Author Topic: UND SComm student hiring representation  (Read 3110 times)

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Offline Sal Atticum

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UND SComm student hiring representation
« on: April 09, 2008, 09:27:47 am »
I've been following this story for a couple days now just to see if I can get things straight.  The short version is that SComm decided to hire four new faculty and built a search committee of current faculty from SComm and UND and people from the GFK community.  Students asked to be on the committee and were denied, but kept trying to be involved in the process.  These students (who, before people jump down my throat, do not represent all students in SComm, yadda yadda yadda) are making a case that what little input they had was marginalized and that the procedures followed by the committee were not appropriate.

Please read the material and make your own decision.  If there are things I've missed, please post them (and I can move them into chronological order).

Disclosure:  I'm on the side of the students making the complaint--I think students need more representation and should be taken more seriously.  What incoming candidates say to students an what they say to current faculty are often interpreted differently, especially at a school where the administration pushes research over teaching so much.  This being said, I will try to report what happens as accurately and in as unbiased a manner as possible and to offset my own opinions so that they are understood as such.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2008, 09:38:28 am by Sal Atticum »
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Offline Sal Atticum

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Re: UND SComm student hiring representation
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2008, 09:28:00 am »
Letter to the Dakota Student, 04 April, 2008
Quote
Letter: No communication at School of Comm.
By: School of Communication
Posted: 4/4/08
Dear Editor,

This academic year the decision was made to hire four new faculty members into the School of Communication. Just like in many other cases, a committee was created to review candidates and recommend those worthy candidates onto the Dean of Arts and Sciences Martha Potvin.

Dean Potvin then would make the final decision on who should be hired based on the findings of the committee. The committee was created by Dean Potvin and comprised of tenure eligible members of the School of Communication faculty and faculty from other departments on campus.

The committee also had one person from outside of University to help in the search. The one thing lacking from the committee was students. Students in the School of Communication did have the opportunity to meet the candidates during the search, but in the end the student efforts and reviews made up a very small portion of what was written in the search committee's recommendation letter to Dean Potvin.

After reviewing several documents that were released under the provisions of North Dakota Century Code Sections 44-04-17.1 through 44-04-31, the only points that were made on behalf of students could be summarized in three sections.

One candidate "enjoys strong student support." Another candidate received a comment that stated, "In the comment sheets, students seemed to find him a little aloof" and in another comment sheet for another candidate showed "student concerns about his manner - and many critiqued his presentation style."

There were very broad statements that could have been in consideration of students, but they revolved around which candidates could teach specific classes. None indicated which candidate would teach those courses the best.

Some members of the committee did a very good job taking into consideration what the students' needs were, but others did not. Their main concern was with research and having the new faculty member be published (written academic pieces).

When students showed interest and showed up to the committee meeting in which the recommendations would be made, some members of the committee felt "considerable reluctance to offer criticism in public forum."

The committee then decided that comments related to candidate weaknesses should be sent via e-mail to the co-chairs and the information would be used anonymously in the report sent to Dean Potvin. The comments that were made about candidates' weaknesses were meant to be kept secret from the people who showed up to the meeting.

Because the information was not shared during the meeting, no one on the committee had the opportunity to discuss weaknesses of candidates. The most frightening fact about this is that one member of the committee (a School of Communication faculty member) stated, "You are not to share my name in any way with anyone on the evaluation provided. I am volunteering honest opinions that can be held against me by those less ethical than yourselves. If you have no intention of using my comments in secrecy, then I instruct you to discard them."

This quote was part of the contents of an e-mail sent to the co-chairs in regards to candidates weaknesses. The e-mail was released under the provisions of North Dakota Century Code Sections 44-04-17.1 through 44-04-31 (North Dakota Open Meetings, Open Records). As a student in the School of Communication I am deeply concerned that my interests have not been taken into account while choosing or hiring new faculty. It disappoints me that members of the committee that are appointed to help serve me as well as the University and School of Communication, are not honest in front of students during meetings. It also concerns me that there were no students (from any department) placed on the Selection Committee. In almost every facet of the University, students are involved on committees to decide everything from hiring the new President-elect Kelly to researching the move to Division I athletics and even the Library Committee. It saddens me that I have to write this letter because I truly believe that there are faculty members in the School of Communication that care and benefit the students. I have gotten a great education in the School of Communication, but some of the processes have not been created to benefit the students. Two years after students walked out of classrooms in the School of Communication in protest, students are asking to be heard again. Sincerely,

Jackie DeMolee-SR., Comm
Anna Austin-Sr., Comm
Andrew Scott-Jr., Comm
Courtney Olson-Jr., Comm
Anita Herold-Grad., Comm
Shelle Michaels-Grad., Comm
Jeff Flannigan-Soph., Pre-Comm
Kaitlin Gudz-Sr., Comm
Amanda Piesik-Sr., Comm
Michael Tanner- Class '07
Chris Gessele- Class '07
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Offline Sal Atticum

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Re: UND SComm student hiring representation
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2008, 09:28:17 am »
Letter to the Grand Forks Herald, 06 April 2008
Quote
Much Ado About Nothing
Grand Forks Herald
Published Sunday, April 06, 2008
In recent days, UND’s School of Communication has been visible again in the local media, unfortunately again not in a good way. A Grand Forks Herald article from Wednesday April 2 reads, “Comm students said they did not have a voice in faculty hires,” and another Grand Forks Herald article from Thursday April 3 announces, “Communication students organize demonstration.” While both articles quote one single undergraduate student, their titles and part of their content gives the impression that the majority of School of Communication students share the same opinion about the matter discussed. We are writing this letter to let the UND and Grand Forks community know that many School of Communication students believe that the search committee in charge of making recommendations for the selection of new SComm faculty was really a campus-community cross-disciplinary “dream team,” and that students had plenty of opportunities to speak up about the faculty hires.

