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Faculty Senate

Representative and elected body of the faculty

Resolutions, Motions & Initiatives

Approved during the 2022-2023 academic year

The Faculty Senate held a special meeting on August 9, 2023, during which the following resolutions were approved: 

RESOLUTION 1: Stop hazing and abuse within the Athletics Department

WHEREAS according to a report by an independent investigator hired by the university in the past year, at least 11 current or former students on the football team acknowledged that hazing has been ongoing within the football program, and 

WHEREAS such behaviors have in some cases gone unchecked by authorities entrusted with students’ well-being, and

WHEREAS recent revelations about hazing on the football team and recent allegations of abuse on other teams reveal widespread violation of the university’s policies, and 

WHEREAS these incidents recall the University’s failure to adequately address the cheer team’s complaints of racism and sexual harassment in 2021, which resulted in the resignation of Athletic Director Mike Polisky and a Faculty Senate resolution calling for a needs assessment for training and accountability measures within the Athletics Department, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED that the university ensure that such abuses cease by (a) completing by June 2024, preferably by the end of April, the recently announced external review of the culture and leadership of the Athletics Department and its accountability mechanisms, while ensuring that outside investigators are free of all conflicts of interest with the university and its trustees; (b) making public the findings and recommendations of the investigation, while protecting students’ anonymity; (c) developing and publicly explaining a comprehensive plan for long-term oversight of the Athletics Department, drawing on the investigators’ recommendations as well as on scientific research on best practices for protecting students by eradicating cultures of hazing, harassment, and abuse; and (d) incorporating an automatic mechanism for periodic follow-up evaluations by an outside arbiter in two-year increments for at least four years.

Resolution 2:  Evaluate and improve the relationship between academics and athletics at Northwestern

WHEREAS Northwestern University is first and foremost an institution of higher education, and 

WHEREAS student athletes at Northwestern attend primarily to obtain an education and a college degree, and

WHEREAS problems in the Athletics Department impact the reputation of the entire University and the experience of students, faculty, and staff, therefore 

BE IT RESOLVED that the University undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the relationship between the academic mission of Northwestern and its athletics program. The findings and recommendations of this evaluation should be publicly released and implemented. Topics should include but not be limited to the quality and rigor of education that student athletes receive, the demographic impacts of sports programs on the composition of the student body; the financial impacts of athletics programs, including fundraising, on the academic mission; and opportunities for collaboration and learning between academics and athletics at Northwestern.

RESOLUTION 3: Ensure future accountability of Athletics Department leadership and create a safe place for all students

WHEREAS power imbalances between staff and students and among students may create a culture of fear of reprisal and of loss of respect and opportunity for student athletes who come forward to discuss certain experiences, 

WHEREAS the university’s Committee on Athletics and Recreation – although it conducts anonymous surveys of current varsity athletes and in-person exit interviews with graduating athletes – has been unable to surmount the structural impediments to disclosure and has failed to uncover incidents of hazing, sexual assault and racism facing students in the Athletics Department, and 

WHEREAS existing policies for constituting the membership of CAR and defining its mandate have also not resulted in meaningful oversight of Athletics, and

WHEREAS the recent outside investigator’s report found that football coaches and staff had “significant opportunities” to discover and report the hazing conduct, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED that the university establish an oversight mechanism through which high-level university authorities outside the Athletics Department have meaningful autonomy and authority to hold the leadership of the Athletics Department accountable for maintaining ethical standards and protecting the well-being of students. Faculty should play a central role in the oversight function; members of the oversight body should be appointed by the Faculty Senate, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the university consult with experts on protecting student athletes to create a permanent, secure mechanism through which students may voice their concerns, as well as specifically dedicated resources for student athletes who have suffered from hazing or other harms.

On June 21, 2023, two weeks after the original motion at the June 7 meeting, the Senate rejected the motion to amend the Faculty Senate Bylaws by a vote of 57-15 with 2 abstentions, failing to reach the required 2/3 majority of the entire Senate. 

