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March 16, 1994

Date: March 16, 1994

 

         UNIVERSITY COMMITTEE ON EQUAL OPPORTUNITY/AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

                                    MINUTES

                                MARCH 16, 1994

 

 

  Present:  C. Burger, T. Dillaha, C. Eggleston, T. Fairbanks, M. Flynn, L.

            Graham, R. Hayman, K. Heidbreder, J. Hiller, M. Holmes, G.

            Holtzman, P.  Hyer, L. D. Moore, B. Pendergrass,  V. Reilly, L.

            Roy, A. Spencer, R. Stith, V. Tran, B. Whitlock, E. Braaten, D.

            Scott (for C. Pinder).  Guest: Elizabeth Creamer.

 

  CALL TO ORDER:  Ms. Kay Heidbreder, substituting as chair for Dr. Holford,

  called the meeting to order at 3:00 p.m.

 

  ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA:  The agenda was adopted as presented.

 

  ADOPTION OF THE MINUTES:  Minutes for the February 16, 1994 meeting were

  approved.

 

  REPORT OF THE AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AWARD SELECTION COMMITTEE:  Ms. Michele

  Holmes reported that of the 14 nominations, the following were selected as

  recipients: individual award - Dr. Thomas Hunt for his work with the Uni-

  versity Honor System, the Education Committee of the Montgomery County

  NAACP, and the Social Justice and Diversity Committee at Virginia Tech;

  campus organization and group award - the Native American Program of the

  YMCA for programs and activities developed to promote awareness, under-

  standing, and appreciation of the Native American ways of life;

  department/college/unit award - the Physical Plant Department for employing

  the disabled and developing a training program for disadvantaged high

  school students.  Members are invited to attend the awards presentation on

  April 13, 2:00 p.m. in Alumni Hall of the Donaldson Brown Center.

 

  CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS FOR INCENTIVE GRANTS REVIEW COMMITTEE:  Dr. Hyer said

  the committee will have one three-hour meeting within ten days after the

  April 8 due date for proposals.  Dr. Moore and Dr.  Braaten agreed to

  serve, leaving two positions open.  Dr. Hyer will draft from the remaining

  pool of EO/AA Committee members.

 

  REPORTS FROM SUBCOMMITTEES:

 

  o   RETENTION TASK FORCE:  Ms. Delores Scott reported that the subcommittee

      intends to conduct focus group studies on underrepresented segments of

      the faculty and administrative population, with a pilot program this

      summer and the actual studies to begin in the Fall of 1994.  They asked

      the Committee for direction as to which segments to examine.  Ms.

      Heidbreder suggested those groups covered under the university's non-

      discrimination statement, as it includes a sexual orientation clause,

      which federal law does not.  Dr. Hyer recommended that the subcommittee

      choose and complete at least one focus group study with an acute re-

      tention problem.  She offered to share what personnel data she has.

 

  o   DIVERSITY SUBCOMMITTEE:  Dr. Roy announced a diversity grants writing

      workshop to be held April 26 in the CEC, starting at 7:30-8:30 a.m.

      with a breakfast, and the workshops to follow from 8:30-11:30 a.m.  The

      subcommittee intends to invite Dr. Moore, Julie Sina, Val Giddings and

      others who have been successful in diversity grant writing efforts to

      help participants produce about six different proposals, at least in

      outline form.  The event is free, sponsored by the EO/AA Office and

      perhaps Arts and Sciences, with anticipated attendance of 30 people, by

      invitation only, and with all colleges represented.

 

      Dr. Moore hopes the workshop will act as a springboard for bringing all

      the colleges together for a diversity initiative that is university-

      wide: Tech would apply for external corporate funding as a university,

      and not individually.  The coordinated effort would likely result in

      increased grant awards and more innovative programs.

 

      Dr. Roy said the subcommittee also wants to assemble its own file of

      past successful proposals to use as models.

 

  o   MONITORING SUBCOMMITTEE:  Ms. Carol Eggleston reported that they will

      make recommendations for next year's subcommittee to oversee minority

      business involvement in Purchasing and to monitor the EO/AA Office.

      Regarding Title IX, the subcommittee did send a letter to Minnis

      Ridenour in January asking that the EO/AA Committee be allowed to par-

      ticipate in Title IX discussions.

 

 

  o   REVISIONS TO SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICY:  Dr. Hyer presented her subcom-

      mittee's draft revisions which are intended to remove implementation

      problems and bring the policy into compliance with federal law.  A dis-

      cussion on the consensual relationship policy ensued.

