Jul 09, 2020

Fresno State looks to improve culture of accountability

A new policy is being drafted in an effort to encourage Fresno State professors to be more accountable for their actions on and off campus.

Faculty and staff have begun working on a document that will detail behavioral guidelines expected of their peers, entitled “Principles of Community: How we treat each other.”

A “Workplace Quality Task Force” led by Dr. Matthew Jendian, chair of the sociology department, and Dr. James Mullooly, chair of the anthropology department, has been established with the goal of determining a set of values expected of Fresno State employees.

The task force is using a series of surveys that began in March 2017 to gather input on what behavioral expectation the campus employees have for each other. The hope is that this communal effort will promote a sense of accountability to one another in abiding by these guidelines, according to Jendian.

“Just by having a conversation says your voice is valued,” Jendian said. “When you’re listening to peers you may be more inclined to make a conscious effort to change.”

Interim Provost Robert Harper said the document is meant to serve as a set of guidelines for faculty and staff conduct, but will not include disciplinary measures.

“It’s not a set of mandates or policies to be followed,” said Harper. “I think it provides some recommendations on what we would like to see in the way of behavior for free speech without encroaching on it.”

Harper said the document should be finished by the end of the semester, at which point it will be presented to the President’s Cabinet and the Associated Students, Inc. Senate to be affirmed.

According to Jendian, the project began in late 2016. However, the document has gained new relevance in light of controversial remarks posted on social media by a Fresno State professor during the spring semester, as well as several other incidents that have taken place in recent months.

Jendian added that this is not the first document of its kind. He said the task force examined and drew inspiration from similar documents that other campuses have instituted. CSU San Marcos has a similar document titled “Working Together,” and UC Merced’s document is also called “Principles of Community.”

These documents all share common elements and a theme of a unified, cooperative and inclusive culture by which teachers, students, administrators and staff are expected to present themselves and treat each other, a culture Jendian hopes to establish at Fresno State.

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