Texas State's Faculty Senate members voiced concerns with the university’s decision to hold an in-person socially-distanced commencement and the announcement that some staff members would be required to attend.
Faculty Senate member Nicole Wesley believes that it would be inconsiderate of the university to ignore its faculty’s opinions and force staff to attend the event.
“I was concerned about the staff that do not have a choice on attending the commencement,” Wesley said. “[The Provost] didn’t really specify how many people it was, but he did mention that there are more staff that were going to be required to attend, and my concern is that the percentages of faculty and staff were very similar in that the majority don’t want to attend.”
Michael Supancic, assistant professor in the school of justice and criminology and Faculty Senate member, explained the requirement to attend commencement falls on specific faculty and staff, and is not a requirement for all.
“The requirement is primarily for the staff who work on the tenth floor and in the Provost division.” Supancic said. “So, everyone in curriculum services, anyone in admin or support staff for the Provost for academic affairs, because part of their job description supposedly is to participate in commencement.”
The university has not released an official statement regarding the exact amount of people that will be required to attend commencement, however the faculty senate has estimated that it will most likely be over 15 people.
“There’s at least close to a dozen people on the tenth floor that typically participate in commencement.” Supancic said. “And I don’t know how many advising centers will also have to require some of their staff to participate.”
Faculty Senate Chair Janet Bezner said that when the Provost spoke at the Council of Academic Deans meeting Nov. 10, he made a point to say that they would be clarifying the situation surrounding commencement in an upcoming town hall taking place Nov. 23.
Bezner noted that the town hall may present discussion surrounding a recent spike in COVID-19 cases being reported at the university and in Hays County.
“This has led me to believe that if the case rates continue to go high or increase that [the Provost has] opened the door for considering the decision of not having [commencement],” Bezner said.
Supancic says the final decision on the amount of staff required to attend depends on what the university decides to do in terms of general staffing of the venue, as well as how students will be checked in and seated.
“I think they’re going to try to fill in as much as they can with stadium staff, or they’re going to outsource. If they had a large contingency of workers to seat the students and check them in, I think it would reduce the number of required staff that would have to attend," Supancic said.