Faculty Express Disapproval of New Curriculum Proposal, Vote to Table

Faculty Express Disapproval of New Curriculum Proposal, Vote to Table

After an extended debate before the planned vote on a new general education curriculum, a motion to table the topic and postpone the debate until the May faculty meeting was passed.  The vote was 100-55 in favor of tabling. 

The discussion began with an impassioned defense of the proposal by Committee on Educational Planning and Policy (CEPP) Chair Erica Bastress-Dukehart.  She reminded faculty that the proposal should be passed because it had been underway for four years, and represented good progress despite it being “not perfect.”  She told faculty that the proposed curriculum “asks us to be more intentional.”

Following Bastress-Dukehart’s remarks, she asked the Student Government Association (SGA) President Dorothy Parsons to endorse the proposal on behalf of students.  Parsons underscored that SGA had voted to support the proposal.  She did not mention that the vote came after a preliminary senate meeting in which many SGA senators appeared to have not read the proposal.  Senators asked simple questions about the contents and were later told to read the proposal before the next meeting. 

The debate about the proposal began with several remarks including a prepared statement from English faculty, Linda Hall, who suggested that the revised language requirement should allow some international students to take EN-103 instead of a language other than English, was not properly discussed because EN-103 has in no way been designed for English language learners.  Other English and World Language and Literature faculty expressed similar remarks about how the language revisions had not been properly discussed and spoke up about how some classes would have to be restructured.

Another faculty in the meeting asked Bastress-Dukehart why non-English speakers from the United States would not be given the same offer to take English instead of a language other than English. Bastress-Dukehart had declined to answer a similar question from The Skidmore News almost a week before, and she left the question on the floor unanswered, calling it a “good question.” 

One professor brought a motion to amend the proposal on the fly in order to implement a 3-credit minimum to one of the requirements that called for a 1-course requirement.  After extended debate, that motion came to a vote, which by narrow margins failed 65-69.  At the conclusion of the vote being run by Bastress-Dukehart, confusion broke out in the room with some faculty calling out that they were not aware a vote was ongoing.  After conversation between the Parliamentarian, who oversees rules enforcement, and Bastress-Dukehart, it was decided a revote would proceed, even though the Parliamentarian initially said it would not be allowed and many faculty shouted that it should not.  The new vote also failed, the second time by 73-88 with 10 abstaining. 

After the motion failed, the conversation returned to the focus on the fate of the general education proposal.  One faculty suggested the proposal be sent back to committee for improvement, which caused claps and snaps to ring through the room.  This was despite a few faculty, including Andrew Linder of Sociology, who asked his colleagues to approve the proposal because he thought faculty should “keep in mind the scope of the changes” and not be bogged down by small deficiencies.  Other faculty expressed concern that the deficiencies were by no means small and still needed discussion, which had not yet been robustly discussed, or at least not with key stakeholders.

At about 4:50 PM, one hour and 20 minutes into the meeting, a motion to table the proposal was put forward and seconded causing an immediate vote about whether discussion would be ended for the day.  The vote to table passed by large margins.  It was 100-55 with 7 abstaining.  Many faculty picked up there belongings and streamed out of the room at the end of the vote despite President Glotzbach returning to the podium to continue the remainder of the meeting.

The Skidmore News Editorial Board had written previously that it believed the proposal was not ready for a vote and still needed more time and changes in committee. 

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