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The MSU Denver Staff Senate is born (almost)

Update on merger of Council of Administrators and Classified Staff Council.

By Cora Zaletel

February 19, 2019

Members of COA and CSC at a meetingThe merger between the Classified Staff Council and Council of Administrators into the new Metropolitan State University of Denver Staff Senate is moving into the homestretch this spring. The individual groups are meeting separately but in the same space as they proceed with the writing of bylaws.

Metza Templeton, CSC president, said the idea of the merger arose because of the declining number of classified staff and the resulting drop in CSC participation that has escalated since 2012 legislation that allowed for the shift in job classifications at higher-education institutions. Before 2005, there were 800 classified staff to about 100 administrative staff, but today, just over 100 staff are classified. She hopes the merger will begin to break down an “us vs. them” mentality she has experienced.

The executive committees of both groups met in July to begin drafting a constitution, and in October they conducted a survey to share the proposed constitution and gather opinions on how to proceed. Survey results showed strong support for the merger (over 90 percent of respondents) and for moving forward with the proposed constitution.

Since the start of the spring semester, leadership from the two groups has been meeting weekly to draft the bylaws of the new Staff Senate, with hopes of having a final draft in March that can be voted on in April (passage with a majority of votes cast). The election of senators and officers would follow in May.

The constitution and bylaws then will be submitted to the Policy Advisory Council to vet and share with the campus. Once approved, they will become part of the University Policy library. Plans for an inauguration celebration in June already have begun, with the first official meeting of the MSU Denver Staff Senate expected in July. 

COA President Evan Bowles said goals of the Staff Senate leadership group include raising the voice, status and efficacy of staff advocacy efforts, improving communications across departmental and employee classes, and building a community that gives all staff members, including student employees, an opportunity to participate in the governance process. The new Senate will be composed of two staff senators from each division and college/school and 12 representatives at large led by a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. Each council currently has a seat on the President’s Cabinet. Once the merger is completed, only the Staff Senate will have a seat on the council.

“We are trying to increase the status and efficacy of the staff groups, while being more inclusive,” he said. “Our bylaws also will have a built-in mechanism for collaboration with other campus bodies, such as SGA, Faculty Senate, Alumni Association and Council of Chairs and Directors.”

The survey raised questions about the inclusion of student employees in the Senate and whether they could be adequately represented, given the temporary nature of their employment. Bowles said the constitution does not mandate participation of student employees but merely makes it possible for student staff to participate in the governance process. Another concern was whether student employees could receive the compensation proposed in the constitution. Bowles said a stipend for Senate members has been proposed but not approved.

“Student employees make this University work,” said Bowles. “We wouldn’t function without them, and in fact, many of our current employees began as student employees. We are changing the cultural norms about how we value student employees, and I think that we should continue to expand how we support and include them in University operations.” 

Bowles and Templeton invited all interested administrative, classified and student staff to consider running for a senatorial seat later in the spring and to reach out now if they wish to participate in the Staff Senate’s development.

Interested individuals can contact the team at the Staff Senate Sharepoint site.

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