The Urbana Academic Senate on Nov. 5 approved a carefully worded resolution reaffirming the legal rights of members of the Graduate Employees Organization.
The statement calls for a "timely and fair resolution" in current contract negotiations with university administration and reminds campus departments to withhold "retribution" or "retaliation" - practices already prevented by law - against GEO members participating in any called strike.
Student senator Monte Beaty told senators the resolution was crafted carefully to ensure the senate was not advocating for either side in contract negotiations. The student senate resolution was approved unanimously.
"What this resolution does not do is pick sides," he said.
Katherine Galvin, an associate provost, said she was hopeful that approving the statement was merely a formality and that ongoing negotiations soon would lead to a fair resolution.
She said the faster a deal could be worked out the fewer disruptions the campus would experience. The GEO's contract expired in August.
"I hope we can work very hard at the bargaining table and avoid a strike," she said. "The departments must honor whatever decision (GEO members) make. We are working very hard to prevent a strike from occurring."
Senators also endorsed a faculty-written, SEC-sponsored resolution arguing the importance of keeping the campus in control of academic professional exemption authority. The senate already had endorsed a similar resolution offered by the Council of Academic Professionals.
As it stands now, the campus retains decision-making authority regarding which support positions will be civil service and which will be academic professional.
Citing general statewide abuses, the State Universities Civil Service System has audited Illinois universities and reclassified many positions, and may consider a measure to retain sole exemption authority.
"We believe that such a development would harm the institution by requiring that a third party assume responsibility for determining which positions are exempt," said the statement. "Making these determinations within the university's decision-making process is essential to the mission-critical functions of the university."
CAP, meanwhile, released updated results of the current SUCCS audit process, which officials deemed "disappointing." Of the 200 campus positions reviewed, according to CAP information, 122 were recommended for reclassification.
Senators also endorsed a statement recommitting the university to an environment of inclusion in a resolution recommended by the Equal Opportunity and Inclusion Committee.
Intended to support the chancellor's diversity initiative, the statement reads:
"We support a diversity of world views, histories and cultural knowledge across a range of social groups including race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation abilities, economic class, religion and their intersections. We aspire to create a truly pluralistic environment, free of barriers associated with identity, in our pursuit of academic and scholarly excellence."