The April 2 Herald article contends that the committee that fielded candidates for the four positions “included all current School of Communication tenured and tenure-track faculty but included no student members.” To somebody who reads this article without knowing in advance how many members this committee comprised, and what they represented, it might seem that the school’s faculty body was suspiciously overrepresented. Especially after reading again, towards the end of the article, that Arts and Sciences Dean Martha Potvin – who composed the committee – did not include students because the committee had already grown too large with faculty, and that she “thought it was important that all faculty members serve on the committee” “because of strong views held by many communication faculty.” To somebody who reads the article not knowing in advance what was going on, a UND senior’s statement that “faculty are intentionally trying to keep things away from students” might make some sense.

However convincing it may appear, the information contained in the April 2 Herald article is misleading. The committee indeed included all eight tenured and tenure-track SComm faculty members, but it also benefited from the participation of six faculty members from around campus – which the article does not mention at all – and of Grand Forks Herald’s very own Editor and Publisher – which the article mentions briefly once. The six faculty members from outside SComm who served on this committee (Dr. James Mochruk, Associate Professor, History; Dr. Birgit Hans, Department Chair and Professor, Indian Studies; Dr. Eric Wolfe, Graduate Director, English; Dr. William Lesch, Department Chair and Professor, Marketing; Dr. Cheryl Terrance, Associate Professor, Psychology; and Dr. Thomasine Heitkamp, Department Chair and Professor, Social Work) are among the most respected administrators, instructors and scholars on campus, and their credibility is beyond suspicion. Mike Jacobs, the Editor and Publisher of the Herald, is one of the most notable community members locally. The committee was not led by SComm faculty but co-chaired by James Mochruch and Mike Jacobs. Since October 2007, when the committee was composed and started discussions, numerous faculty and students from SComm and around campus, and even some community members have expressed satisfaction for such a strong search team – really a “dream team!”

Moreover, UND students, especially SComm students, have been strongly encouraged by administrators, faculty, staff, and their peers, to speak up about the search process and the candidates. Between October 2007 and January 2008, representatives and members of the School’s undergraduate and graduate student associations received continuous updates about the composition of the committee and the state of the search. In November 2007 at the annual convention of the National Communication Association, graduate students stood by the school’s faculty to promote the open positions and to attract strong candidates. Between mid January and end of February, each of the candidates who visited the School had an opportunity to have lunch and discuss with undergraduate students, and another occasion to meet and eat with graduate students, who then passed opinions to their advisors and instructors, and also wrote down their opinions for the search committee. Several faculty members and gra duate students made efforts to inform the undergraduate students about the candidates’ lectures and class presentations, and even gave extra credit to undergraduate students who attended these. For over a month, the resumes of the candidates sat on a table in SComm’s main office for anybody to consult. When asked about this, many students say – and have affirmed in meetings – that they did not think a student should have been on the search committee, and that they are pleased that students have been asked for their input. To clarify even further, since the communication between people involved in the search (of which SComm faculty were just a part) and students was abundant, and since many members of the search committee were external evaluators beyond any doubt, one could ask why these students who are now expressing discontent that they were not represented did not state their concerns back in October or November, or sometime during the search process. Where have they been?

Why didn’t they speak?

The April 3 Herald article quotes Jackie DeMolee, the same senior UND communication major who had been quoted in the previous day’s article, saying that “This is just something we want to be heard about.” We also consider that this is something we need to talk about: that the search committee for the SComm new faculty, a team not composed just of SComm faculty but actually with community and cross-campus contributions, was a “dream team,” and that at this committee’s recommendations the Arts and Sciences Dean has made offers to the most outstanding candidates, two of which will join the School in the fall if we don’t shy them away with misleading data and inflamed protests. These new faculty members might be SComm’s chance to shine again in terms of teaching, research, and service. Please, let’s not spoil this chance!

P.S. The Grand Forks Herald articles we have quoted above mentioned that Friday’s Dakota Student will publish a letter from several undergraduate and graduate students expressing concerns about the new faculty hires. That article, signed by seven undergraduate students, two SComm graduates, and two graduate students, with Jackie DeMolee at the top of the list, is now out in the public. The letter focuses on the lack of a student representative in the committee, but does not explain the extensive credentials of the campus and community people involved in the search. The letter complains that SComm students’ reviews made up just a small portion of the recommendations sent to the Dean of Arts and Sciences, but does not specify that SComm faculty’s comments made up just a portion of those recommendations as well. The letter acknowledges that the students had opportunities to interact with the candidates and were invited to search committee meetings, but contends that this was j ust not enough since there wasn’t an official student representative on the committee. Yet, the nine students who signed that letter were among those who helped organize the coming of the candidates and even hosted some of the events, so they were well informed about and had a say in the development of the search. Should have they expressed about six months ago their desire to be represented and their concerns to the Arts and Sciences Dean Martha Potvin and the two chairs of the committee (who, as a reminder, are James Mochruch and Mike Jacobs), they would not be protesting right now.

Diana Nastasia, Graduate Student, Communication
Adonica Schultz Aune, Graduate Student, Communication
Sorin Nastasia, Graduate Student, Communication
Leslie Helgeson, Graduate Student, Communication
Yuliya Kartoshkina, Graduate Student, Communication
Michaela Schmidt, Graduate Student, Communication
Louella Lofranco, Graduate Student, Communication
Rule Allah s. Hiuallah-Messiah, Graduate Student, Communication
Ana Moraru, Undergaduate Student, Communication Major
Valica Boudry, SComm Graduate; Assistant Professor, Bemidji State University
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Offline Sal Atticum

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Re: UND SComm student hiring representation
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2008, 09:28:34 am »
Letter to the Grand Forks Herald, 07 April 2008
Quote
LETTER: No taxation without representation: A response to 'Much ado about nothing'
Anita L. Herold,
Published Monday, April 07, 2008
After reading the letter to the editor on April 06, 2008 called "Much ado about nothing," I felt compelled to respond. The all American cry of "no taxation without representation" immediately sprang to mind as I worked my way through this letter. I apologize ahead of time that this letter is long, but felt that correcting misconceptions and addressing falseness was more important than brevity.

