Faculty to Vote Privately on Dissent Policy, Praise Restorative Justice

The Reed College Faculty convened on Monday to discuss changes to the dissent policy, the creation of a system of restorative justice in the Reed community, and the introduction of minors into Reed’s academic program. The meeting lasted longer than scheduled, and was heavily attended by faculty, along with many student representatives of senate, Honor Council and the Restorative Justice Coalition.

The big-ticket item on the docket was the faculty vote on a proposal to edit Reed’s dissent policy. The proposed changes to the policy aim to disentangle violations of the dissent policy from violations of Reed’s Honor Principle. However, as the vote for that item was about to begin, a faculty member of the economics department moved that the vote take place electronically, which would allow faculty members to vote on the issue from their emails at a later time. He cited the large number of students attending the meeting as the reason for this change. The faculty voted in favor of holding the dissent policy vote electronically, and moved on to other items on the docket.

Tensions seemed to diminish as student members of the Restorative Justice committee took the floor, alongside Vice President for Student Services Mike Brody, to present their proposal for a restorative justice process to the faculty. Though a vote on this item will not take place until next month’s meeting, several faculty members stood up to express their support for the proposal. Professor of Philosophy Paul Hovda voiced his approval, though he expressed concern over the issue of confidentiality and how information presented within the restorative justice process might be withheld from, for example, an ensuing honor case. Other professors discussed the level of emotional labor that would be required of restorative justice facilitators, and had questions about the facilitator training process. Overall, many members of the faculty expressed strong support for the proposal.

Alongside the big-ticket items of Restorative Justice and the dissent policy, Professor of History David Garrett presented, according to Acting President Hugh Porter, “the world’s biggest CAPP [Committee on Academic Policy and Planning] report.” They presented multiple policy proposals up for a future faculty vote. The first main item that CAPP presented to the faculty was a proposal to allow students to satisfy two of their six required PE credits with community service, completed through Students for Education, Empowerment, and Direct Service (SEEDS). While several members of CAPP spoke in favor of the suggestion, Professor of Political Science Peter Steinberger spoke out against it, expressing concern that students would not be getting enough exercise and questioning the idea of lumping together physical education and community service.

Eventually, Garrett reached the main item on the CAPP docket: minors. CAPP had finally finalized the language needed to create a system of minors at Reed, and while the final quorum vote has not yet occurred, the faculty did vote to approve this version of the language. According to Garrett, minors would only be available for existing programs and departments, and would generally require 5–6 classes to complete. However, the details of each minor — and whether or not any given department will even offer a minor — will be completely up to that department. The only major limitation that CAPP has imposed is that a student cannot complete coursework towards a minor that is within their major, causing some concern from interdisciplinary programs like Environmental Studies, that have a lot of coursework within other departments and programs.

Finally, to wrap up the lengthy meeting, Professor of English and chair of the English department Gail Sherman addressed the faculty with a message about civil discourse. “We’ve seen norms of professional behavior erode over the past several years,” Sherman told the gathered faculty, and she urged the faculty to communally craft a statement that would affirm the importance of civility in discourse among faculty and staff. It was a fitting message to cap off a faculty meeting that had its fair share of terse disagreements, many of which are sure to carry over into the broader Reed community in the coming weeks.

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