The Ithaca College Student Governance Council discussed impending faculty cuts and passed one bill regarding funding for student organizations at its Oct. 12 meeting.
At the Faculty Council meeting Oct. 6, La Jerne Cornish, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said that approximately 130 faculty members at the college will be cut and that entire departments may be discontinued in part due to decreased student enrollment.
Senior Alexandria DeVita, chief of staff for the SGC, opened the conversation by expressing her concern about the School of Humanities and Sciences. H&S has the largest number of majors out of the five schools at the college, with over 50 undergraduate programs and over 40 minors. Of the 55 undergraduate majors the Office of Analytics and Institutional Research lists for Fall 2020, 22 have 10 or fewer students enrolled, including majors like philosophy and aging studies.
“I think this hits the H&S school really hard because we have so many majors with tiny enrollment,” DeVita said.”The lowest enrollment programs are going to be the first to go.”
Senior Connor Shea, president of the SGC, mentioned the statement that the SGC released Oct. 12 in support of faculty and staff members, a message that addressed how the decision to cut faculty members impacts the entire college community. Shea said he included the email address to contact the SGC in case any faculty members were interested in reaching out about how the SGC can support them.
“Where is our place in this discussion?” he said. “Because we are representatives of the students, we fight for their rights and privileges, but the students do not exist in a vacuum without faculty and staff.”
Senior Abigail Murtha, senate chair for the SGC, said that she understood remote learning can be frustrating for students but encouraged them to be kind to their professors in light of this news.
“Just [be] very compassionate because your professors and faculty that you interact with every single day are facing a very scary reality, and they continue to teach you through it,” Murtha said.
Senior Yetunde Smalls, vice president of campus affairs, said that she was interested in putting together a staff and faculty appreciation project, possibly through social media.
The SGC also spoke about updates to bills that it had previously passed this semester, including the Rent College Pad Recommendation, the Fall Tuition 2020 Transparency Request Bill and the 60 Calendar Day Title IX Recommendation Bill.
The Fall 2020 Tuition Transparency Request Bill was passed at the SGC’s Sept. 14 meeting. The bill recommended that the Senior Leadership Team publish information about the cost of tuition for Fall 2020 by Oct. 1. Sophomore Austin Ruffino, senator-at-large, said that the bill was recently forwarded via email to Bill Guerrero, vice president for finance and administration. Ruffino said the SGC received an initial response from Guerrero that he had received the bill and was awaiting further action.
The 60 Calendar Day Title IX Recommendation Bill was passed at the Sept. 14 meeting. It recommended that the college’s Title IX office begin proposals regarding national changes to Title IX, as well as outlining a 60-day calendar time limit for resolution of Title IX cases.
Senior Jasmine Morrow, Class of 2021 senator, a sponsor of the bill, said that after it was passed, she learned that the Title IX office at the college already had a 60-day limit for sexual misconduct, harassment and discrimination cases. In the Ithaca College Policy Manual, Vol. II, Section 2.1.5 states that “The college endeavors to complete the investigatory phase and disciplinary proceeding within 60 days, but this time frame may be extended if necessary under the circumstances.”
Morrow said she is now working with Title IX Coordinator Linda Koenig.
“Right now, we’re just going through all of the policies and seeing what we can make better and what can be done to streamline the process and make things more available for students,” Morrow said.
The SGC passed the Rent College Pads Recommendation at its Sept. 14 meeting. The bill recommended that the college, specifically the Office of Residential Life, should partner with Rent College Pads, a company that works with college students and local landlords to find housing off campus near their colleges.
Shea said that the SGC forwarded the bill via email to Marsha Dawson, director of the Office of Residential Life and the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards; Eileen Roth, off-campus community living coordinator; and Laura Davis, assistant director of housing for the Office of Residential Life. The contract has since been moved to the Division of Legal Affairs for further approval.
The SGC also unanimously passed the Travel Registration Bill with a vote of 11–0, with one abstention. The bill amends the Allocations Handbook to allow the Appropriations Committee — the group that allocates funds to student organizations — to fund registration and admission fees for virtual conferences and events that student organizations want to attend.
A previous policy in the SGC Allocations Handbook, located in Article VI, Section D, Subsection B, Sub-Subsection I, Sub-Sub-Subsection E, stated that the committee does not fund registration fees for any events that student organizations travel to. The bill removes the policy and replaces it with a new statement that explains how the SGC will fund registration fees associated with registration for travel events for the 2020–21 academic year.
The student clubs and organizations website states that student organization travel will not be authorized during the 2020–21 academic year as a result of COVID-19.
The resolution was sponsored by junior Max Powers, senator-at-large, and co-sponsored by Ruffino and sophomore Grace Madeya, vice president of business and finance.
Madeya said that the issue was brought to the attention of the Appropriations Committee by the Ithaca College Physical Therapy Students of Color, an action that demonstrated that student organizations were interested in seeing the policy changed.
“This is kind of the best way we can help clubs right now who were planning on traveling, and then the plans might have gotten changed to a virtual conference,” Madeya said.