Campus Education Faculty Senate made its opposition to Ohio U’s new protest policies clear By Nathan Hart Posted on September 12, 2017 5 min read 0 1 1,608 Interim Vice President and Provost David Descutner frowns during Faculty Senate. Photo by Marilyn Icsman. Faculty Senate squared off with Ohio U’s administration about changes to the “Freedom of Expression” and “Use of Outdoor Space on the Athens Campus” policies. New policies on free speech, protesting, and grade appeals were discussed at Faculty Senate’s first meeting of the year, alongside appearances by President Duane Nellis and Interim Vice President and Provost David Descutner. Discussion of free speech and protesting on campus Ohio University has instituted a new, controversial policy that restricts free speech and protesting on campus. University policies 24.014 and 24.016, otherwise known as “Freedom of Expression” and “Use of Outdoor Space on the Athens Campus,” respectively, were hot topics of debate at the senate meeting. These policies require any student at Ohio U or any outsider to reserve a space on campus to protest. Any protest indoors, specifically, may be subject to consequences if they are not pre-approved. Journalism prof Bernhard Debatin calling it a "sweeping prohibition of free speech" that is not pre-approved — Conor (@condormorris) September 11, 2017 Senate members expressed concern at this policy, criticizing its vague wording and lack of specific consequences. Members also criticized the fact that the Faculty Senate was not involved when creating this policy. Descutner said this policy was created due to a “sense of urgency” from the administration that arose in order to prevent another incident like last February, when 70 protesters were arrested in Baker University Center. Proposed policy for grade appeals Senate had a first reading on a proposed change to a policy regarding final grade appeals, which seeks to remedy the current lack of a timeline for grade appeals. This new policy outlines a timeline that would complete the appeals process within 70 days of the initial appeal and requires all appeals to be submitted within 30 days of a new semester. This policy was not approved by Senate yet, and will likely be discussed in future Faculty Senate meetings. President Duane Nellis makes his Faculty Senate debut After a round of applause, Nellis took the senate floor Monday night. Nellis, who attended the Interfaith Peace Walk earlier in the evening, began by sharing his remembrance of the Sept. 11 attacks. He then went on to outline his plan for engaging with Faculty Senate. “My approach is really to hear your perspectives and collectively, all of us, work together,” Nellis said. “And that is really true on every dimension.” Nellis concluded by pledging to continue fighting inequality at Ohio U. Descutner Gives Enrollment Update Descutner offered some key statistics about Ohio U’s enrollment for the Faculty Senate to consider Monday night. Enrollment at Ohio U is currently at 35,845 students, which is down 1.5 percent from last year. Undergraduate enrollment is at 23,158 students, which is down 1.7 percent. First year enrollment is at 4,048 students, which is down 2.61 percent. Finally, the average GPA of the incoming freshman class is 3.54, which is the highest it has been since Ohio U started tracking GPA. The next Faculty Senate meeting will be held on Oct. 16, at 7:10 p.m. in Walter 235. Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the average Ohio U GPA.