The "much ado" letter of April 6th, 2008 begins by discussing the headlines of the articles and stating that not all students in the School of Communication agree with our position articulated in a letter published on April 2nd, 2008, that I signed along with others. My gut reaction is, so? We are not responsible for what a reporter writes as a headline, and they are not going to interview approximately 350 undergraduate students and 42 graduate students, to determine the exact percentage of agreement. More importantly, we know that not everyone agrees with us, we never stated there was a consensus of all communication students, the letter was our opinion.

The "much ado" letter continues to say that the committee was comprised of many people who are not faculty in the School of Communication, indicating that they are above reproach, and that students weren't on it due to the large size of the committee as stated by Dr. Martha Potvin, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences in the faculty meeting of April 1st, 2008. These statements do not negate that there were no students on the committee, which was the complaint of the original letter. Moreover, we never impugned the character or the credentials of any committee member, particularly those from outside the School of Communication. The assertion that we said or implied this is absurd.

The "much ado" letter states "moreover, UND students, especially SComm students, have been strongly encouraged by administrators, faculty, staff, and their peers, to speak up about the search process and the candidates." Stating that the administrators, search committee, faculty, or staff did this is untrue and misleading. As students, we were never invited to the meetings; in fact, they were not even posted, so far as I know. Had faculty members not told me specifically, on a late October, Thursday afternoon, that the committee was meeting at 8:00 a.m. on Monday morning, I would not have known, even though I am the graduate student representative to the faculty. I turned around and notified as many graduate students as I could find on the following Friday about the meeting and I (a peer, not a member of the committee) encouraged them to go. Shelle Michaels (another graduate student) then did her best to notify undergraduate students about the meetings. Whenever meetings were changed or cancelled there were no public notices or e-mails put out for students or others. I believe the committee members themselves received e-mails, which could be verified through an open records request, although I have not done this. At least once, however, I spoke with an outside member of the committee (Dr. Terrance, Psychology) who did not know that a meeting time had been changed to a Wednesday afternoon, so I am not altogether sure this is correct.

Their letter continues by stating that from "October 2007 to January 2008, representatives and members of the School's undergraduate and graduate associations received continuous updates about the composition of the committee and the state of the search." This statement is inherently false. The School of Communication Student Council (SCSC; which is the undergraduate council), was not even formed and active in October. Ironically, this can be verified by looking at the School of Communication Graduate Student Association (GSA) meeting minutes of November 1st, where I reported to the GSA that undergraduate students were working on writing a constitution and forming their group. The SCSC elections were held on November 8th, 2007 with the first full meeting not being held until December. As for informing the GSA, I never received any information from the committee, what little I did know was from attending the meetings I could and had found out about. Additionally, the GSA minutes from the October 4th meeting show a report by Shelle Michaels and me, that there are meetings happening and I encouraged students to attend if they could. We were never notified as to the first meetings of the committee, which occurred before this time, nor did we ever receive a report or minutes from the search committee. This does not constitute the "continuous updates" by the committee that is suggested in the April 6th letter.

The "much ado" letter also states that between mid January and the end of February the students had opportunities to have lunch and discussions with the candidates, and they could then pass on their opinions to "their advisors and instructors, and also wrote down their opinions for the search committee." I have basically two responses to this. One, it is a poor substitute for not being represented on the committee; on the committee you may speak and usually have a vote. Two, the only type of feedback was a feedback form that I created at the request of Dr. Kalbfleisch, the Director of the School of Communication, who was concerned that the students had no mechanism for giving the committee feedback. This was never something the committee did to hear from students. In fact, co-chair, history professor Dr. Jim Mochoruk, asked me what the plan for them was and where they came from. I explained this to him, and he asked that I give him the copies for the committee, but this was after they were already being used. I can't remember exactly when or why, but I was later asked to give the copies to Brenda Schill in the Dean's office instead. As the search committee's secretary she would keep them for the committee. I delivered copies of the forms for all the candidates to the Dean's office by hand; many times handing them to Brenda personally.

The "much ado" letter then discussed student involvement in the classroom sessions specifically, but here again they mislead the reader. They state that "several faculty members and graduate students made efforts to inform the undergraduate students about the candidates' lectures and class presentations, and even gave extra credit to undergraduate students who attended these." What they omit from their letter is that Comm 110 (public speaking) instructors were told they were required to sign their Comm 110 classes up for two time slots and make their students attend. There were some serious concerns stated by some Comm 110 instructors about the appropriateness of doing this (me being one of them), but the Basic Course (Comm 110) Director Mary Haslerud Opp told us we were required, because she had been told she was required to do it as a compromise to the candidates coming into our classrooms, which would have been disruptive to teaching. To make up for this forced participation some instructor's did offer extra credit to their students. But the assertion it was a broad sweeping invitation to attend is false. The requirement of signing up the public speaking courses (Comm 110) actually further exacerbates the issue at hand, because many students in Comm 110 are not, in fact, Communication students. Good examples of this are my own classes. I teach two sections of Comm 110 and I do not have a single student who is a Communication major or minor in either class. Therefore, we forced non-Communication students to attend but failed to make room and encourage Communication students to do so.

