Faculty Senate talks testing accommodations

JJ Bullock, Editor-in-Chief

Testing accommodations at Eastern was once again a hot topic of discussion for Eastern’s Faculty Senate at its meeting Tuesday in Booth Library.

The Senate has brought this issue up previously, and again on Tuesday the issue was raised about what can be done to fix what some faculty believe is a major problem in the way Eastern handles testing accommodations for students who need them.

Eastern currently has no centralized location for testing accommodations; instead, faculty must handle making accommodations, such as providing time, space and test readers, for students on their own.

This, some faculty members say, is becoming taxing, and senator Teshome Abebe, a professor of economics, said Eastern’s request of faculty to provide time and space is “inappropriate.”

Abebe said the reason the request is inappropriate is because Eastern is not set up in a manner that authorizes faculty to allocate time, space and resources to students. He said to the senate on Tuesday, “let’s not put ourselves where we are not authorized to be.”

Abebe said, like most faculty, his loyalty lies first to the success of his students, not to the institution, so he will provide his students with necessary accommodations, but he still takes issue with the school’s request on faculty.

“The issue is, by policy, the way the university works, we (faculty) have not been authorized to allocate space. We have also not been authorized to spend a dollar in terms of resources to hire somebody who is a reader,” Abebe said. “But to require faculty members to do both of these — to find a reader as well as to allocate space — is a misdirection of the responsibility of the university.”

A centralized testing accommodation center did exist on Eastern at one point at Ninth Street Hall, but the state budget impasse saw the closure of that facility.

Eastern’s Provost Jay Gatrell has said that solving this issue is a priority, but he also expressed to the senate that it is currently an issue of resources.

Gatrell said it is going to be a choice of reallocating current resources to solve the issue because there is no new money.

Abebe, like others, hopes to see the return of a central location.

“My hope is that the institution will address the resource issue and that there is a central place where resource disposition, resource allocation, is done in terms of hiring individuals,” Abebe said. “If there is a requirement to hire students, then we should have that resource either given to the department chair or the dean. That way, we can address the issue.”

Abebe said the same logic applies to the need for space.

The senate also appointed Sue Gosse, an associate professor in the nursing department, to be a member of Faculty Senate.

JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].