University Senate discusses budget, students’ right to record

Emily DeLetter

A representative with management consulting company Huron met with the University Senate during their October meeting Thursday to answer questions from faculty concerning WKU’s budget development process.

Huron is a consulting group that specializes in services to higher education. They have been contracted with WKU since January of 2018 to help with the university’s ongoing budget crisis. Managing Director Andrew Laws gave a presentation to the Senate focusing on the current position of the budget model.

Laws outlined a new governance structure for the budget process, which will include faculty budget committee participation. Six subcommittees were proposed: The Executive Budget Committee, Auxiliary/Support Unit Allocation Committee, Master Planning Committee, Curriculum Committee, Space Allocation Committee, and the Faculty Senate Budget and Finance Committee. Each subcommittee was designed to have faculty representation. 

“We’ve been working to outline what changes to the budget process would need to take place in order to facilitate a more distributed or decentralized budget model,” Laws said.

The Senate also discussed a resolution recently passed by SGA and endorsed by the Senate Executive Committee (SEC), which was to “establish and support the right of WKU students to record, via audio and/or video, their meetings with university staff and faculty,” according to theresolution

Resolution author James Baugh clarified the resolution allows students to openly record their meetings with faculty. This reinforces Kentucky’s current recording law, which only requires the consent of one party to record. Baugh said there is no specific guideline at WKU that would prevent this law from being reinforced.  

“I do know from my own personal experience and the testimony of other students that there are students that are being told if they try to record meetings with faculty they will be referred to the office of student conduct and discipline,” he said. “That is having a chilling effect on students being able to have these meetings with faculty and still feeling protected and safe.”

University senator and sociology professor Lauren McClain said faculty in her college, Potter College of Arts and Letters received a directive from the dean’s office not allowing students to record meetings. 

“That seems to go against what Kentucky law states,” she said.

The senate voted in a close vote against endorsing the resolution. 

Senate Chair Kirk Atkinson also mentioned the recent SGA resolution regarding class cancellation on the upcoming election day for the November midterms.

“We were coming down close, and time was a critical element here to make this happen,” Atkinson said. “In the future [class cancellation] is something we’ll think about, we hear it, but this is something we don’t do at this point, although we do want to get out and vote.”

Reporter Emily DeLetter can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @emilydeletter.