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Faculty Senate reviews procedure in light of Eikenberry vote

Kelli Nguyen, Assistant Campus Editor

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Faculty Senate voted Wednesday to uphold its decision to support the appointment of former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry as executive director of the Buffett Institute for Global Studies.

The intention of the motion, which was to invalidate the Eikenberry vote, was to discuss parliamentary procedure rather than specifically Eikenberry, who, as of April 13, will no longer serve in the position. The motion set out to alter Faculty Senate’s decision on Eikenberry due to violations of “due process” at April’s meeting.

“The discussion today was not about Eikenberry,” Law Prof. Charlotte Crane, a member of Faculty Senate’s executive committee, told The Daily. “It was only about whether the prior meeting was inappropriately conducted to make nothing that happened at the meeting have any effect, and I think we came to the right conclusion.”

One of the major infractions detailed in the motion was that senators were not given sufficient time to review the agenda and necessary documents. April’s dossier was sent to senators two hours before Faculty Senate convened, violating the five-day time frame outlined in Faculty Senate bylaws.

Economics Prof. Larry Christiano said the documents were late because senators were given less than a week’s notice regarding Associated Student Government’s plan to vote on an Eikenberry resolution during its meeting after Faculty Senate. Christiano said he wanted to inform ASG with the faculty’s stance on the matter.

“A lot of the documents that were distributed didn’t exist until the day of the meeting or the day before,” Christiano said. “We were very concerned that students were going to vote on this, that they might be under the impression that a lot of faculty opposed this promotion.”

French and Italian Prof. Michal Ginsburg said if any senators were concerned about students’ misconceptions, they should have shared their opinions directly with ASG rather than rushing Faculty Senate to vote on the matter.

“This was simply an attempt to pressure the students in order to make them vote the way you want and you could have done it on your own,” Ginsburg said.

Wednesday’s motion, introduced by English Prof. Barbara Newman, also detailed violations to Robert’s Rules of Order, a set of guidelines for conducting meetings and making group decisions. According to the motion, discussions on Eikenberry continued against Robert’s Rules procedure. In addition, Faculty Senate failed to establish a quorum — the minimum amount of senators required to be present to make a decision — before tallying the final vote.

“The point about the quorum, all of us are equally responsible for paying attention to whether there’s a quorum or not,” Crane said. “If you doubt that there’s a quorum, and there’s a vote, it’s on each and every one of us.”

Religious studies Prof. Laurie Zoloth, the Faculty Senate vice president, said it is important for Faculty Senate to take responsibility for its mistakes and that it is every senator’s job to ensure Faculty Senate meetings follow procedure.

Art theory and practice Prof. Inigo Manglano-Ovalle said the mistakes of April’s meetings should serve as a learning opportunity for Faculty Senate.

“This is a teaching moment; you know sometimes we’re the students and sometimes the administration should be the students — that’s why we’re here,” Mangallo-Ovalle said. “Our only students are not the ones who sit in classrooms.”

Email: kellinguyen2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @kellinguyen

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