The letter also states "for over a month, the resumes of the candidates sat on a table in SComm's main office for anybody to consult." This is true, but it was due to the actions of graduate students such as me that they were received and we spread word they were there, not faculty or the committee. I personally, went over to the Dean's Office in person, and made a request of Brenda Schill to have them. She said she would send them to the School of Communication office. We waited for a couple of days and did not receive them, so I asked our Administrative Assistant, Joyce Muz if she had seen them. She said no, and called Brenda to ask about them. Brenda said she had sent them over, but since the first set had disappeared (an altogether too common occurrence in our department) she would send another set, which she did. Another copy was made and Shelle Michaels (a graduate student) used that set to post the vitae on the distinguished guest board in the hallway. She also tried to let undergraduate students know about them, while the others remained available in the main Communication office.

"Much ado" then continues by saying "many students affirmed in meetings they did not think a student should have been on the search committee and are happy they were asked for input." My initial reaction whenever anyone says this is "how many is many? Who are they?" We have been transparent in our information and provided the paperwork to back us up, not written innuendos and murky facts. I also wonder what "meetings" this refers to, as only one person (Yuliya Kartoshkina) signing their letter has attended a GSA meeting this semester (as can be verified from meeting minutes), none of them have attended either a search committee meeting or an SCSC meeting, and none of them have attended any faculty meeting all year. I know this because I have attended all of these things. At the April 1st faculty meeting, it is true one graduate student (not one who signed their letter) voiced his opinion that he was well represented because the graduate students have a representative he could have gone to. It should be noted that he approached me in the hallway the very next day (Wednesday, April 2nd ; the day of the publication of the original letter) and apologized, saying he had not understood what the concern of the undergraduates had been about, and he did not know that I (the elected representative to the faculty) was not on the committee either. The writers of much ado have a lot of 2nd hand "information," while I was personally in attendance to these events.

The next question asked by the "much ado" letter is why nothing was said before now. Part of the answer is because the students, in good faith, believed their feedback would be considered. It was not until the final meeting of the search committee, and the committee recommendations to Dean Potvin were received that they discovered their input was being basically tossed aside. During the meeting only a few members of the committee had even read through the forms and only a couple seem to care anything about what students had written; one (Dr. Thomasine Heitkamp, Professor Social Work) concerned herself enough with the comments of the students to the extent that she repeatedly stated what students had said, another (Dr. Kalbfleisch) who was concerned was too upset over what was transpiring to speak. During the discussion, the notations concerning one candidate were denigrated with the comment that the graduate students "must have misunderstood." This was also supported in the recommendation to the Dean when it states the concerns were "perhaps not quite fair?" indicating that although stated by multiple graduate students it could easily be discarded. I was at the luncheon in question and suggest it is very difficult to misunderstand the statement "I don't really want to teach."

Additionally, the protest (not an inflamed one) is also about the Dean refusing to name the candidates to whom she extended offers. She continued to say at the faculty meeting April 1st, where she was a guest that she would "prefer not to say" alluding to the dissention in the department as part of the reason. She did name two people who declined invitations, and two people to whom offers had been extended and oral agreements had been given, but did not name the other candidate offers she indicated she had extended. As our letter of April 2nd states student representatives have been on many committees including the library committee, and the Presidential Search committee. Most applicable to the situation here, is the Presidential search, where this information was published in the newspaper, even though there was dissention about Dr. Robert Kelly's offer. This is one reason we suggested that information was being kept from students. A quick call to the North Dakota Attorney General's office confirmed my suspicion that this information is public information because university employees are state employees. We could insist that Dean Potvin provide the information through an open records request, but that really isn't our point. The point is that students did not have a voice, they could not speak at a meeting unless acknowledged by the chair because they weren't on the committee, the feedback forms were given short shrift both in committee meetings and in the forwarded recommendation. This is particularly true for undergraduate students who have less access and perhaps are more intimidated by approaching faculty members. Nothing offered in "much ado" actually negates what Ms. DeMolee has said.

Next, "much ado" agrees with us that this is "something we need to talk about." They then go on to suggest that as far as the candidates are concerned, we may "shy them away with misleading data and inflamed protests." I would reiterate that we have provided the proof of what we state and have actually attended the meetings and done the work discussed in our letter, while theirs is second-hand innuendo. Some students want to sit in the quad and discuss student representation throughout not just the School of Communication, but across the University with other students. Hardly, "inflamed protests."

I also do not see this desire to open communication as a negative to current or incoming faculty. If is it, does this mean we are going to continue to perpetuate the problems in the School of Communication by hiring only people who do not care about students, their voice, and their opinions? To date, only a few faculty members have supported students and their voices publicly; Dr. Kalbfleisch, Dr. Holden, and Dr. Lowman continually encourage student participation. Dr.s Dumova and Horosewski also, on occasion, express support for students.

Dr. Richard Shafer often states that he is all for "freedom of speech" and yet, he approached Ms. DeMolee in the School of Communication main office on Thursday afternoon (April 3, 2008) to discuss her comments at the faculty meeting on April 1st. This can be seen as an intimidation tactic as he is faculty, she an undergraduate student. Moreover, he expressed his doubts to her about the legality or having students on search committees; Dr. Holden, who had arrived to overhear this, state that he knew full well it was legal. Dr. Shafer also stated that he did not know of a single student in the "last twelve and a half years" that had served on search committees. Then he really isn't paying attention, as I myself served on the search committee which hired Dr. Householder, and I know other students have served on these committees as well. Dr. Kalbfleisch, has in fact, placed students on all search committees, and other committees, since she has been here. The School of Communication Policy, Procedure, and Information manual indicates it is desirable for students to be on committees and in fact states "Committees shall regularly seek student advice and recommendations, especially from the various student organizations" (Operating Paper, page 2, Part IV. Committees, Article I. Standing Committees.) Additionally, the third page of the manual clearly shows that students are assigned or will be assigned at the beginning of the school year to the standing committees, but by precedent they also serve on other committees such as search committees.

