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September 15, 2011

What are rights of faculty,

staff who also are students?

Question: When should a faculty member not be treated as a faculty member?

Answer: When said faculty member also is enrolled as a student.

That dual status of faculty member-student, and by extension staff member-student, was the crux of a discussion at the Sept. 6 Faculty Assembly meeting, where members pondered why the University does not extend the rights and privileges of a student to faculty and staff who are enrolled in classes.

Assembly member Linda Hartman said that last spring term she was denied access to printing at the student computer lab in Sutherland Hall, which requires a student ID card, even though she was enrolled in classes and had paid the student computing fee.

That anecdote kicked off a discussion about whether the University should issue separate student ID cards to enrolled employees or otherwise amend the identification system to afford those employees access to student discounts for athletic event tickets, Pitt Arts events and other bargains, both within and outside the University.

Similarly, Assembly members noted an imbalance favoring faculty and staff who enjoy free Port Authority rides that are financed largely through the student transportation fee.

University Senate President Michael Pinsky said, “I believe this is an important question. The people who have dual responsibilities, for us it’s faculty and student, but it could be staff and student, what is their status with regard to printing and other privileges?

“I do believe that if you’re a student, you should have the rights and privileges of a student, regardless of any other status. Period,” he continued. “No matter how old you are, you still should get all the benefits. Unless there’s something I’m missing.”

Pinsky cautioned that he was not arguing for a one-size-fits-all approach to all privileges, because there are differences established by Pitt’s administration for faculty status, staff status and student status. For example, he said, administrators decided that students only are allowed to use workout facilities in the Petersen Events Center, while faculty and staff only are eligible to purchase a membership for the University Club fitness facilities.

He said he would ask the Provost’s office to clarify the policies governing University dual status and will report at the next Faculty Assembly meeting on Oct. 4.

In other Assembly business:

• Alexandros Labrinidis, chair of the Senate computer usage committee, reported that Computing Services and Systems Development has launched the opt-in system for employees who want to receive general University mass mailings by email instead of in paper form. (See May 12 University Times.)

The system is accessed via the Read Green link on the My Profile page on the Pitt portal.

• Martha Ann Terry, co-chair of the Senate community relations committee (CRC), reported that the Nov. 10 Senate fall plenary session will focus on “Community/Campus Partnerships for Health and Wellness.”

• Pinsky said that Rush Miller, director of the University Library System and Hillman University Librarian, is expected to report on the status of Pitt’s open-access scholarship repository at the next Faculty Assembly meeting. That presentation will launch a series of discussions for Assembly member input, Pinsky said.

Miller and Pinsky are members of the University-wide task force that was charged last spring to make policy and procedure recommendations subject to the approval of Faculty Assembly and Senate Council.

(See April 15 and 29 University Times.)

• Pinsky charged all 15 of the Senate standing committees with reviewing their mission statements, which he said had not been done formally in three years. Revisions to committee mission statements must be approved by Faculty Assembly.

Each committee also will be asked to report on its activities at one Assembly meeting this year.

• Due to room scheduling conflicts, Assembly meetings on Nov. 1, Nov. 29 and June 5 will be held in 2700 Posvar Hall. The other monthly meetings will be held in Ballroom A, University Club.

• Pinsky announced that Assembly meetings no longer would include complimentary refreshments, due to budget constraints.

“It’s a small but appropriate cost-cutting step,” he said.

—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 44 Issue 2

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