Emory Report
November 8, 2004
Volume 57, Number 11


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November 8, 2004
Paul presents DH policy draft to Faculty Council

BY Michael Terrazas

First on the agenda of the Oct. 19 Faculty Council meeting, held in 400 Administration, was a vote on committee rosters for the 2004–05 year. Hard-copy rosters were distributed to members, and they were approved unanimously.

Next was a report from Chair-elect Mike Rogers, who chairs the Distinguished Faculty Lecture committee. Rogers called for nominations for the 2006 lecturer, specifically hoping for more suggestions of women and minority faculty members. The 2005 lecture will be delivered by the law school’s Frank Alexander on Feb. 7 at 4 p.m. in Winship Ballroom.

Chair Sharon Strocchia previously had distributed members’ suggestions for goals during the academic year, and the council discussed some of these in detail. Ideas included examinations of the barriers to interdisciplinary work; of the scholarship of teaching and learning; and of the various leave policies for faculty across Emory’s schools.

The sole action taken during this discussion was to announce that former chair John Snarey will lead an ad hoc group to examine the future of faculty governance at Emory—including the relevance and structure of the Faculty Council itself. The first step, Snarey said, would be to review practices at peer institutions.

Emory College Dean Bobby Paul distributed a draft of the discriminatory harassment (DH) policy, which has been under revision since last year by a committee chaired by Paul and General Counsel Kent Alexander. The revised policy, which combines Emory’s former DH regulation with its equal-opportunity policy, attempts to walk the fine line between preserving academic freedom and the desire for a DH-free workplace.

“This is as far as we’ve gotten to this point, and there’s no harm at all in asking whether we’re going in the totally wrong or totally right direction,” Paul said. He’d previously presented the draft at a meeting of college faculty, and said he wished to hear the council’s input before sharing what was said at that meeting.

Paul said he’d received several opinions from faculty that Emory should have no DH policy at all, adding that the committee considered this option but concluded it would violate federal law. Indeed, much of the language in the new policy is in lockstep with federal anti-DH regulations.

One area Paul said needs addressing is a section forbidding any actions that create a “hostile environment.” In any given University class, some material may make a student or students uncomfortable for a number of reasons, he said. “In whose judgment do we consider something offensive or having the effect of creating a hostile environment?” Paul wondered.

In the end, he said, policies like this always will depend on human judgments, and the official University stance should be considered a guideline for making informed, reasoned, case-by-case conclusions.

To close the meeting, the law school’s Jim Hughes said he was pleased to report no cases were brought before the faculty hearing committee last year, but he said a new grievance procedure may be needed to deal with matters within units other than those resulting in termination. Structures exist for dealing with issues of poor performance or harassment—the hearing committee and the Office of Equal Opportunity, specifically—but there is no mechanism in place to appeal “unsatisfactory treatment” within a faculty member’s own unit.

The council agreed to discuss the issue at a subsequent meeting. The Faculty Council will next meet on Tuesday, Nov. 16, at 3:15 p.m. in 400 Administration.

If you have a question or concern for Faculty Council, e-mail Strocchia at sharon.strocchia@emory.edu.