The Academic Senate unanimously voted this week to create a new Ad Hoc Town Hall Committee that will hold town halls as a way to facilitate communication on campus.
The town halls would be meetings open to the public where students, Board of Trustees members, campus faculty, and members of the community would be able to discuss issues in a non-combative environment.
“We have to take care not to repeat what we already do at [Senate] meetings, and not [to make it] an attack on the Board members,” said Senator Martha House during the senate’s regular meeting on Oct. 7.
Melissa Michaelson explained that the town halls would be a way for the Board members to communicate and talk back, unlike in Board meetings where people talk at them.
“[Town halls] are not to talk toward or at them,” she said.
Some senators expressed concerns about Board members not being willing to participate. The Senate decided to create the Committee anyway and go from there.
“We have to make the first step,” said Senator Dan Haley. “If they reject it, fine. But we have to make the first move.”
According to Michaelson, the Associated Students (AS) expressed a willingness to participate in the town halls. AS had discussed holding its own town halls at its Sept. 18 meeting.
Michaelson drafted a letter from the Committee to send to the Board, inviting them to participate in the town halls. She presented the letter to the Senate for approval.
Senator Matthew Henes expressed concerns about the Committee taking predetermined action.
“The Committee didn’t exist until today,” said Henes. “You’re already acting.”
He pointed out that the draft already had deadlines for the Board to respond to the letter, written before the committee was made.
Michaelson explained that it was just a draft and that it was a product of brainstorming with others who had said they wanted to be a part of the Committee.
“This doesn’t have to be the direction we go,” she said.
The Senate did not vote on the letter, choosing only to vote on appointing members to the Committee.
So far, the Senate has approved five members to the Committee. The five senators who were unanimously approved are Kris Pilon, Yolanda McKay, Melissa Michaelson, David Cuatt, and Martha House.