March 3, 2003

Senate committee to study drug testing

By Michael Terrazas


Past president Frank Vandall opened the Feb. 25 University Senate meeting, held in Woodruff Library’s Jones Room, by explaining a list of proposed changes to the Senate bylaws. Slated to be brought to a vote in the March meeting, the changes would:

• add a faculty senator from the Emeritus College.

• specify that ex officio members cannot participate in Senate votes.

• specify that meeting agendas are set by the Senate president in consultation with the executive committee.

Current President William Branch added that officers for 2003–04 also will be elected at the March meeting.

Next on the agenda was a continuation of the previous month’s discussion of Emory’s pre-employment drug-testing policy. Employee Council President Cheryl Bowie opened the debate by repeating the council’s resolution calling upon the administration to suspend the policy pending a thorough review of its necessity and effectiveness.

Much like in January, discussion of drug testing took up nearly all of the meeting, with opinions again falling on all sides. Representing the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, Susan Gilbert presented a letter signed by all three president’s commissions and the executive board of the Student Government Association (SGA) supporting the Employee Council resolution.

John Bugge, head of the Emory chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), read from an AAUP position paper opposing drug testing on college campuses. Bugge added that drug testing could undermine Emory’s reputation by implying that the University has a drug problem among its employees.

Speaking in defense of the policy, Human Resources Vice President Alice Miller said Emory “probably has a drug problem commensurate with the drug problem in the United States.” She said the policy tries to be preventive, rather than reactive, and that its annual cost would be far exceeded by the University’s liability should an employee under the influence of drugs injure him- or herself or others.

Bob Hascall, senior associate vice president for Facilities Management (FM), spoke of FM’s need for this policy. Hascall said he has fired FM employees for being under the influence of alcohol on the job, and he said an employee was arrested on campus two weeks earlier on charges of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. “We think testing yields a better pool of applicants,” Hascall said.

President Bill Chace, as he did in January, again called the debate one of the best and most productive in recent Senate history. He said studies estimate illegal drug use costs American businesses some $60 billion each year in lost productivity, and any review of the policy would have to take these factors into consideration. Also, he said, University leaders from FM and Campus Life specifically asked for this policy to be instituted.

“All our options are open,” Chace said, “but there are realities that must be contended with.”

In the end, the Senate passed by a 19–2 vote a motion made by president-elect John Snarey, which called upon the Senate to create an ad hoc committee, broadly representative of the Senate as a whole, that will “study alternative drug-testing policies with the mandate to form a revised, more focused policy for recommendation by the Senate this academic year.” Branch said he will appoint the members of the committee.

Next on the agenda, Judy Raggi Moore of the honorary degrees committee briefed Senate members on the committee’s recommendations for 2004 degree recipients. The nominees, which are confidential, will be voted on in March.

Representing the President’s Commission on LGBT Concerns, Kathy McKee invited members to participate in the March 3–5 “Diversity as Value Added” Symposium, sponsored by the president’s commissions and more than 30 other campus groups.

SGA President Chris Richardson introduced his successor, junior Euler Bropleh, recently elected SGA president for 2003–04. Bropleh said he looked forward to working with the Senate during his term.

To close the meeting, Chace announced that he has asked Don Harris from the Information Technology Division and John Mason from Network Communications to investigate software options for reducing the amount of e-mail “spam” Emory community members receive. A piece of such software installed recently in the University of Georgia’s e-mail system reduced spam by as much as 90 percent, Chace said, but it also can have the side effect of filtering out wanted e-mail.

The next Senate meeting will be held March 25 at 3:15 p.m. in the Jones Room.

If you have a question or concern for University Senate, e-mail President William Branch at







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