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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Faculty opposes guns on campus

The UA Faculty Senate voted to oppose proposed state laws increasing the presence of guns on campus and chose to align with the TUSD Mexican-American Studies Program.

In the resolution, the Faculty Senate said it “”emphatically opposes H.B. 2001 and H.B. 2014, which increase the number of guns on campus and endanger the safety of faculty, students and staff.””

If passed, the bills would make it legal for a faculty member who has a valid permit to have a concealed firearm on the campus of a community college or public university, and that no university, college or community college can enact a rule that prohibits the possession of a concealed weapon by a person who has a valid permit.

“”Firearms have no place in an academic environment,”” said Laura McCammon, an associate professor in the School of Theatre, Film and Television.  

Anthony Jull, a geosciences professor, said he heard many faculty members say they will not continue to teach if guns are welcomed on campus.

The senate voted to endorse the Tucson Unified School District Mexican-American Studies Program by a vote of 30 to 7. The program has been generating controversy since state Attorney General Tom Horne, the former Arizona superintendent of public instruction, called for the program’s demise last year.

Members of the senate decided the program draws on research in the Ethnic Studies field, is a “”pedagogically sound”” program and yields graduates who become UA students who make valuable contributions both in and beyond the classroom.

Although many in favor wanted to amend the resolution to include statistical data regarding how the program enables improved academic achievement for students who participate, Andy Silverman, Joseph M. Livermore professor of law and director of Clinical Program, explained that John Huppenthal, the state superintendent of public instruction, has 30 days to change his opinion on the bill and that this resolution must be passed in a timely manner.

Michael Polakowski, associate professor in the School of Government and Public Policy, said that as a Research I Institution, it is vital the UA utilize data to support claims made in the formal statement.

“”It is important for us to look like we are academic and we are sound,”” he said. “”This makes us sound like we are another political party.””

The senate also voted to pass an amendment regarding final exam regulations that would require instructors of online classes to give their final exam during the last exam period on the last day of final exam week or allow the exam to be taken at the student’s convenience any time during final exam week, if the class is offered during a regular academic semester.

George Gehrels, chair of the Undergraduate Council, said this is a temporary solution so online class final examinations do not overlap with other scheduled final examinations.

The senate also discussed the Incentive Program for Voluntary Retirement, which offers eligible employees a year’s salary if they choose to retire at the end of the academic year or summer session. Allison Vaillancourt, the vice president of human resources, explained that the money saved as a result of this program would remain in the college it came from.

For example, if five professors from the College of Science chose to retire under this program, the money saved would go directly back in the College of Science’s budget.

This is to help colleges deal with budget reductions, Vaillancourt said. If the college decides to hire faculty after others have retired, they can do so if they have the funds in their budget.

She said that there are 253 employees eligible for the program and that about 20 percent of eligible employees will take the offer, saving the university about $8 million.

If too many employees in one department want to take the offer, then Provost Meredith Hay will have to turn people away, which is “”not her goal,”” according to Vaillancourt.

“”We decided to do this (the incentive program) very recently and it was hostile to put something like this together,”” she said. “”It was when we learned what the budget reduction looked like.””

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