Texas State's Staff Council voted to submit a recommendation for staff ombudsman services in order to provide a private advocate for staff and advisors at its meeting on May 11. The council also provided updated weather protocols for upcoming commencement ceremonies.
Staff Council approved a recommendation by the salary setting review subcommittee to propose a staff ombudsperson who has knowledge of university policies and procedures. The recommendation states the staff member selected will receive a stipend for the position.
The subcommittee suggested this proposal due to the current employee grievance policy which leads to awkwardness and a lack of privacy for staff when dealing with grievances.
Having a staff ombudsperson to talk to will allow employees to discuss grievances privately, rather than with supervisors. In the meeting, a Staff Council member says discussing potentially private matters with supervisors can actually lead to the problems, rather than resolve them.
"We discussed in our group, you know, what those [private matters] are, particularly related to dealing with salary concerns, you know, other equity issues like that. But it can extend to a number of staff concerns that they might have, and some people may not want to bring that to their supervisor," the Staff Council member says. "They may want it to remain confidential. Their situation may involve their supervisor which would put them in a difficult position."
Because of these concerns, in addition to heavy research done by the subcommittee on how to best solve this issue, a staff ombudsperson was suggested.
"We do a little bit of benchmarking and, by and large, institutions either have staff, student and faculty ombuds services, or an office that deals with all three," the Staff Council member says. "But, generally speaking, everyone should have ombuds services available to them, because they provide sort of a second arm to dealing with employee concerns."
Staff Council's commencement planning workgroup announced that if inclement weather occurs on the days of commencement, ceremonies will be moved to Strahan Coliseum and the number of invited guests allowed will be reduced from seven guests per student to two.
Texas State President Denise Trauth briefly spoke to council members, thanking them for their work during the past semester. She then provided updates to questions regarding the transition to in-person classes in the fall.
"It is time to give our students the experiences that they expect from Texas State, and those are, you know, personal experiences," Trauth says. "They, our students, want to see us in person. They're grateful for everything that the faculty and staff did for them remotely, but they want to see us in person."
Despite a majority of summer classes remaining virtual, Trauth says staff members have to resume their campus roles in person this summer since the decision about the format of the summer semester was made in February.
Trauth also addressed staff salary bonuses and says the potential for the bonuses to become permanent raises would be dependent on enrollment percentages in future semesters.
The salary setting review subcommittee has examined internal policies, procedures and external laws that have some bearing on what could impact or benefit staff salaries. The subcommittee co-chair says after reviewing and gathering background information needed to make salary recommendations, the subcommittee hopes to present the best methods for supporting the entire staff by summer.
"Now we can refine what our concerns are, what our recommendations are going to be and how we're going to go about them. So, that's the step that we're in now. We're still fine-tuning," the co-chair says. "We realized that maybe there's nothing we can do about certain things, so we're working on putting together a list of recommendations and action items to achieve those for y'all."
Staff Council will vote on staff awards beginning May 12 when the nomination period opens. Fellow staff members are suggested to provided letters of recommendation when voting on their nominee.