In the post script (although I don't believe it is really a post script as the letter is not ended) the "much ado" letter makes a statement that the original letter will be out on Friday, that Ms. DeMolee's name is at the top of the list of names, and enumerates how many of what types of students signed it. My response once again is so? When Mr. Marks (Herald reporter) spoke to Ms. DeMolee, she mentioned that the letter was going to be published in the Dakota Student (DS) on Friday. The letter was originally supposed to be in Tuesday's DS, but did not make it to print for whatever reason. The staff at the DS informed Ms. DeMolee it would be in Friday's paper. Additionally, there was discussion at the SCSC meeting and several individuals at the meeting decided to sign the letter. Ms. DeMolee's name is at the top of the list because when you compose a letter you sign it first.

"Much ado" again asserts that the original letter of April 2nd focuses on the lack of a student representation, but does not address the credentials of the committee members. Yes, that is true. It is true because as I already stated we did not impugn the credentials of, nor suggest an inappropriateness of, any committee member; it is also true because it is the lack of representation acknowledged by "much ado" that is concerning the students who signed the letter. "Much ado" also asserts that the even if the students input was a small portion, that the "Scomm faculty's comments made up just a portion of those recommendations as well." One, that isn't the point of the discussion; and two, the comments from the SComm faculty actually made up 6 1⁄2 out of 8 pages of the candidate's weakness' in the recommendation. Only one outside member sent an e-mail to the co-chairs. Six and a half out of eight? This certainly seems like a majority rather than a "small portion." You do not have to take my word for it; anyone may make an open records request of the committee chairs, if desired. I believe that Mr. Marks has copies of this report as well.

More importantly is how did this expression of opinions come to be done by e-mail? During the final search committee meeting, Dr. Rakow stated that she "could not be honest in this forum." A sentiment confirmed by Dr. Mochoruk's note in the recommendation to the Dean that "because there was considerable reluctance to offer criticisms in the public forum of the Search Committee meeting, the expedient of sending in comments on weaknesses by e-mail was adopted." He later states "we are appending these comments (without attribution, as several people asked for anonymity) as is – from individuals." This concerns me on so many levels. First, if you are being honest and fair, why can't you say what you think? Second, that Dr. Fiordo instructed his e-mail to be destroyed if he could not be kept anonymous is ill-informed. The faculty should already know that they cannot be "anonymous" in an open meeting, or with anything having to do with an open meeting, particularly where it relates to the hiring of state employees. This is an issue discussed in Communication, quite frequently, and was a topic during Communicators' Days. Third, I am concerned that by forwarding faculty comments to the Dean without attribution the validity/credibility of the comment cannot be judged accurately.

"Much ado" continues by stating that the nine students who signed the April 2nd letter (our original letter) "helped organize the coming of the candidates and even hosted some of the events, so they were well informed about and had a say in the development of the search." This is completely false. No students helped to organize anything. The committee came up with the schedule, they came up with the times and places of the luncheons and meetings. Students were simply told when to be where. I would be interested to know which students "hosted" what events. If they are talking about me, since I was at every single event, I was asked (once again by Dr. Kalbfleisch, not the committee) to make sure that the feedback forms were at every event. This does not make me a hostess for the event. Mama Maria's provided the food for the luncheons, and it is owned and operated by a student, but that does not make him a host. Who are they referring to? They should not be allowed to make these insinuations without proof or at least facts about what they are claiming.

"Much ado" closes their letter by reiterating their question of why nothing has been protested until now. I have already answered that, so would now like to make a comment of my own based on who signed their letter, and the extent of my own participation in the process. First, I would mention the majority of signatures on "much ado" are graduate students, who have a wholly different relationship with the faculty than undergraduate students do. Many (but not all) of us have offices in the School; work directly under, and with faculty; and have graduate committees composed of faculty. Undergraduate students do not. They have one as an advisor, and some others as professors, depending on the classes they are in. The first letter and the protest are specifically from undergraduate students to address the lack of undergraduate voice.

Even as a graduate student, I support that. It also however, extends to the graduate students who usually have a voice, but did not in this case. I would also point out, that a few weeks ago, that a concern about the lack of student representation was voiced by university Student Government in an article in the Dakota Student. This shows the concern is not just a School of Communication concern, but rather it is a University-wide concern. I would also point out that even with just this search committee, it was not just School of Communication we are talking about. The committee was not formed by Dr. Kalbfleisch the Director, but rather it was Dean Potvin who suspended the School of Communication's search committee procedures and failed to ensure there would be student representatives on the search committee.

Moreover, a very large quantity of the information relayed to students was due to my personal efforts to track it down and attend meetings. I was joined in this pursuit by Shelle Michaels who tried her best to keep the undergraduates informed. As students, this is not really our job. As president of the GSA, I do represent the graduate students and perhaps have some responsibility, but there is a major difference in passing along information readily available and trying to discern what is going on, what information is out there, what is true and what is gossip, and attempting to pass that on. No student should be put in that position by their university.

Sincerely,

Anita L. Herold, Graduate Student

School of Communication
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Offline Sal Atticum

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Re: UND SComm student hiring representation
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2008, 09:28:51 am »
Letter to the Grand Forks Herald, 08 April 2008
Quote
Whose Representation?
Grand Forks Herald
Published Tuesday, April 08, 2008
We begin this letter – the last one we will address, since we consider that we have made our opinion heard, and that people around UND and the local community have got a chance to look at the different views – by stating that we have not intended to engage in a dispute, but that we have aimed to provide some reasoned discourse. Several people who have signed our first letter, and several others who agree with us but did not sign that letter, specified that they are reluctant to be involved in a "we said, they said" type of exchange. We have let the media know that we are providing arguments that have been disregarded rather than making statements in opposition to another party. We are concerned that the last article published in the Herald about the School of Communication is entitled "war of words," as much as we are concerned that one of the protesters against the faculty search committee responds with a "gut reaction" letter.

