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Student Council Meeting Recap: December 4

Posted: 2019-12-04 23:41:55   Expiration: 2040-12-11 23:41:55

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The Associated Students of Madison Student Council met on Wednesday, December 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the Student Activity Center Hearing Room.

There was a special order to hear from Ian Robertson, Dean of the College of Engineering. Dean Robertson said in his remarks that for the College of Engineering, the “environment must be welcoming and inclusive to all… [it is] no place for bullying and hostile behavior.” 

Dean Robertson referenced the suspension of Dr. Akbar Sayeed, stating that the harmful incidents that occured in Dr. Sayeed’s lab “Was a lapse in the College of Engineering standards.” Continuing on, Dean Robertson shared how Dr. Sayed will come back to campus on January 1, 2020 and will neither be working in the classroom, with students or faculty. Instead, Dr. Sayeed will be positioned in Dean Robertson’s office performing administrative work. 

As a response to the situation in Dr. Sayeed’s lab, Dean Robertson told the body that the College of Engineering was going agree to oversight measures - agreed upon amongst the Department Chair, Dean of the College of Engineering, and Provost. 

Dean Robertson stated that the College of Engineering will be introducing bias and hostile & intimidating behavior trainings. Currently, 86% of Engineering faculty have taken such training, whereas the remaining 14% are not available for awards and recognition as a result of having yet to complete the training. It was indicated how the College of Engineering is also 40% complete with staff trainings - soon to be 100% complete. Dean Robertson expressed an intention for students to eventually participate in such trainings, as this is intended as part of the welcome experience for the College of Engineering students in Fall 2020.

Further, Dean Robetson identified mental health resources as a priority, especially having faculty relay information to students. He wants to additionally find a way to make student comments valued in the tenure process.

"Working together, we are going to make the right environment for everyone to work in."

Representative Ben-Yitschak asked how Dean Robertson learned of Dr. Sayeed’s treatment of students, as well as if there were warning signs that previously existed.

Dean Robertson said he first learned of Dr. Sayeed’s behavior when John Brady’s parents contacted him in 2016, which is what led him to begin the investigation that resulted in disciplinary action. Dean Robertson said he learned more about the extent of the treatment in the paper and that the school does not track the movement of students out of tenured track faculty labs. Moving forward, he said that the movement of students will be tracked in all labs, as well as including an exit survey for students. 

Representative Barry asked why Dr. Sayeed is coming back in the first place.

Dean Robertson said that Dr. Sayeed’s scholarship is not a factor in this decision nor is his economic output to the college. He added, “I do not have the authority to discipline a faculty member,” relaying how this decision rests with the Provost. Dean Robertson further explained that Dr. Sayeed's economic output to the college "was relatively modest" in comparison to his peers.

Dean Robertson continued, “The prior Provost decided in this case that it was a two year suspension. If he is suspended, he is permitted to come back to campus.” 

Chair Bosma asked if this is a decision Dean Robertson was comfortable with, saying that “even good processes can have bad outcomes.” 

Dean Robertson responded and said that he was comfortable with the process and that he did not have all the information that the Provost had to make this decision. Dean Robertson again iterated that Dr. Sayeed will stay in his office performing administrative duties and will return only when they are sure the environment will not happen again.

In open forum, 10 students spoke in favor of the Special Committee on Campus Alcohol Policy.

Representative Barry made an announcement that tonight will be her final Student Council meeting. 

Chair Bosma made an announcement about tomorrow’s Grant Information Session, occurring from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in Room 217 of the Humanities Building..

Chair Alaei made an announcement about this Friday’s Climate Strike at 12:00 p.m. and the ASM Clothing Swap, taking place from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Student Activity Center..

Representative Barry made another announcement about a protest at Slichter Hall related to a university House Fellow’s recent dismissal. She relayed how the protest has resulted in increased collaboration with the Director of  UW Housing, Jeff Novak.

Chair Lampron clarified that the House Fellow was on paid leave, rather than being outright dismissed.

Chair Bosma made a motion to add a new piece of legislation the agenda. 

With a vote of 19-0-2, the motion to add new legislation under the agenda passes and the agenda was subsequently amended.

