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September 26, 2023

FSU Executive Committee Meeting Minutes

September 26, 2023, 2:00pm (M-4-624 and Zoom)

Executive Committee Members Present: Caroline Coscia (President); Sana Haroon (Vice President); Lynne Benson; Dana Commesso; Monique Fuguet; Jessica Holden; Linda Liu; Jared Poole; Brian White

Others Present: Lorenzo Nencioli (FSU Senior Staff Member); Katie D’Urso (MTA Field Rep); Martha Patrick (University Ombudsperson); Suha Ballout; Chris Denning; Travis Johnston; José Martinez-Reyes; Jeff Melnick; Lorna Rivera; Natalia Scarpetti; Steve Striffler

  1. Martha Patrick, University Ombudsperson: FSU proposed an ombuds program in 2021. Martha Patrick is the university’s new ombudsperson. Martha introduces herself and explains her role. She serves faculty, staff, students at all levels, and anyone else who is part of the UMB community. Ombuds are designed to be responsive to the organization’s needs. Ombuds don’t have institutional authority, don’t create policies, and don’t override administrative decisions. Martha is trained as a conflict coach. She can help staff make anonymous inquiries, serve as an intermediary between parties in dispute, offer resources and referrals, and help clarify policies, procedures, and norms. The ombuds program is voluntary and free. Martha’s office is room 171 on the 2nd floor of Wheatley. Appointments are required.

  2. Approval of Minutes: Motion to approve the minutes of the September 12 Executive Committee meeting. Motion seconded. Motion passes.

  3. Membership: Lynne and Caroline tabled last week. There are two bags from MTA of materials for tabling in the union office. Materials will include MTA’s petition forms to remove MCAS as a graduation requirement. This is MTA’s current big effort, and we are trying to get it on the ballot; 75,000 certified signatures are required. Signees must be registered voters.

  4. GEO and TA Guidelines: GEO wants to work together with FSU on clarifying work expectations and guidelines for graduate student employees. Jared met with Jonathan and Warren from GEO on the 21st. How do we strengthen and preserve the connection between GEO and FSU? Graduate students’ working conditions are under the direct supervision of faculty. All faculty who are assigned a teaching assistant or research assistant should be informed that graduate student employees are union workers who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement. When GEO bargains with the administration, there is ambiguity regarding their work expectations. We could create a one-pager to provide guidance and inform faculty about the GEO contract.

  5. TT Special Election: FSU will have a contested election. Four individuals are running. The Elections Committee will send out the candidates’ slate by the end of today. There will be a candidates’ forum on Friday at 2:00.

  6. University Website: Discussion of the new university website and its many flaws. The head of the university website team spoke with Faculty Council but did not give satisfactory answers regarding the current state of the new website. This affects our working life. The website includes incorrect information throughout. Discussion of creating a petition to restore the old website until the new website is thoroughly vetted and corrected.

  7. FSU Communications: Discussion of The Point: clarifying plans for the composition of the subcommittee and the publication schedule going forward. The minutes of the April 28, 2023 Executive Committee state: “Discussion of what will happen with The Point after Jeff’s Ex Com term is up (end of Spring 23). Agreement that Jeff and Steve Striffler, with Linda’s help, will work on this over summer. Can meet with Caroline and Sana to discuss recruiting people to write.” Concerns regarding workload (The Point was previously published every Monday) and editorial oversight. Other FSU committees include members who are not on the Executive Committee. However, The Point is an Executive Committee publication and is the voice of the Ex Comm. Going forward, there should be a committee that includes current Executive Committee members in order to maintain editorial and scheduling oversight. The committee members can identify guest authors from the FSU membership and/or can write issues themselves. The Point does not need to be published on a weekly basis now but can be published ad hoc. Agreement that the Point committee will comprise Linda Liu, Lynne Benson, Jared Poole, Jeff Melnick, and Steve Striffler. Motion to add Monique Fuguet to the committee. Motion seconded. Motion passes. The committee will meet to make plans for moving forward.