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UI Faculty Council discuss changes to faculty dispute procedures

BY STACEY MURRAY | NOVEMBER 14, 2012 6:30 AM

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The University of Iowa Faculty Council met Tuesday to discuss changes to the faculty-dispute procedures policy and postponed the vote following inconclusive discussion.

The council will vote via email within the next few weeks after receiving a revised copy of the policy from Maria Lukas of the General Counsel’s Office.

Controversy on the revised policy followed discussion to make the policy compliant with Title IX  — an education amendment that prevents discrimination based on sex.

The Faculty Council members discussed contentious pieces of the policy, including the idea of separating Title IX from the disputes policy to prevent unnecessary regulations on disputes — such as a mandatory 60-day resolution.

“Changes that have been made that affect all grievances may not be as useful,” said history Professor Katherine Tachau.

Along with these changes, each party in the dispute would be allowed equal rights — something that wasn’t previously allowed.

In the current policy, the alleged victim doesn’t have the right to present witnesses and to cross-examine witnesses.  The two parties will each have a table at the investigation with a chance to speak and present testimony.

The current wording excludes research faculty and denies them a panel of peers in the case of a dispute — something that didn’t sit well with all members of the council, and they pushed to have it on the list of changes to be made to the policy.

With a judicial panel formed from faculty members, the pool of possible panelists would have to be faculty members who are available yearlong — something the council members believed would keep variety out of the candidates.

“In trying to make your panel broader, you’re going to lose more faculty than you’ll gain,” Tachau said.

But even with a narrower field, Lukas said, the office needs panelists available year-round in case of several simultaneous disputes.

“The problem you have is that [disputes] come in through the entire 12 months, but we need to have people throughout the way,” she said.

In order to incorporate Title IX provisions, mediation would be eliminated from dispute settlements along with the standard proof language changing from “clear and convincing” to “by the preponderance,” another change that council members weren’t comfortable with.

“ ‘Clear and convincing’ is a high standard of proof, and I assume we adopted that for a reason,” law Professor Christina Bohannan said. “To drop that preponderance is a big change in that view.”

But despite several disagreements, the inclusion of Title IX with other faculty disputes kept the council from voting on the newest alterations.

“I think what’s controversial right now is this sense that there are these non-Title IX cases that are being drug along with Title IX,” Bohannan said. “I think that people will wonder if that’s the right thing to do, given that it’s not strictly required.”


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