The Word - 2009/10/27

 

 

The Word from CSEA

Columbus State Education Association Newsletter of October 27, 2009

CSEA ELECTION RESULTS

The results of the CSEA elections are in, and the following faculty have been elected to positions within the Association:

 

Vice-President: Kevin James
Parliamentarian: Ingrid Emch
Association Representatives: Cindy Evans, Gil Feiertag, Jim Kimnach, Sue Longenbaker, Eric Neubauer, Antoinette Perkins, and Mike Schumacher
Delegates to the OEA Representative Assembly: Sherry Crawford-Eyen, Tom Robbins, Julia Shew, and Martha Sucheston

 

CSEA would like to congratulate each of these faculty members, and thank all those faculty who stood for election this year. Newly-elected officers, Association Representatives, and RA Delegates will assume their positions beginning winter quarter.

We also wish to thank the members of this year's Elections Committee - Greg Goodhart (chair), Beth Barnett, Mary Ann Canter, and Alesa Mansfield - for their efforts in coordinating this year's elections.

"THE RIGHT TO DO A THING" VS. "THE RIGHT THING TO DO"

In our last issue of The Word, we included an item about the fact that a chairperson had been parking in a reserved parking space, with a sign indicating that the space was "Reserved for Distinguished Teacher Mary Vaughn." We indicated that we had attempted to address our concerns discreetly by communicating them directly with the chairperson, that we did not receive any reply from the chairperson, and we expressed our dismay that a chairperson would accept such a gift from someone whom she immediately supervises and that the sign incorrectly named her as a Distinguished Teacher, an honor that she did not earn and should not claim.

To date, we still have not received any communication from Ms. Vaughn expressing any regrets for her actions, no indication from her acknowledging that there was a lapse in judgment for accepting the reserved parking space, and no indication from her that having her name on a "Distinguished Teacher" sign caused her any concern.

We have, however, received additional information from others regarding the events that transpired in this matter. Had Ms. Vaughn communicated some of this information herself (or been allowed to), it would have allowed a healthy two-way discussion to occur that undoubtedly would have led to a resolution acceptable to all parties. But not responding to concerns in a direct and timely way is rarely productive and often leads to unnecessary conflict.

1. Apparently, Ms. Vaughn accepted the offer of the reserved parking space very reluctantly. We are told that she initially declined the offer, that she indicated she usually arrives on campus very early and has no need for a reserved parking space, and that it was only after being asked several times to accept it that she acquiesced.

It is admirable that Ms. Vaughn's initial reply was the correct one. It is unfortunate that she eventually relented, and accepted the reserved parking space. Regardless of how much begging, pleading, cajoling, etc., may have occurred, the correct response is still "No, I should not and cannot accept this offer from someone whom I supervise."

As faculty, we all should know the correct response when a student enrolled in one of our classes, and whom we will be evaluating, offers us something of worth (whether of monetary value or not). If a student enrolled in one of our classes offers us a press pass (no monetary face value) to an OSU football game, we must decline the offer, no matter how much they beg and plead with us to accept their offer.

We believe it was, minimally, a lapse in judgment for Ms. Vaughn to have accepted the offer of a reserved parking space from someone whom she supervises.

2. We are told that Ms. Vaughn checked with her supervisor(s) about whether she could/should accept the reserved parking space.

It is not clear what kind of advice Ms. Vaughn may have been seeking - only she and her supervisor(s) know the answer to this. If she was asking about whether or not she is allowed (legally/contractually) to accept a parking space that belongs to someone else, then she took the appropriate action by consulting with her supervisor(s). If she was asking about whether or not she should (ethically) accept a parking space from someone whom she supervises, then we are disappointed that she needed to ask others for input into this decision.

3. We are told that Ms. Vaughn was advised not to communicate with CSEA President Darrell Minor after his email to her on October 5.

We do not know why Ms. Vaughn chose to consult with Human Resources about the ethical (not contractual) questions raised in the email, rather than responding herself. But if, after contacting HR about the email, the advice from HR was to not communicate with CSEA about this, we believe it was bad advice given from HR, and bad advice heeded. At the very least, a communication from Ms. Vaughn that she had forwarded our concerns on to HR and that she had been advised to let them handle it would have avoided much conflict.

CSEA understands that when matters of contractual interpretation are raised, it may be necessary to limit communications to being between Human Resources and CSEA leadership. But this issue was never about contractual matters. In the email sent to Ms. Vaughn (the complete text of which is included at the end of this item), we never questioned whether or not the contract allowed for her to accept the reserved parking space. We only pointed out the ethical questions that it raised. This has never been about "the right to do a thing" (legally or contractually), but has only been about "the right thing to do" (ethically).

The reason this issue is of tremendous importance to the CSEA is because faculty have been disciplined for similar lapses in judgment. If the College administration believes that a one-time lapse in judgment merits disciplinary action for faculty, then similar one-time lapses in judgment should merit equal disciplinary action for administrators. Conversely, if the administration believes that such lapses in judgment do not merit disciplinary action, then that needs to be made clear and applied uniformly across the College. There cannot be a double standard.