Representative Miller made a motion to move Old Business after the reading and approval of the minutes. Representative Resch seconded this. 

Points of debate ensued. Chair Goyal referenced those present in attendance, stating that out of respect for their time, Introduction to New Legislation should not be pushed back. 

Representative Ben-Yitschak made a motion to amend the amendment to the agenda, having Introduction to New legislation and Old Business both immediately follow the reading of the minutes. 

With a vote of 17-0-3, the motion passes. 

With a vote of 18-0-2, the agenda is amended.

The Student Council meeting from November 20 had its minutes approved by unanimous consent.

Vice Chair Grunow introduced the Reauthorization of the Resolution in Support of the Teaching Assistants’ Association. The resolution reaffirms the right of graduate assistants to meaningfully comment on and participate in the formation of policies that affect their learning and working conditions in the spirit of shared governance. Additionally, it calls for the Associated Students of Madison to join the Teaching Assistants’ Association in their call for the administration of UW-Madison to fully cover mandatory fees for all graduate assistants at this university. Finally, it calls on UW administration to explore options for generating revenue such that this does not adversely affect student services or place the burden on other students. 

Vice Chair Grunow made a motion for Robert Christl, Co-President of the Teaching Assistants’ Association to take a seat at the table and offer more insight into the legislation from the Teaching Assistants’ Association's perspective. 

With a vote of 18-0-2, the motion passes.

This piece of legislation will be voted upon at the next meeting.

Chair Bosma introduced Grant Allocation Committee Chinese Spring Festival Gala 2020 legislation. He explained that at the Grant Allocation Committee meeting last night, an event grant application was approved that exceeds 2% of our Event Grant budget for the current session. It called to approve the grant for the event “Chinese Spring Festival Gala 2020” in the amount of $8490.02.

With a vote of 19-0-2, the body voted to suspend the rules to debate and vote on the legislation.

With a vote of 19-0-2, the legislation passes.

Representative Resch re-introduced the Special Committee on Campus Alcohol Policy. He proposed an amendment.

Representative Resch proposed an amendment to the policy. The amendment changed a whereas clause to state “the currently existing shared governance mechanisms, administrative/advisory committees, and ASM committees do not have a structural means of collecting qualitative, student experiences with alcohol policy have failed to fully engage with students about their experiences with alcohol policy.” It additionally changed a be it further resolved clause to say, “The Special Committee on Campus Alcohol Policy will meet at least biweekly to partner with stakeholders and UW-Madison researchers, evaluate current empirical studies, provide recommendations for further research, work with EIC to ensure a diverse student engagement plan to assess to gather qualitative, student experiences as they relate to alcohol policy, and collaborate with the relevant shared governance groups, ASM committees, and student leaders who sit on relevant administrative advisory committees;”

With a vote of 19-0-2, the legislation is amended. 

Representative Resch motioned for a 3-minute recess. 

With a vote of 19-0-2, the motion passes. 

Representative Resch proposed a new amendment. It stated, “Therefore, be it further resolved, the committee shall first select a chair and vice chair by a majority vote, draft standing rules to be apporved by student council at the next student council meeting.

Be it finally resolved, the Outreach Director and a representative of EIC shall attend each meeting.”

Chair Bosma pointed out a typo in the amendment, but it was indicated that this would be fixed upon its incorporation into the legislation.

With a vote of 19-0-2, the legislation is amended.

Representative Resch motioned to end questions.

With a vote of 14-5-3, the motion passes. 

With a vote of 17-1-3, the legislation passes. 

A motion was thus made to suspend the rules to vote to appoint a representative on the committee.

With a vote of 19-0-2, the motion passes.

Representative Resch and Representative Lang were nominated and spoke to their nominations. Representative Lang rescinded his nomination, speaking in favor Representative Resch's appointment.

With a vote of 19-0-2 Representative Resch was granted the authority to call the first meeting for the Special Committee on Campus Alcohol Policy

Chair reports were made. Chair Goyal detailed recent shared governance appointments in need of approval

With a vote of 17-0-2, the shared governance appointments were approved.

Student Council will meet next on January 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the Student Activity Center Hearing Room.

-- Associated Students of Madison: Matthew Mitnick