ABSTRACT of the Faculty Senate Meeting – January 23, 2012


Karen Stout, Faculty Senate President, called the meeting of the 2011-2012 Faculty Senate to order at 4:03 pm.

Senators accepted the Senate minutes of January 9, 2012 and Standing Committee minutes.

§  President Stout offered an update on the student on-campus game, “Humans vs. Zombies” and Stephanie Treneer and Jim Graham reported on their meeting with student activities representatives.  Recommendations included finding more ways to inform faculty that a game is about to happen and capping the number of players to preserve the 10 to 1 ratio of players to moderators.  Senators suggest that no play of any kind take place inside academic buildings.

§  Stout asked Senators to remind constituents that now is the time to nominate faculty for excellence in teaching, scholarship, and leadership awards.  Process information can be found on the Provost’s website at http://www.wwu.edu/provost/faculty/awards.shtml

§  President Shepard reported that parents and graduates have high praise for Western as a premier institution, and that continuing efforts are beginning to pay off as legislators come to see faculty as credible trustworthy sources of information. 

§  Shepard reported on letters he wrote in support of:  1) a proposal requiring no additional funding that would make Engineering Technology an accredited engineering program; and 2) legislation regarding marriage equality that increases our ability as a talent-based enterprise to recruit the most talented faculty and staff.

§  Shepard discussed campus opening on snow days and heard faculty suggest finding ways in which they can bring their children to campus when K-12 schools are closed.

§  Provost Riordan thanked the 95% of the faculty who contributed to tenure and promotion of colleagues in a positive way, and reported on rebasing efforts that concentrated on access to quality last year and will focus on programmatic initiatives this year in light of the 6-year plan.

§  Dan Boxberger, FLR, sent his report from Olympia on a broad drive to allow access to syllabi and teaching materials through an open courseware legislative initiative.  Boxberger encourages faculty to review open courseware in their individual disciplines at http://www.WAOL.org and let him know what you think.

§  MOTIONS:  Senators reviewed revisions to Appendix 5 to the Faculty Handbook regarding consensual personal relationships and passed a Motion to accept revised Sections 7 and 8 of the Code of Faculty Ethics with the caveat that some minor changes can still be made.  (text follows abstract)

§  Senators passed a Motion to create a committee to review Section 6 of the Code of Faculty Ethics to ensure proper inclusion of text related to Academic Freedom.

§  Senators passed a Motion to approve the 2012 Senate Election calendar.

Senators adjourned at 5:40 pm without caucus.


Appointments and Elections:   Jackie Caplan-Auerbach, 2011-12 Officer

Appointed To the Faculty Senate:  Milica Jelaca Jovanovic, Music, replacing Cynthia Camlin thru Spring 2012.

Nominated to Service & Activities Fee committee:  David Fewings, Finance & Marketing, thru 2014 (President Shepard appoints).   To Student Publications Council:  Cher Carnell, Theater and Dance,     

 VACANCIES:  1 Senator for each:  Academic Technology Committee and Senate Library Committee                          

                               Student Publications Council:  1 faculty thru Spring 2013

                               Campus Dining Committee:  1 faculty 2012 thru 2014



CODE OF FACULTY ETHICS:  Faculty Handbook:  Appendix 5


Section 7: Conflict of Interest Resulting from Family and/or Intimate Personal Relationships in Employment Situations (See POL U5410.01)


 “Family Members” shall mean members of the same immediate or extended family, such as   spouse, sibling, parent, legal guardian, child. 


“Intimate Personal Relationship” shall mean emotional or physical relationship that has sexual or romantic overtones. This definition also includes persons in a co-habitation relationship and any persons engaged in a romantic or sexual relationship.


The university employs and retains the best qualified individuals as members of the faculty, administration, and staff. The protection of the individual as well as of the university, however, requires certain safeguards from potential conflicts of interest.