Some faculty from the Integrated Media and Technology Department have offered their support of their chairperson, Ms. Vaughn. They have noted that she has been quite supportive of them as faculty, and of their programs. We appreciate their feedback, and note that the concerns we have raised are not about Ms. Vaughn's lack of support of individual faculty members or of programs within her department, but are limited to her actions in the matter of the acceptance of a reserved parking space from a subordinate, of her name being publically displayed on a sign naming her as a Distinguished Teacher, of her lack of response to the concerns that we raised with her, and her continued use of a reserved parking space nine days later. CSEA stands by the concerns that we have raised as to how this matter has been handled, and have communicated our desire to the Administration to see this come to an appropriate conclusion.

The complete text of the email that CSEA President Darrell Minor sent to Ms. Vaughn on October 5 follows. This was CSEA's attempt to handle this matter in a collegial fashion. After not getting any reply from Ms. Vaughn for nine days (and a full five days after HR indicated an awareness of our concerns about the sign), and noting that Ms. Vaughn was still parking in a space with her name on a Distinguished Teacher sign, President Minor raised the matter with Human Resources and requested that the "Reserved for Distinguished Teacher Mary Vaughn" sign be removed that day. When the sign remained up, CSEA communicated to faculty (many of whom had joined staff and administrators in contacting CSEA about the sign) the status of the situation in our newsletter. We remain hopeful that our next communication regarding this will be to inform you that the College has taken appropriate action to address this ethical lapse in a manner consistent with how the College has dealt in the past with similar lapses in judgment by faculty.

Mary,

It's been brought to my attention that there is a sign reserving a parking space for you behind Davidson and Rhodes halls, with the sign indicating something like "Reserved for Distinguished Teacher Mary Vaughn". I am guessing that Gene Strickland offered you the use of the parking space which he was to be given as part of his Distinguished Teaching recognition.

I appreciate that Gene may have done this of his own accord, and that you probably graciously accepted his offer, but I must raise the concerns with you that have been expressed to me already by faculty who have seen the sign in the parking lot - concerns which I share. The primary concern is that, if this precedent is set, then it opens the door for future chairpersons to either subtly, or not-so-subtly, hint at wanting similar favors from faculty who win the DT award and whom they supervise. This is especially a concern for non-tenured faculty, or for faculty who may already have other conflicts with their immediate supervisor and feel that this could be a gesture of good will which may be reciprocated in some way. Other have expressed concerns that include the "watering down" of the recognition if someone who did not actually win the award is being recognized as if they had.

I wanted to raise these concerns with you first, and give you a chance to reply and/or see if we can work this out in a collegial fashion. I hope you understand the legitimacy of these concerns, even if you believe they do not apply to this specific instance. If we aren't able to agree together on what is the right thing to do regarding this, then I will be raising these concerns in other venues.

I appreciate your timely response.

Thank you,

Darrell

STRS LEGISLATIVE TIMELINE

On Wednesday, October 14, the Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC) met to review proposed changes to the state retirement systems. The chair of the ORSC, state representative Todd Book (D-McDermott), indicated that the ORSC is working with the Legislative Service Commission to draft legislation based on the proposed changes. Rep. Book indicated that such legislation would likely be introduced toward the end of this year or early in 2010. Any changes to pension benefits require a change in state law.

OEA is not supporting the plan approved by the STRS Board. Although many of the initial ideas that were suggested for addressing the shortage in funding of the pension plan have been significantly improved upon, the final recommendations from the STRS Board remain unacceptable. As things progress, we expect to communicate ways that faculty can help further improve the proposed legislation.

IMPROVING THE PLIGHT OF PART-TIME FACULTY

Ohio Senator Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) has introduced Senate Bill 129, which would allow Ohio's 13,000+ part-time faculty to have the same collective bargaining rights as full-time faculty. Currently, part-time higher education faculty in Ohio are exempted from "public employee" status under Ohio's collective bargaining law.

If passed, Ohio would join states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin in granting part-time higher education faculty collective bargaining rights.


The Word is produced by the Communications Committee of the Columbus State Education Association. We welcome your comments, news, and insights.

Darrell Minor, President/ x5310
Amy Brubaker, Vice-President / x5068
Judy Anderson, Secretary / x5453
Phil MacLean, Treasurer / x5308
Kevin James, Parliamentarian-elect / x5008

Steve Abbott, Senior Association Representative / x5096
Gil Feiertag, Senior Association Representative / x5861
Beth Barnett, Association Representative / x2593
Liz Betzel, Association Representative / x5329
Dave Busch, Association Representative / x5079
Dr. Bill Cook, Association Representative / x5364
T.J. Duda, Association Representative / x5309
Cindy Evans, Association Representative / x2435
Dr. Charlie Gallucci, Association Representative / x5499
Dr. Mort Javadi, Association Representative / x5635
Dr. Sue Longenbaker, Association Representative / x2430
Jackie Miller, Association Representative / x2601
Mark Mitchell, Association Representative / x3612
Eric Nuebauer, Association Representative / x5698
Keith Sanders, Association Representative / x2588
Gilberto Serrano, Association Representative / x3863
Leslie Smith, Association Representative / x5302


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