University Senate votes for compromise model

A 38-6 vote by the senate body allows for the adoption of compromise model.

University Senate is preparing to flesh out a new governance structure after Thursday's meeting.

With a vote of 38-6, the senate body adopted a skeleton of a compromise model over the current system. Four senators abstained.

An intense discussion preceded the vote, creating divisions among students and between students and faculty.

Student senator Chris Borkowski brought forward accusations that members of Student Government Association did not prepare student senators for their vote in October.

"For the past two months, there have been questionable tactics to ruin any chance for the student senate to vote in favor or against the compromise model while having knowledge of all models and opinions," Borkowski said.

SGA President Tolu Olowomeye said both models were presented to the students unbiased, and copies of the model structure were made available to student senators a week before the October SGA straw vote.

She also said faculty had ample time to attend a meeting and present its case.

Olowomeye called Borkowski's accusations "brutally disrespectful."

The debate continued until visitor Eric Richardson encouraged senators to take action.

"Your system doesn't work," Richardson said. "There is a faculty phobia here that if we let professors run us, we don't get a vote."

President Blaine Brownell took the floor first in the discussion, voicing his support for the compromise model.

"The current model has been in place for a long time," Brownell said. "But it is not an acceptable model based on what (university senators) have said."

Although Provost Beverley Pitts was unable to attend because of a death in the family, she sent Acting Assistant Provost Deborah Balogh to express her support for the compromise model. Professor Mark Popovich, author of the compromise model, said this was not a common occurrence.

"In 30 years I can't ever remember a president or provost that have so emphatically supported a faculty vote in a governance system," Popovich said. "I thought President Brownell showed great statesmanship today, and I think he understood it was in the best interest of the faculty to do it that way."

Despite the fact that Brownell and a majority of the senate showed support for the compromise model, a task force must be appointed before a final structure is adopted.

University Senate Chairwoman Marilyn Buck said details like committee structure and proportionality would be worked out in the task force. The task force has not been appointed, an effort Buck said would surface in future senate meetings.

"Everything below the council structure is up for arbitration," Popovich said.

With the proportions of students, staff and professional personnel uncertain, student senators prepare for the next step in the restructuring process.

"Now we have to fight for our seats," said Nick Zuniga, SGA president pro tempore.

As far as the direct link to the agenda committee, SGA Vice President Megan Pickens remains skeptical.

"It depends on the makeup of the agenda committee," Pickens said.


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