Harvey Mudd College faculty will vote on a motion Thursday that would close faculty meetings to students without faculty permission, according to two HMC professors.
Previously, students and others were allowed to observe faculty meetings unless the Faculty Executive Committee or the faculty voted to close the meeting, according to the faculty notebook. Attendees could participate in meetings with meeting chair consent.
Under the new change proposed by the Faculty Executive Committee, the meetings would be closed to students by default. Non-faculty members would need to be invited to attend faculty meetings, according to an email sent to the HMC email list “Community L” from computer science professor Melissa O’Neill.
With the new language, faculty meetings would be “normally closed, except to voting and non-voting faculty members.” Those seeking to attend meetings would need to send a written request to the chair of the faculty, who would then make a decision with the FEC.
In response to a TSL inquiry following her email, O’Neill said the rule had been in place since 1975.
“The fact that it has been our unchanged policy for 45 years indicates to me that it could be considered a foundational value,” she said. “To me, it reflects the idea that, when the college was founded, students were seen as trusted partners in the processes that provide their own education.”
ASHMC President Mariesa Teo HM ’22, a non-voting, ex officio member of the FEC according to the faculty notebook, said via message, “Ultimately, any decisions about the openness of faculty meetings are up to the faculty to decide, just as faculty do not have a say in the openness of ASHMC meetings.”
“I respect the right of the faculty to decide on the openness of their meetings, and it isn’t something for me to endorse or push back on,” she added.
An HMC spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This article was last updated Nov. 11, 2020 at 8:26 p.m.
Maria Heeter SC ’22 is an economics major from Dover, New Hampshire. She previously served as TSL’s fall 2020 editor-in-chief.