 

      Ms. Brandy Whitlock, Student Government Association representative,

      wished the Committee to know that a common peer reaction to the

      consensual relationship proposals is discomfort with the insinuation

      that women students in particular are not intelligent enough to make

      their own decisions, are viewed as potential victims, and need to be

      protected from exploitation, as they are unable to do so themselves.

 

      Members responded that research suggests students, by virtue of their

      status, are highly vulnerable; that the prohibition protects not just

      female, but also male students; and that third-party interests need to

      be protected (e.g., favoritism/preferential treatment).

 

      Dr. Roy asked what action would result, per the policy, if a faculty

      member were to engage in a consensual relationship with a student while

      in a position of authority.  Dr. Hyer and Ms. Heidbreder said that that

      member would be asked to remove himself from either the relationship or

      that position, and failure to do so could result in the sanctions con-

      tained within the policy.

 

      Consensual relationships between tenured and untenured faculty was

      raised.  The tenured member would have to remove him/herself from any

      committee in which, for example, a decision about reappointment was be-

      ing made.  Similarly, if a student were to take a class, someone other

      than the involved faculty member would have to grade the student, or

      the student would have to change sections, or some other method of re-

      solution would be found.

 

      The discussion shifted to how narrowly or how broadly to define and

      spell out those relationships wherein an "ability to influence" exists.

 

      In reviewing the first sentence of the Consensual Relationships sub-

      section, Mr. Terry Fairbanks said that "direct" should be inserted in

      front of supervision and evaluation so as to more narrowly define the

      scope.

 

      Ms. Heidbreder disagreed, stating that the broader interpretation is

      necessary because of the wide range of ways in which influence can be

      improperly exercised over another person.

 

      Dr. Hyer responded that according to a recent legal review article, the

      more narrowly proscribed prohibitions on consensual relationships could

      survive a legal test better than the more broadly described ones in a

      public institution.

 

      Mr. Richard Hayman mentioned as a relevant side issue that the ability

      to influence extends beyond the confines of teacher/student and

      supervisor/subordinate relationships; that, from a classified staff

      perspective, there exists a less obvious imbalance of power from indi-

      viduals outside the direct supervisory chain who have considerable po-

      tential influence, whether over an evaluation or being able to

      influence a supervisor's perception of an employee's work performance.

 

      Dr. Holtzman suggested that, as a matter of strategy for winning Fac-

      ulty Senate approval, the Committee start with a narrow, strongly

      stated definition of relationships that will be difficult to argue

      against and can eventually be broadened.

 

      As time was running short and discussion of the policy was not com-

      plete, the Committee agreed to schedule a special meeting for its con-

      tinuation.

 

  o   INCLEMENT WEATHER POLICY  (Issue was first discussed at February 1994

      meeting.)  Ms. Heidbreder stated that according to Wyatt Sasser, Direc-

      tor of Custodial Services, it's a long-standing policy that all house-

      keeping staff are considered essential personnel in events of inclement

      weather, that it is so stated in position descriptions and told to

      staff at the time of hire.

 

      Ms. Ann Spencer said that the issue of which members of housekeeping

      staff are to be designated as essential during inclement weather is

      currently being addressed within the entire Physical Plant by manage-

      ment through management channels.

 

      Mr. Hayman responded that while he acknowledges management's preroga-

      tive to classify employees as essential, differential treatment exists

      between the housekeeping staff in housing/residence life and that in

      physical plant who are additionally required to perform snow removal,

      even though they are classified the same.  And secondly, if weather

      conditions prohibit physical plant staff from reporting to work, they

      must forfeit an annual leave or compensatory day, unlike some other

      classified employees.

 

      The concensus of Committee members was that this is not a case of

      classism and not within the Committee's purview; that until this year's

      severe winter, the inclement weather policy had probably been forgot-

      ten; that it's a communication problem or organizational issue best

      handled by physical plant management; and that perhaps it's a job clas-

      sification matter for the state personnel system.

 

                      The meeting was adjourned at 4:10 p.m.

 

              NEXT MEETING IS SCHEDULED FOR WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20, 1994

 

        SUBCOMMITTEES WILL MEET FROM 2:00 - 2:30 P.M. IN THE FOLLOWING

        CEC ROOMS:  POLICY SUBCOMMITTEE - CONFERENCE ROOM E; RETENTION

        TASK FORCE - CONFERENCE ROOM D; DIVERSITY SUBCOMMITTEE AND MON-

        ITORING SUBCOMMITTEE IN CONFERENCE ROOM F, WHICH WILL BE DI-

        VIDED TO ACOMMODATE BOTH.  THE GROUP WILL CONVENE AS A WHOLE

        FROM 2:30 - 4:00 P.M. IN CONFERENCE ROOM E.

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