Faculty discuss ACCRIP replacement, Academic Code

Faculty members discussed a proposed motion to replace the Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies with a new committee that would have a broader scope at Tuesday’s faculty meeting.

They also passed eight motions relating to the Academic Code, faculty committee membership and a new Masters of Science program.

ACCRIP considers issues of “moral responsibility in the investment policies,” while the new committee —  the Advisory Committee on University Resources Management — would expand on ACCRIP’s duties and “specifically (identify) issues related to social responsibility with regard to the endowment, business practices, labor issues, gift acceptance and other related matters,” The Herald previously reported.

The motion to replace ACCRIP has received criticism from undergraduates and student coalition Brown Divest, who are concerned that the replacement would decrease student involvement, weaken ACCRIP’s independence and complicate divestment efforts, The Herald previously reported.

Brown Divest released a public statement opposing the motion last week, and members of the coalition handed out a printed version of the statement to faculty members as they entered the meeting.

Faculty were initially set to vote on the motion at Tuesday’s meeting, but the vote was postponed to the fall to allow more time for deliberation.

Several faculty members who spoke during the meeting commended the vote postponement and emphasized the importance of increased discussion of the motion.

James Morgan, incoming Faculty Executive Committee chair and professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences, said he will aim to coordinate a “campus-wide forum to discuss these issues” in collaboration with the Undergraduate Council of Students and Graduate Student Council in the fall.

Provost Richard Locke P’18 also supported a forum to discuss the motion. “It’s really troubling to hear of the tenuous trust or growing distrust in the community,” he said. “I think this is an administration that tries very, very hard to be transparent. … We should have a very open forum … to rebuild that trust.”

Some professors expressed concern with a clause in the proposed motion that prohibits ACURM from making recommendations that advance positions on “social or political questions unrelated to the investment or expenditure of University financial resources under consideration,” according to the proposed motion.

Issues that have to do with funding, expenditure and investment are “inherently political. So we cannot really create a wall between that and the funding activities of the University,” said Professor of Archaeology Yannis Hamilakis.

Current chair of the FEC and Professor of Political Science Ross Cheit and President Christina Paxson P’19 also provided more context for the proposed committee during the meeting.

“My hope with (the transition) was actually to make this a more robust committee that would think in a consistent way about moral and ethical issues across a broader range of business activities,” President Christina Paxson P’19 said. “The rest of (the change) is really driven by faculty governance issues.”

Cheit addressed the proposal’s potential reduction of the size of the committee from 11 to eight members, which Brown Divest questioned in its public statement. “I don’t think anyone is deeply invested in changing the size of this committee,” he said. “The thought was that it might be helpful for the issues the FEC was concerned about in governance review.”

Those issues, which Cheit presented as part of the FEC’s faculty governance report, include difficulty recruiting faculty to serve on University committees.  

According to the proposed motion, the Committee on Nominations — which nominates faculty members for committee positions —  would select potential faculty representatives to ACURM in consultation with the University president. In their public statement, Brown Divest had expressed concern that this provision would give Paxson too much influence over faculty membership on ACURM.

“Consult does not mean veto. It’s not advice and consent. It’s consult,” Cheit said.

Professor of History and FEC member Nancy Jacobs said the new method of membership selection was proposed to increase faculty interest in the committee.

At the meeting, faculty also passed a motion presented by Dean of the College Rashid Zia ’01 to replace the mandate and membership of the Standing Committee on the Academic Code, which holds hearings and makes decisions on academic code violations cases.

The committee will now be required to regularly review and revise the Academic Code, and its membership will be expanded effective immediately to include one undergraduate student, one graduate student and one medical student, each of whom will participate in hearings involving students in their respective schools. The committee did not previously include University students, according to the Academic Code.

The FEC, which manages faculty governance, presented six successful motions to change the nominee selection and candidate election processes for membership on five University committees.

The motions aim to ease the burden faced by those on the Committee on Nominations and preserve faculty voice in determining committee memberships, Morgan said.

“It has become increasingly difficult to find enough people to serve” on committees, Morgan said.

During the meeting, the faculty also passed a motion to establish a Masters of Science program in Medical Physics that will have a 10-student capacity, and at the end of the meeting, the faculty heard reports from several committees.

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