There can be pages and pages of anecdotal information about what happened in each of the committee meetings, and what student did what or said what to whom, and who does what at the School of Communication or outside of it, but that will not change the principles of the things: 1. that the committee was absolutely outstanding, and the lack of one student representative does not throw a suspicion over the works of the committee (some would say on the contrary – taking into account how fragmented students' opinions are, who would that one single representative have been?); and 2. that the protests are pointless since the protesters did not state that they wanted a student representative over six months ago, when the committee was formed (the contention "the students, in good faith, believed their feedback would be considered" is flawed, because the protesters are complaining that there was no student representative in the committee – which they knew then as much as they do now – and not that students' ideas were not enough valued by committee members – which, if true, they could not have foreseen).

Grand Forks Herald's reporter Joe Marks summarized in an email the points made by the protesters as such: 1. some students are upset that the hiring committee didn't include a student member as other faculty hiring committees on campus typically do; and 2. those students see a correlation between the lack of student membership on the hiring committee and the lack of communication in general that led to the walkout two years ago. It should be stated that those who affirm that faculty hiring committees at UND typically include a student member have not done their research well. There are three ways of making up faculty search committees at UND, none of them prevalent: a) no student representative, but 4-5 faculty and administrators; b) a student non-voting representative, with 4-5 voting faculty and administrators; and c) a student voting representative, with 3-4 voting faculty and administrators. The protesters cite the presidential search committee and the Division I committee that include student members, but those are not faculty search committees but special university committees. Actually, Dean Potvin chose a regular way of making up faculty search committees (what was extraordinary with this committee was the presence of other campus and community members, not the lack of a student member). It should also be stated, again, that those who associate the lack of a student representative on this committee with the lack of communication at the School of Communication disregard that the composition of the committee was not decided by SComm faculty but by Dean Potvin, and that the committee included a mixture of campus-community members.

There is another issue. The protesters against this faculty search committee seem to take pride in democratic values such as representativity, as well as in their involvement with SComm's organizations. Are these several protesters who signed Friday's Dakota Student letter and the one protester who signed today's online Herald letter speaking as representatives of student organizations or in their personal name? If they are speaking as representatives of student organizations, they are breaking the very rules of representativity that they are invoking, since they did not pass these issues through the student organizations, and did not have these issues voted in the student meetings. If they are speaking in their personal name, there are again several representativity problems. Indeed, why haven't they taken these issues to student organizations and meetings, then with their peers' consent (presuming they would get such consent) forward them to administrators and faculty bodies? Why did they go to the media and on the street? "No taxation without representation?" Where is the representation? Whose representation?

A group of students and alumni
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Offline Sal Atticum

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Re: UND SComm student hiring representation
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2008, 09:35:14 am »
Article in the Grand Forks Herald, 08 April 2008
Quote
UND demonstration calls for representation in hirings
Joseph Marks
Herald Staff Writer - 04/08/2008

A handful of UND communication students camped outside O’Kelly Hall on Monday, demonstrating against what they called the unfair exclusion of students from a recent committee charged with recommending four new faculty hires.

Only three of the demonstration’s organizers were on hand about 11 a.m. Monday, but they were joined by about 20 non-communication majors from graduate teaching assistant Anita Herold’s public speaking class.

The demonstration site was outfitted with a massive brown beanbag chair, campsite furniture and an iPod with speakers that played Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” while demonstration organizer Jackie DeMolee lectured the assembled group on the importance of student involvement.

Turnout

DeMolee said about 50 communication students passed through during the five-hour demonstration, including three full classes, two of which included mostly communication majors.

About 100 people at the demonstration signed a petition calling for student representation on all UND hiring committees, and demonstration organizers plan to present that petition to the school’s Student Senate at an upcoming meeting. Some senators plan to turn the petition into an official resolution, which UND’s Student Body President Tyrone Grandstrand, who stopped by the demonstration Monday, said he would support.

Monday’s demonstration also was a re-enactment of sorts of a communication students walkout two years ago protesting dysfunction in the department.

Letters

In a letter last week to the Dakota Student, UND’s student newspaper, a group of mostly undergraduate communication students argued that the lack of a student member on the hiring committee and a paucity of student concerns included in the committee recommendation forwarded to UND Arts and Sciences Dean Martha Potvin were evidence that there is “still no communication” in the school.

Portions of that letter printed in the Herald last week prompted a flurry of responses: first a letter from a group of mostly graduate students who argued the hiring committee was a “dream team” and students were given ample opportunity to voice their concerns; then a letter from Herold, who cast doubts on her fellow graduate students’ arguments and threw her lot in with the undergraduates; and finally, a second letter from the graduate student group, sent Monday evening, criticizing many of Herold’s points and reasserting their central claims.

All four letters are available on the Herald Web site at www.GrandForksHerald.com.

Hiring committee

The hiring committee was composed of all tenured and tenure-track communication faculty, along with six faculty members from outside the school, and was co-chaired by Herald Publisher-Editor Mike Jacobs.

Potvin said most Arts and Sciences hiring committees include a few faculty members from the department and a student member. Potvin decided to include the entire communication faculty on that school’s hiring committee, she said last week, because many faculty members have strong views and she wanted to make sure they all were involved in the process.

She said Monday that she chose not to include a student on the committee both because the committee already was quite large and because she didn’t want students to get “caught in the middle” of faculty disagreements, or to be “forced to take sides.”

Potvin said Monday she’s glad the students are voicing their concerns, but wishes the students had come to her sooner. She said much of the information contained in both sets of student letters was new to her when she read it.

Two new faculty members recommended by the committee have accepted positions so far, Potvin said, and she has offers out to two others. Student-demonstrators Monday said their criticism was reserved for the hiring process, not the faculty members on the committee or the hires they recommended.

