Okay, so I took liberty with Tip O’Neill’s famous quote of “All politics is local” and please, no groans from those grammarians about “is” instead of “are!” But Speaker O’Neill was correct in his observation that what happens at the local level is vital to the political operation of a country (and my extrapolation to college campuses and districts). We had strong evidence of this when more than 250 faculty leaders attended the Fall Plenary Session in November of this last year. We were able to participate in a variety of breakouts and other activities that provided us all with vital information for us to take back to our local senates for dissemination, discussion and action. My committee is responsible for two breakouts that are presented on a rather regular basis---one as an introduction to new delegates at a plenary session and another on practices for effective senates (the PowerPoint presentations for both of these breakouts are on the Senate’s website at www.asccc.org).
The first breakout is listed for new delegates, but it is really for all “newbie” attendees to a plenary session. It is important for everyone to be informed of the roles and responsibilities expected of them at session. As we always say, the work and actions of the state Academic Senate are determined by the resolutions that are passed by local college and district delegates. It is especially important for delegates (there is one from each college and recognized district senate), though, as these are the attendees who will vote on resolutions. We cover some of the basics about what happens at session, from breakouts to area meetings (you mean we have to be coherent at 8:30 am??) to resolutions and the voting process on the last day of the session and elections of Senate officers and representatives (and hear our explanation of “trickle down”).
The other breakout is equally important (note: all the session breakouts are extremely informative and interesting, but I am tooting my own horn right now!) in that we hopefully are able to relate good practices for facilitating effective local senates. We start off with a background of the basis of academic senates with a lot of numbers (AB 1725, Title 5 section 53200, 10+1) and acronyms (ASCCC, CCLC, CO, FACCC) to a discussion of collegial consultation between the local academic senate and the local governing board, either through mutual agreement or rely primarily. I think the most prominent phrase that I used continually through the breakout was “academic and professional matters.” But it can never be stated too many times---“in ALL academic and professional matters, the academic senate must ALWAYS be consulted collegially (either through mutual agreement or rely primarily).” There are no IFs, ANDs or BUTs about that!