SAINT XAVIER UNIVERSITY FACULTY AFFAIRS COMMITTEE 2002-2003 Susan Beal, Linda Burke, Chair Thomas McGannon, Randolph Kromer, Martha Morris, Anthony Rotatori, Kay Thurn
The Faculty Affairs Committee is charged in the By-Laws with acting as “a liaison to the administration in matters concerning faculty welfare”. In this capacity, the members of the Faculty Affairs Committee wish to express three specific concerns about the way in which the sanctions were imposed on Dr. Peter Kirstein as a result of his e-mail response to an unsolicited e-mail. We are basing our response on the report completed by the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Due Process for Faculty.
Our committee is not taking a position on either the content of Dr. Kirstein’s e-mail or on the validity of imposing sanctions in this particular instance. However, we do believe that the manner in which sanctions were imposed are of concern. When sanctions are imposed on a faculty member, that person’s due process rights need to be respected.
The three concerns are: 1. The meeting (which occurred on November 11, 2002) in which sanctions were discussed and imposed was not labeled a disciplinary hearing. While the issue of the labeling of the meeting is contested, the nature of the sanctions imposed makes the meeting appear to be disciplinary. Dr. Kirstein was not informed of the content of the meeting, nor was he allowed the presence of an advocate.
2. At no time, should a faculty member be required to rescind his or her rights to file a grievance or engage in other efforts to protect their due process rights. Faculty should have the right to consult counsel and to have the benefit of some time to consider acceptance of administrative action, particularly if that action is punitive in nature. Signing a statement that waives one’s right to file a grievance negates the ability to appeal an administrative decision, which is the cornerstone of due process rights.
3. Sanctions should be determined with appropriate consultation with faculty leaders and/or groups that exist for the support of faculty, such as the Faculty Senate, Faculty Affairs, or AAUP, among others. It was not possible for faculty to provide such consultation without first being informed that specific sanctions are to be imposed. Asking for faculty input would not only be beneficial for the faculty member, it could be helpful to the administration in avoiding subsequent appeals of decisions. Specifically, we are concerned with a practice of adding addendum to faculty contracts, which are based both on the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Faculty By-Laws without consultation with these committees.
We believe that the appropriate mechanism for addressing a disagreement between a faculty member and the administration is the grievance procedure. Dr. Kirstein, for one, cannot access this procedure without violating a promise he made. To repeat, our letter does not either endorse or condemn actions taken by Dr. Kirstein or the administration, because it is not FAC’s charge to form such judgments. We do believe that sanctions imposed on faculty by administration must be done with attention to the due process rights of all parties.