RIT AAUP APRIL 6, 2007: 1:00-2:00 P.M.

Officers in attendance: T. Policano; J. Naud; V. Serravallo; J. Aumer

1. “Rankism” at RIT

The anonymous article in Academe concerning “rankism” has received much attention by President Simone, and has resulted in special staff meetings.  Members present discussed the nature of “rankism.” 

Does it refer to individual abuse of position, such as a faculty member abusing a staff worker?  Hierarchical organizations are based on unequal power, and those in positions of greater power have greater opportunity to abuse that power.  In that case, it would be an example of dishonorable conduct as defined in Institute Honor Code.  Unfortunately, Honor Code does not appear equipped to deal with high-level powerholders, e.g., deans, who can but do not work to confront such faculty-staff relations, and, indeed, may engage in such abuse themselves.  This, in fact, was one aspect of “rankism” discussed in the Academe article. 

Or, is “rankism” a symptom of deeper structural problems?  For example, the Academe article reports a faculty member’s abuse of common space that was occupied by staff, but this could well be an expression of the lack of sufficient space.

After discussion it was agreed that at this time the Chapter shall play no role in the Institute’s steps to confront “rankism,” but we will continue to monitor the situation.

2.  Parking

The Institute community has once again, via RIT-wide e-mail, strongly reacted to the Parking Department’s plans to increase paid reserved parking. Deliberating on the Chapter’s role in this issue, members decided that since the Academic Senate has yet to take action on this, we would suggest to those who we know are devising parking plans to put those plans on the Chapter Forum site for all to see and discuss.  And, at this point President Policano visited the Forum site and found that, indeed, this was just done.  The Chapter encourages all to read and respond to Professor Robisons’s motion now on the Forum.

3.  Course Withdraw Policy

After brief discussion, it was decided that the Chapter offer and use the Forum if any member wishes to engage in this issue.

4.  Required Innovation

Secretary Serravallo asked if other Colleges besides CLA received information about a “conversation starter” between the provost and incoming President Drestler, but none did.  President Policano, however, did know about it due to his position on Academic Senate.

The e-mail sent to CLA from interim Dean Kist begins by describing a “conversation starter” by Dr. Destler wherein creativity and innovation might be a required experience for students at RIT, and provides the text of an e-mail by Provost McKenzie, and mislabeled as that of Dr. Drestler.  In the e-mail, faculty were encouraged to consider nominations for a committee on the matter. 

Serravallo expressed concern that what is described at the start of the e-mail as a conversation, appears by the end to be a plan to be enacted.  Serravallo will try to seek clarification: is this a proposal to be debated by faculty, or is it a pre-figured plan to be implemented?

5. RIT Virtual Town Meeting

President Policano discussed concerns about the caliber of the comments we are getting from the anonymous polls and surveys we provide from this site to the faculty of RIT. He will be making a presentation at the next Academic Senate meeting encouraging a more professional and respectful level of commenting.

respectfully submitted 4/22/07 byVSerravallo, Revised 4/25/07