April 28, 2003

Senate passes drug-testing resolution

By Michael Terrazas

The final University Senate meeting of 2002–03, held April 22 in the Woodruff Library’s Jones Room, began with year-end committee reports. Highlights included:

Campus Life: Mark McLeod reported that the main focus of the committee’s work was examining mental health issues, including faculty perceptions of mental health services on campus and short- and long-term strategies for dealing with prevention, education and treatment.

Campus Development: The committee’s written report detailed a list of projects the group reviewed during the year, from the relocation of Fishburne Road to renovation of the Clifton Road bridge over the CSX rail line.

Fringe Benefits: Sid Stein reported the committee discussed, among other issues, health insurance for opposite-sex partners, the possibility of “deemed” IRAs for employees and acquiring the Financial Engines economic counseling service for employees.

Athletics and Recreation Policy: Ruth Pagell highlighted the accomplishments of Emory student-athletes during the year. With Emory barely within Title IX compliance for percentage of male/female athletes to the student body, Pagell said the committee supported a proposal to add junior varsity swimming this fall.

Library Policy: Steve Strange reported the major issue of the year has been the move toward installing compact movable shelving in the Woodruff stack tower, a project that will begin this summer on the building’s fourth floor.

Environment: Julie Mayfield lauded the completion of the Lullwater Comprehensive Management Plan, which gives a rich history of the acreage while providing recommendations for its stewardship. The committee also reviewed plans for a low-impact suspension bridge over South Fork Peachtree Creek between Lullwater and the VA Medical Center.

Parking and Transportation: Kim Turner said analysis of current available parking and capital projects indicates the University will have a deficit of roughly 70 parking spaces in 2005. The committee also reviewed traffic lights and accessibility of all shuttle stops on campus.

Next on the agenda was a report from John Snarey, who chaired an ad hoc committee charged with formulating an alternative to Emory’s current pre-employment drug testing policy. The group proposed a two-tiered policy that Snarey said is a compromise between those who advocate drug testing on safety and security grounds and those who claim across-the-board testing violates individuals’ right to privacy.

The proposed policy’s first “level” identifies certain job descriptions—operators of heavy equipment, drivers of University vehicles, providers of campus security—as being especially appropriate for testing, and all applicants for such positions will be tested per the current policy.

The second level calls upon schools or divisions that wish to implement pre-employment testing for positions other than those described above to appear before the Senate and make their case as to why such testing is necessary. The Senate would discuss and vote on each proposal and forward its recommendation to the Office of the President, which has final authority.

Discussion of the proposal dominated the rest of the meeting. Some Senate members considered it an appropriate compromise, while others questioned whether the Senate has jurisdiction to insert itself into operational management of the University; whether the Senate would be bogged down by such reviews; and whether any criteria for the necessity of drug testing would be established, among other concerns.

After Snarey accepted a friendly amendment to the proposal stipulating that all divisions currently testing applicants may continue to do so over the summer but must appear before the Senate no later than the October 2003 meeting, the question was called by a vote of 15–4. In the subsequent vote on whether to accept the proposal, the ayes had it by a vote of 12–7, meaning the proposed policy would be forwarded to President Bill Chace as the official advice from University Senate.

Chace, saying this may be the last Senate meeting he attends as president, thanked the body for its work during his administration. He said the Senate has grown in stature, importance and maturity during his presidency.

Senate President William Branch called upon interim Provost Woody Hunter to install the new Senate officers. Hunter performed his ceremonial “laying-on of hands” in naming Snarey, professor of human development and ethics in the Candler School of Theology, as the new president. Sharon Strocchia, associate professor of history, was installed as president-elect, and Jane Howell of University Publications was named secretary.

The Senate will reconvene in the fall.

If you have a question or concern for University Senate, e-mail President John Snarey at jsnarey@emory.edu.