No faculty member, department chair, academic dean, or other academic administrative officer of Western Washington University, including the President and Provost, shall participate in any decision that directly affects the condition of employment with the university for family members or partners in an intimate personal relationship. These decisions include appointment, evaluation, promotion, retention, discipline, or dismissal.


Whenever a department chairperson, academic dean, or other administrative officer would in the normal course of business participate in a decision prohibited under this section, the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs shall delegate the responsibility for such a decision to an appropriate person.


No employee shall review, audit, or administer public funds under the control of another family member or partner in an intimate personal relationship.


When employees discover that their duties will lead to making decisions that directly affect the condition of employment at the university for family members or partners in an intimate personal relationship, they will promptly inform their immediate supervisors (i.e., chair, director, dean, etc.) and request that those duties be assigned to different employees.


Section 8:  Consensual Intimate Personal Relationships Between Faculty and Students (See POL 1600.xxxx)


 “Intimate personal relationship” shall mean emotional or physical relationship that has sexual or romantic overtones.

“Faculty” shall mean all those who hold tenure-track, tenured, and non-tenure track faculty appointments.

“Students” shall mean students in a faculty member’s class, a student employee under a faculty’s supervision such as graduate teaching or research assistant or a student who was or may be mentored, advised or evaluated in any way by a faculty member.

Intimate personal relationships between faculty members and students currently in the faculty member’s class or under that individual’s supervision are prohibited and considered a violation of the Code of Ethics, since the faculty member has professional responsibility for the student. (See Section 7 of this Code regarding “Conflict of Interest Resulting from Family Relationships.)  Intimate personal relationships between faculty members and students occurring outside the instructional and supervisory context may also lead to difficulties, particularly when the faculty member and student are in the same academic unit or in units that are academically allied.  In such situations, the faculty member may face serious conflicts of interest and should be careful to maintain distance from any decisions that may reward or penalize the student involved.  A faculty member who fails to withdraw from participation in activities or decisions that may reward or penalize a student with whom the faculty member has or had an intimate personal relationship is considered to be in violation of the Code of Ethics.

The university’s educational mission is promoted by professionalism in faculty-student and supervisor-subordinate (e.g., faculty and teaching or graduate assistant; advisor and student) relationships which are maintained by an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.  Actions that negatively impact this atmosphere undermine professionalism and the fulfillment of the university’s educational mission. Intimate personal relationships between faculty members and currently enrolled students are unwise because of the trust accorded to the faculty by their students.  Faculty and supervisors have power over students through grading, evaluating creative and scholarly endeavors, making recommendations for further studies or future employment, or conferring any other benefits.  Intimate personal relationships between faculty and students or supervisors and students create the risk of real or perceived favoritism toward the student in the personal relationship and potential harm to this and other students. When a power disparity exists in the academic or employment association of the individuals in the intimate personal relationship, the academic or employment interests of the student must be protected.

Trust and respect are diminished when those in positions of authority abuse or appear to abuse their power. Those who abuse or appear to abuse their power violate their duty to the university community. Such situations greatly increase the chances that faculty may abuse their power and emotionally or sexually exploit the student.  Voluntary consent by the student in such relationship is legally questionable, given the fundamentally asymmetric nature of the relationship.  Moreover, other students and faculty may be affected by such unprofessional behavior because it places the faculty member in a position to favor or advance one student’s interest at the expense of others and implicitly makes obtaining benefits contingent on continuing the intimate personal relationship.

Individuals should be aware that consensual personal relationships that are intimate (emotionally or physically) or romantic or sexual in nature, may result in claims of sexual harassment (See POL-U1600.04) because the voluntariness of the consent is legally questionable due to the power differential that exists between faculty and students and supervisors and students. This differential makes such relationships vulnerable to exploitation and to claims of exploitation. If a sexual harassment claim subsequently is filed by a student in an intimate personal relationship with his/her faculty member or supervisor, this matter will be subjected to investigation regardless of whether it could be at any point characterized as a consensual relationship.