EDITORIAL | New governance: are faculty losing their voice?

By Amanda Finnegan
December 8, 2006

While students are beginning the first exams on Dec. 11, the faculty, will be facing a test of their own and voting on a new governance policy that could significantly change the college.

The new model would create change the way faculty share the running of the college with the administration. It is called “shared governance.” This is a term for the way faculty and administration figure out their roles in important issues concerning students.

Although the administration has ensured reluctant faculty members that their voices will still be heard, some faculty feel that they are merely becoming employees of the college and have lost their place in an important setting.

In every body of governance, there needs to be a system of checks and balances, even here at Cabrini. The system ensures that no one group can take control. But with the new model of governance, some faculty, specifically untenured faculty, feel that they will be unable to speak up due to the fear of being under an administration microscope.

Currently, the Faculty Senate only has faculty present and no administrators at their major committee meetings. However, in the new governance structure faculty will not have the option to voice their concerns without an administrator present at major committee meetings.

Some faculty members, especially untenured faculty members, may not feel comfortable speaking in a forum with administrators present because it could affect their career in the long run. Even though the majority of faculty members at Cabrini have agreed that there is a need to have a doctrine that includes a uniform set of guidelines for all faculty members to follow, faculty members also desire a doctrine that includes all faculty members’ input.

Where do students fall into this new model? The structure shows no place for student input. Do we even have say on how things are run at Cabrini? After all, our tuition drives everything at this institution. We should at least be included in major decisions that affect ourselves and our professors.

The mansion has become this untouchable place where the administration presides over the college. Few of us have ever even formally met an administrator and few ever will.

The faculty are the people who see us on our good days, bad days and really, really bad days. Faculty members know their students the best and know what is in their best interest, even when we don’t even know it. They’re never trying to get more money out of us, just more of our potential.

The connections students make with their professors at Cabrini are invaluable. They speak on our behalf, but their voices are potentially being reduced.

Shared governance is a system meant to give everyone a say in decision making processes at the college. Everyone specializes in a different area: student life, curriculum, finances. But we need to let those who specialize in their subject areas and relationships with students be heard. If one group in the shared governance system has lost its voice, then the system has failed.

No one person is more important then the next on campus. We all contribute to what makes this institution desirable for prospective students. Equality is the key.

The Loquitur is not just an outlet for student opinions but an outlet for all to express concerns. We understand that this is a touchy subject with both administration and faculty. Loquitur welcomes all feedback on the matter. Please send all letters to the editor to: Loquitur@googlegroups.com, 500 words or less, attached with name and email address.

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Amanda Finnegan

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