Reach Marks at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or e-mail jmarks@gfherald.com.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2008, 09:36:10 am by Sal Atticum »
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Offline Sal Atticum

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Re: UND SComm student hiring representation
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2008, 09:35:31 am »
Article in the Dakota Student, 08 April 2008
Quote
Students say their voice wasn't heard in hiring
Four new faculty members cause concern for lack of representation
By: Theresa Rerick
Posted: 4/8/08
The School of Communication's (SCOMM) search for four new faculty members met conflict recently when students expressed their concern over a lack of student representation in the process.

Several students felt that the search committee's lack of student involvement meant disrespect to the students of the school.

Jackie DeMolee, a senior SCOMM student, expressed this concern in a letter to the editor in the April 4 edition of The Dakota Student. Several other students signed the letter as well.

DeMolee said their concern is that communication is still not happening, nearly two years after several incidents incited a student-led walkout to protest the state of the school.

"The last time students were upset and walked out was because faculty couldn't communicate with faculty and a lot of stuff was going on internally, but now it's more about student representation and communication," she said.

DeMolee added that her standards for the school were higher than what she was experiencing.

Dean's decision

Arts and Sciences Dean Martha Potvin, who oversees SCOMM at UND, said in an interview with the Grand Forks Herald last week that the search committee was already larger than the norm with its eight faculty members and two outside members.

She added that she does not regret her decision because it was important to have all tenured and tenure-track faculty members serve. As of publication, Potvin was out of town and unavailable for comment.

Pamela Kalbfleisch, director of SCOMM, said she was unable to comment on the issue until she could discuss the matter with Potvin. 

DeMolee said the dean's decision was not in the best interests of the school or its students. "I think that now it's more about representation. Faculty members didn't want to talk in front of an audience, and that really concerns me because students were the audience and students were there to listen to members of the committee," she said.

According to her, the concerned students felt that they were not informed about the committee's decisions in the hiring of new faculty members because the committee was not willing to speak in a public forum about the weaknesses of the candidates.

Students were encouraged by SCOMM faculty to attend the hiring committee's meetings, but DeMolee said that in accordance with documents she received she didn't feel that there was enough student emphasis.

"There were comment sheets that came from the events. There were many things that I, as a student, would have looked at and noted. I didn't see any of that in the report that was sent to Dean Potvin," she said.

She added that there should be no reason for the lack of student representation. "There should be communication from students to students, from students to faculty and from faculty to faculty, especially in this department," she said.

DeMolee said that it might not have been the SCOMM's bad decision, but a poor decision by Dean Potvin to not include a student representative.

Addressing the issue

In an attempt to preserve student representation at the university, DeMolee said she has talked to Student Body President Tyrone Grandstrand about the issue and what can be done in the future.

"I am going to senate soon to address this. We are asking that when there is a committee for hiring, that a student be appointed to it by the Student Body President to eliminate any bias," she said. "Then, you have someone from the outside looking in."

DeMolee, along with other students involved in the hiring committee concerns, planned to meet on Monday on the quad facing O'Kelly Hall. This demonstration, she said, would be similar in meaning to the student walkout two years before.

"We are demanding communication and respect," she said. "Just like last time students were demanding communication, we are still demanding it."

DeMolee said this is unfortunate to have happened. "UND is always very, very good about getting students represented in committees," she said. "It is too bad this had to happen in SCOMM."
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Offline Sal Atticum

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Re: UND SComm student hiring representation
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2008, 08:28:40 am »
In today's Herald.
Quote

LETTER: American Government 101
- 04/21/2008

Five rights are guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution: freedom of religion, right to free speech, the right to peaceably assemble, right to petition the Government for redress of grievances and of course freedom of the press. Four of these rights are the subject of what the writer(s) of "Whose representation" (Herald, April 8, 2008) are challenging.

The writers' of the April 8th letter write that they "have not intended to engage in a dispute, but that we have aimed to provide some reasoned discourse." Yet, a reasonable person can see engaging in dispute is exactly what they are doing. They have made unfounded accusations against the student demonstrators, suggest our discourse is unreasonable (because theirs is), use what are known as "devil terms" (e.g., opposition, protestors) to try to vilify our side, while using "god terms" (e.g., affirm, support) for their own. So the article was right; in a way this is a "war of words." Let's address their accusations and comments.

First, we are thrilled to see that they actually support what we have already said. We will therefore assume they do actually agree with us, at least in part. We stated from the beginning that there are not students on all hiring committees, a point they also make in their letter, which shows that students do lack representation. Before suggesting we are ill informed because not all UND committees have students on them, perhaps they should re-read the April 7th letter, which states specifically that there is a precedent in the School of Communication to have a student on these committees. We also stated from the beginning that this committee was put together by Dean Potvin, not Dr. Kalbfleisch, indicating the problem is not just the School of Communication, but also college-wide, and university-wide. They make the same statement, so to this point we are actually in agreement, students are not represented, and this occurs in more than just the School of Communication.

Next is the assertion that we are trying to overturn the decision of the committee and that we claim it and its decision were illegitimate. We have never asked for that, never impugned the committee members as they previously asserted, nor have we ever questioned the offers that were made to prospective faculty members. Nowhere in any of our letters, or comments will you find such a ridiculous request. We simply feel the current process and information does not reflect student representation but we believe that it should. We wish to see a change in university policy so that students are represented on all hiring committees in the future.

Now, let's go back to our discussion about the First Amendment. The writers for the differing point of view suggest that because we are representing ourselves and not councils, associations, and groups, that we have no right to speak up or protest. Not true, individuals are guaranteed the right to freedom of speech, and anyone can peaceably assemble whether or not they have talked to a group. We are all representing ourselves and the opinions are ours, which was also explained in Ms. Herold's letter of April 7th, 2008. If we had intended to represent the organizations to which we belong we would have signed the letter as their representatives. We have never said we are speaking for all students and we never insinuated that we were speaking for an organization. We have never tried to manipulate the media into thinking such. So, to the question "whose representation" the answer is simply, ourselves.

