“Functions of the Senate”: Parallel Texts with Commentary (25 November 2010)

Email from Mark Jones to Marjorie Jean Stairs, Chair, Senate Operations Review Committee (SORC), 25 November 2010:

Dear Dr. Stairs:

As promised in Senate today, I write you regarding SORC’s Notice of Motion re “Functions of the Senate” (item III.5.b in the 25 Nov. 2010 Senate Agenda). I am copying this to all members of Senate for whom I have an email address and will post it on the Senate Faculty Caucus blog, in hopes of advancing discussion of this issue.

I send you a point-by-point comparison between SORC’s proposed revision and the original “Functions of the Senate” document (1982), together with some basic observations on the differences.

Functions of Senate (digested revisions)

I am admittedly no legal scholar, but the revision proposed by SORC appears to me to entail some serious degradations of the powers and responsibilities of Senate. Given both the fundamental importance of the “Functions of the Senate” to Senate’s operations, and the fundamental importance of Senate itself to the University, I was surprised that SORC should propose such an extensive revision of this foundational document without furnishing a point-by-point comparison or, indeed, any statement of rationale for its various proposed changes. Such aids are especially wanted given that SORC’s proposed revision is not itself remotely in parallel with the 1982 document; they are difficult to compare in the form in which they are presented by SORC.

As an example of the kind of treatment I have in mind, I cite SORC’s other notice of motion from the same Senate Agenda, concerning “Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of Senate” (Agenda, 25 Nov., item III.5.a). The amendments proposed there are, in comparison, both trivial and simple, and yet they are helpfully presented in graphic parallel:

If SORC should agree that such treatment of the “Functions of the Senate” document would advance the purposes of discussion, it would of course be welcome to use anything it may find in my attached document. But I also hope that it might explicitly state the rationales for the various revisions for which it seeks approval.


Mark Jones

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