The Faculty Senate elected Senator Jill Wilson President-Elect of the Faculty Senate on June 7, 2023.

The Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate nominated Senator Jill Wilson as a candidate for Faculty Senate President-Elect at the May 10, 2023 meeting.

The Faculty Senate approved the following resolution from the Social Responsibility Committee on April 12, 2023: 

WHEREAS Northwestern has expressed a strong commitment to sustainability and sound environmental policy;

WHEREAS Evanston’s City Council adopted a Bird Friendly Building Design Ordinance in September 2022, which proposed new buildings adopt measures such as plastic film on windows to reduce their risk to birds;

WHEREAS Judy Pollock, president of the Chicago Audubon Society and member of Bird-Friendly Evanston, has stated that some of Evanston’s most dangerous buildings for birds were built on Northwestern’s campus;

WHEREAS the Associated Student Government’s Sustainability Committee’s October 2022 Petition to Make Mudd Library Bird Safe notes that “Every year, over 700 birds are killed or injured by flying into buildings at Northwestern as they migrate in the fall and spring. This is because birds do not understand windows; when they see a reflection of a lake, trees, or sky, they believe they can safely continue flying;”

WHEREAS patterned plastic film with dense enough patterns reduces bird collisions by discouraging birds from trying to fly through the gaps;

WHEREAS the ASG’s Sustainability Committee’s October 2022 Petition to Make Mudd Library Bird Safe has received “857 student signatures for the petition, 35 of which were submitted on behalf of a student organization” and the ASG Senate passed resolution on legislation on February 2023 aiming to reduce bird collisions with Mudd Library;

WHEREAS Northwestern University expressed a commitment to implement strategies to reduce bird collisions on campus in its “Bird-Friendly Action Plan” updated in March 2019, and has installed bird-friendly measures at Ryan Fieldhouse, Walter Athletics Center, Kellogg Global Hub, Frances Searle, and Segal Visitors Center landscape plans;

WHEREAS bird-friendly measures have yet to be taken at Mudd Hall and the Allen Center, despite a study showing they are among the top three buildings with the highest recorded collisions;

WHEREAS research on effective ways to reduce bird-building collisions is evolving;

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Faculty Senate requests the university take immediate steps to install bird-friendly measures at Mudd Hall and the Allen Center as soon as resources are available, to utilize stop-gap measures while waiting for said resources to be available, and to undertake regular reviews of the effectiveness of the bird-friendly measures approximately every five years to ensure Northwestern remains a committed steward of the Lake Michigan migratory bird flyway.

The Faculty Senate approved the following resolution from the Educational Affairs Committee on March 8, 2023:

WHEREAS 5% of students at the 100 most selective colleges are community college transfer students, and available data suggests that Northwestern lags its peers in admitting students from this population; 

WHEREAS the Community College population has a higher share of under-represented minorities and students from lower socioeconomic status than the current Northwestern student body; 

WHEREAS increased enrollment of Community College students has support from faculty, the Associated Student Government, Deans’ Offices, and the Provost; 

WHEREAS Northwestern currently admits transfer students from many sorts of colleges, including Community Colleges, and these students are academically successful at Northwestern; 

WHEREAS transfer students admitted to Northwestern face a high degree of uncertainty around articulation and application of previously completed college credits, as well as challenges in adapting to the culture, calendar, and climate at Northwestern; 

WHEREAS current processes for articulation of transfer credits are inefficient and time-consuming for faculty and staff; 

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT Northwestern collect data about the admissions pipeline and student experience for all transfer students, with particular attention to transfer students from community colleges. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT by July of 2023 Northwestern make public and allow to be disseminated lists of courses that have already been approved by faculty for transfer credit. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT by the start of the 2024-2025 academic year, Northwestern evaluate procedures for the articulation of transfer credit to improve efficiency and transparency for all transfer students. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT Northwestern create advising positions dedicated to the support of transfer students and increase staff positions to support credit articulation. 




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