View Bill 20-21-09

Senate Bill 20-21-09

Bill ID: 20-21-09
Name: University Senate Provisions on Virtual Meetings
Proposed: 09/09/2020
Sponsor: Senate Executive Committee (SEC)
Proposal: As a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the State and USM guidelines restricted groups of 10 or more individuals. In March 2020, The University moved all courses to an online environment for the remainder of the semester and employees were asked to telework. In light of these measures, the Senate Executive Committee acted on behalf of the Senate to amend the Senate Bylaws to allow virtual Senate Meetings until the State of Emergency and University restrictions for all constituencies had ended. The SEC also voted to charge the Senate Elections, Representation, & Governance (ERG) Committee with developing formal provisions for virtual meetings of the Senate by the end of the Fall 2020 semester in order to develop a permanent amendment to the Bylaws to prepare for any future situations that would prevent meetings from being held in person.

This new charge will allow the ERG Committee to develop the formal provisions for the Senate Bylaws.
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Status: Completed
Completed On: 12/10/2020


Presidential Approval: 12/10/2020
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Reviewed By: Senate
Received: 12/01/2020
Decision Date: 12/08/2020
Decision: The Senate voted to approve the report.
Next Step: Presidential Approval
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Reviewed By: Senate Executive Committee (SEC)
Received: 11/12/2020
Decision Date: 11/18/2020
Decision: The SEC voted to place the report on the agenda of the December 8, 2020 Senate meeting for consideration.
Actions: The SEC noted that the version of the Bylaws in the report will be updated after receiving Presidential approval.
Next Step: Senate Review
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Reviewed By: Elections, Representation, & Governance (ERG) Committee
Received: 09/09/2020
Decision Date: 11/04/2020
Decision Due By: 11/10/2020
Decision: The ERG Committee voted to forward its recommendations to the SEC for consideration.
Actions: The ERG Committee began its work on the charge at its September 9, 2020 meeting. The committee reviewed provisions for Senate meetings as specified in the Plan and Bylaws, best practices at peer institutions, and consulted with the Senate Director and Parliamentarian. The committee learned that the prior provision regarding in-person participation was added to the Bylaws by the Plan of Organization Review Committee (PORC) in 2015 to prohibit absentee or proxy voting, as PORC felt it was important for Senators to be engaged in the discussion and aware of any amendments to cast a vote.

The ERG Committee agreed that the Senate should be allowed to meet virtually, recognized that preventing virtual meetings would prohibit the Senate from conducting any of its business. The committee agreed to strike all existing language regarding virtual meetings from the Bylaws to allow for maximum flexibility in holding meetings, and to add language restricting voting to eligible Senators who are participating in the meeting when the vote is held. The committee agreed to approve administrative recommendations that the Senate should adopt principles that guide the structure of virtual meetings, that guidelines for logistical elements should be developed and maintained, and due to the uncertain duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, that Senate leadership and the SEC should consider holding meetings virtually for the remainder of the 2020-2021 academic year, and consider making decisions about the platform for future meetings after the University returns to full operations.

On November 4, 2020, the ERG Committee voted to approve the amendment to the Bylaws and administrative recommendations.
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