With the University Senate returning for its first meeting of the school year next Wednesday, here’s your guide to understanding the ins and outs of the senate.
The senate’s first meeting is on Sept. 8, at 3:15 p.m. Afterward, the senate will meet three more times this semester on Oct. 7, Nov. 10 and Dec. 9 from 3:15 to 5 p.m. Special sessions are occasionally scheduled as necessary. All senate meetings are open to the public.
The senate works to advise university President Darryll Pines by drafting recommendations or revisions to the university’s policies. These bills or proposals can relate to education, budget, personnel, the campus community, long-term plans, facilities and more. There are currently 32 active bills and proposals under review by various committees or pending approval by a senate vote.
Three bills under review this year include separate proposals to “Promote Mental Health and Equity in the Excused Absence Policy,” “Establish a Bachelor of Arts in Technology and Information Design” and “Rename the Bachelor of Arts in ‘Women’s Studies’ to ‘Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies’” among others.
As of now, the meetings are scheduled to remain on Zoom, said M Pease, a senior psychology major and senator on the Senate Executive Committee. Individual committees will schedule their meetings separately, although many have not yet posted their schedules.
Who serves on the senate
The senate comprises approximately 224 senators who are elected by their peers, volunteer or appointed. Members include university students, faculty, staff and administrators from across the university’s colleges and departments.
For undergraduates, students in each college elect one representative per 1,000 full-time undergraduate students within their major to the senate, and each undergraduate student senator serves a one-year term. They can serve no more than three consecutive terms.
Graduate students elect 10 representatives for one year terms with a term limit after three consecutive terms.
Staff and faculty members have more specific guidelines for electing members and are often divided up by colleges and departments. For example, for full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty, each college elects one representative for every 15 faculty in this category.
Senators are divided into committees to formulate and review policies that are proposed and voted on by the whole senate. There are currently 10 standing committees. Each committee has a mix of faculty, students, staff and various administration members. If you’re interested in running for the University Senate, here’s what you should know about each committee:
- Academic Procedures & Standards Committee — reviews policies related to admissions, readmissions, academic standing, registration and the dismissal of students for academic deficiency. There are currently 23 senators on the committee spanning multiple departments. Currently the committee is reviewing the “Interim University of Maryland Grading Symbols and Notations Used on Academic Transcripts Policy.”
- Campus Affairs Committee — oversees policies, concerns and issues affecting the entire campus in order to protect relationships both on and off campus and concentrates on campus safety. There are currently 20 senators on the committee spanning multiple departments. There are no active bills under review.
- Educational Affairs Committee — reviews and crafts policies in an effort to strengthen the educational system by examining the conditions in the different colleges and the general education program. There are currently 23 senators on the committee spanning multiple departments. Currently, the committee is reviewing the consideration of a policy on the “Naming of Academic Programs” and revisions to the “Diversity General Education Requirements.”
- Elections, Representation, & Governance Committee — makes recommendations for how to improve senate operations and reviews the representation of senators in various senate roles to ensure proper representation.There are currently 13 senators on the committee spanning multiple departments. The committee is currently reviewing four bills including: “Revisions to the School of Public Health Plan of Organization”; “Campus Transportation Advisory Committee Senate Representation”; “Revisions to the School of Public Policy Plan of Organization” and “Revisions to the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources Plan of Organization.”
- Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Committee — supports the Office of Diversity and Inclusion by forumulating and reviewing policies and procedures pertaining to issues of equity, diversity and inclusion, including policies on non-discrimination and accessibility. The 20 senators on the committee are currently reviewing the “University of Maryland Policy on Threatening and Intimidating Conduct.”
- Faculty Affairs Committee — reviews policies pertaining to faculty members’ life on campus including employment, academic freedom and morale. While this 17-member committee is predominantly composed of faculty members, one undergraduate student and two graduate students are also members. The committee is currently reviewing four bills including: “Revisions to the School of Public Health (SPHL) Plan of Organization”; “Policy on Criminal Background Checks for Faculty and Staff Employees”; “Revisions to the School of Public Policy (PLCY) Plan of Organization” and “Revisions to the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources (AGNR) Plan of Organization.”
- Programs, Curricula, & Courses Committee — evaluates and reviews policy changes to academic programs, curricula and courses, the renaming of an academic unit or program and consolidating or merging departments. The 18-person committee will hold its first meeting of the year on Friday from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Zoom. The committee has not released its agenda but currently there is one bill, “PCC Proposal to Establish a Bachelor of Science in Data Science,” under review.
- Staff Affairs Committee — formulates and reviews campus policies affecting staff members, including policies regarding periodic reviews.The committee also focuses on overseeing the nomination and election process for staff representatives to the Council of University System Staff, facilitating the nomination process for the university’s Board of Regents Staff Awards and helping recruit staff representatives for campus and senate committees. Although the committee has mostly different types of staff members, one student sits on the 22-person committee as well. The committee is currently reviewing the “Policy on Criminal Background Checks for Faculty and Staff Employees.”
- Student Affairs Committee — evaluates current policies for student organizations, resident life, extracurricular activities and the general concerns of the student body while proposing new policies to evolve with the changing nature of student life on campus. Among the 23 members on this committee, there are eight undergraduate students, four of whom must be senators and four graduate students, two of whom must be senators. The Student Affairs Committee is not currently reviewing any bills.
- Student Conduct Committee — creates and reviews recommendations concerning the rules and codes of student conduct, and their means of enforcement. Committee members are trained to review appeals for infractions of the approved Code of Student Conduct and Code of Academic Integrity. The 12 members on this committee are trained to review appeals for infractions as they serve as an appellate body during hearings. The Student Affairs Committee is not currently reviewing any bills. In addition to these 10 committees, there are four elected committees — the Committee on Committees, the Nominations Committee, the Senate Executive Committee and the Special Committee on University Finance — to help run the University Senate. More information about each committee can be found here.