However, it is interesting to note, that while claiming we did not approach any group, Mrs. Nastasia, the first signer of the "much ado" letter of April 6th, sent a reproachful e-mail to the UND Student Senate senators (April 8th) for allowing Miss DeMolee to speak to them regarding this issue at their April 6th meeting. She asked whether this was their "regular way of handling business." She went so she could speak during "public comment." The answer is basically "yes;" any student can ask to be placed on the agenda, or can speak during public comment. More to the point here, they can't have it both ways, and actually in this case, due to our right to free speech and assembly, they can't have it just their way either. Two rights down, two to address.

Although the university is not the federal or state government it is a state run institution, overseen by and run in compliance with the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education and its budgeting issues are decided in part by the North Dakota legislature. Students have the right to grieve a process, and receive redress. Even on campus the Code of Student Life allows that students have the right to bring concerns and complaints forward. By Constitution and Code of Student Life it is our right.

The last right in question provided by the First Amendment is that of freedom of the press. The Herald may cover what issues it likes and deems newsworthy. The headline is up to the reporters and editors of the newspaper, too bad if someone does not like what they choose. Although you do still have the right to not like what they choose.

Now let's again address the issue of why now. The writers of the differing opinion keep insinuating that we have an illegitimate complaint because we knew last fall there was no student on the committee. This was also explained in Ms. Herold's letter but we shall try to explain it again. There are two important points to be made here. First, is that although Anita Herold and Shelle Michaels did their best to keep undergraduate students informed, it was not their job. This doesn't take away from the fact that the committee meetings and times were not posted anywhere, nor were the results treated as public information. Also, (with the exception of Herold and Michaels) we did not know that there wasn't a student on the committee until it was too late. Many of us were under the assumption that Herold was on the committee, just like the graduate student who attended the April 1st faculty meeting did, because she was at many of the events and kept us as informed as possible.

Second, it was after we found out that Herold was not a member of the committee that we put in an open records request to see what kind of input and information was student related. We did the investigative work to find out whether or not we felt represented in the committee. If we had felt that students were fairly represented, this wouldn't be what it has become.

As we come to a close in this letter there are a few concerns we would like to address with the letter from April 8, 2008 (Whose representation). That letter was submitted to the Herald, signed "a group of students and alumni." We feel this is an inappropriate signature for a letter to the editor. We have signed all of our letters and that has left us open to criticisms, personal attacks, and retaliation from anyone who has read these letters. We have already seen some of these consequences from signing our names, but resolve to uphold our value and integrity by continuing to do so. As we stated in our letter published in the Dakota Student, one of our concerns is that faculty members on the committee wanted to remain anonymous. We feel that by signing the letter anonymously, this group is also withholding information, and is misleading in its actions. At least one signer of their original "much ado" letter has indicated to our group that he/she was deceived as to its purpose and content of the letter. Others have indicated they were asked to sign the letter but did not do so, because they disagree with it, not because they were afraid. This makes us wonder, have they lost some of their support? Is that why the writers changed from signing their names to signing "a group of. . ." A "group" means more than one, so who is really writing and signing this letter?

We all have our biases and there are criticisms that can be made about all of us. There is no reason to remain anonymous, if what you're saying is true and you stand behind it, regardless of potential consequences.

Sincerely,

Amanda Piesik

Andrew Scott

Anita Herold

Anna Austin

Courtney Olson

Jackie DeMolee

John Fitzgerald

Shelle Michaels

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Offline Sal Atticum

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Re: UND SComm student hiring representation
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2008, 08:29:38 am »
Report on Student Senate business in the Herald.
Quote
Other business

Student senators voted for a resolution advocating for student members on all university hiring committees, at their regular meeting Sunday.

The resolution failed twice to win majority support from senators, with 10 in support, seven in opposition and three abstaining. Student Body Vice President Mike Crenshaw cast the deciding vote in support.

A group of UND School of Communication students recently protested the lack of student membership on a committee charged with hiring four new professors in that department, saying they were shut out of the process.

UND Arts and Sciences Dean Martha Potvin said she didn’t include students on that panel because she thought it was important all of the school’s full faculty members serve on it, and she didn’t want students to be forced to take sides in faculty disagreements.

The committee, co-chaired by Herald Publisher-Editor Mike Jacobs, also included faculty from outside SComm.

“We made it clear that there were multiple occasions to meet with candidates, including two formal occasions for students” Potvin said. “There was an offer not made because of student comments, so clearly, that was a part of the decision-making.”

Potvin said Sunday she still doesn’t know if she would change anything about the process and committee she used, after the controversy it stirred up on campus and in the community.

“I don’t regret anything I’ve done or the order I did it in,” said Jackie DeMolee, one of several SComm students who sent a letter to the editor of the Dakota Student, the university paper, calling for a change. “All I want is student representation on hiring committees on this campus.”

That letter set off a war of words between DeMolee’s group of mostly undergraduate students and another group, of mostly graduate students, which supported the hiring committee’s composition.

Those four letters, including one sent to the Herald last week, are on the Web site, www.grandforksherald.com.

DeMolee made it clear she is not refuting anything the committee decided, or saying it did a bad job in the process, just that students should be included in such decisions.

Some senators thought it should not push for a voting student member on all committees, but instead, ask that student feedback be taken into account. The amendment was not made.

“The importance of this is that students came to us with this,” said Sen. Kyle Wanner, co-author of the resolution. “They want representation on committees, and it’s our responsibility as senators to do this.”
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