As the Academic Senate Executive Committee reviews the strategic plans of the various standing committees each year, it is faced with the daunting task of how to address all the resolutions that the body has passed over the past year(s). In some instances there is nothing that can be done-at the present time, at least. Others are much easier to address with concrete action. But our adopted resolutions live on, even if they are no longer included as part of a committee's strategic plan for the year. As we consider what to do with some resolutions, we often wonder what the author might be thinking-and so we want to share some of our thinking with you. Perhaps you've imagined writing something like the following:
Dear Academic Senate Committee Chair:
I'm writing to learn more about what ever happened to my resolution on seceding from the union with our current accreditation agency. I know it got referred to the Executive Committee, but they worked with me on it, I resubmitted it and it was passed by the body. What ever happened to it? Gosh, it was a great resolution and, if completed, the world would be a much better place. And what about the one allowing students to self-refer for tutoring? I think this is a very important issue and it needs to be fixed right now. If you could just tell me what needs to be done, I'll be happy to get right on it and make it so.
Eager Beaver Local Senate President
Now, while we can all appreciate and applaud Mr. Beaver's enthusiasm, we have to step back to consider what he is asking for-and determine what is feasible. What is it that they say? "Everything is political." While we may wish that it were not so, sometimes that's the reason that it makes no sense to push something-we are not going to get anywhere. Self-referral for tutoring falls into that category. I can't think of any reason why those who care about the quality of student learning would argue against this-but we can definitely see why those who care about the cost of student learning would argue against it.
Sometimes, the issue is politics, sometimes it's money-and sometimes you just can't separate the two.
So, we file this resolution away-while it remains a goal, it is not one that can effectively be actively pursued at this time. And it will not be forgotten. This is kind of like our "no fees" mantra-we believe it, we chant it, but it is not on anyone's annual strategic plan. One of your authors even had the interesting experience of standing by this principle in a meeting while students sat there and said fees were OK.
Certainly the idea of seceding from our existing relationship with WASC has its merits, but is it feasible? Or better stated, is the energy needed to properly make something like this happen going to usurp our existing efforts at other equally important things? And, when it is all said and done, would the new accrediting entity really be that much better, such that it would be worth all that effort? Not to be a cynic here, but the words echoed by Peter Townsend of the "Who" come to mind, "Meet the new Boss, same as the old Boss!"
So there are a few reasons why we might consider delaying action on a resolution, not the least of which are:
- It will be a stand-off which will promote frustration with no reasonable results. (AKA "banging your head into a wall")
- The effort is far too complex to directly address, although we may chisel away at it (Student Fees, for example)
- The effort is fiscally unreasonable or too consuming of other resources such as staff time.
- The issue became moot, or it fixed itself. (Everyone's favorite!)
- The intent was really more about making a statement, but for the above reasons an actual action is prohibitive.
- And lastly, it was a fun idea, a neat thought, but in the end it is a bit nutty to actually implement.
The point of this discourse?
Your adopted resolutions, unless formally declared unfeasible, live on-and, even if not acted on today, they guide us for the future.
So, keep those great ideas coming so we can continue to effect the changes that you value and continue to improve all that we do.