The college has started creating and revising a series of policies that pertain to producing a respectful workplace for faculty and staff, gender inclusivity and students with children.
The respectful workplace standards will be drafted in collaboration with Geneseo’s chapter of the United University Professions union, as President Denise Battles announced at the April 3 College Senate meeting. The gender inclusivity policy will be revised under advisement with Interim Chief Diversity Officer robbie routenberg, according to the same announcement.
“The campus is involved with several policy development efforts,” Battles said at the meeting. “The policy on promoting a respectful workplace is in development … and it was prompted by our conversations with UUP leadership that expressed an interest in a civility or an anti-bullying policy. We’re also working on updating what we’re now calling our gender inclusivity policy.”
The current neutral language policy dates back over a decade, and is from a social climate where masculine pronouns were commonly used to seem more linguistically universal, according to routenberg. The college is in the process of modifying the new gender inclusivity policy to reflect current and updated language in regard to gender, according to routenberg.
“In today’s conversation of gender, we understand that what was cutting edge at that point is now already outdated,” routenberg said. “The idea is that we’ll start to minimize the gendered language that is inappropriately used.”
This change would be put into practice in official publications and correspondence from the college to prevent exclusivity by using outdated language, according to routenberg. Various groups on-campus are in the process of contributing to the policy and providing feedback, according to routenberg.
“Whatever language is put into an updated policy really reflects how this campus conceives gender inclusive and/or gender-neutral language in a policy context,” routenberg said. “Geneseo is really striving to make sure that our language reflects a current understanding of gender, as well as helps cultivate an inclusive community and inclusive presence.”
While the current effort will not mandate any changes in the way the college approaches gender inclusive language, routenberg hopes that the modified policy could lead to reassessing the typical standards of procedure surrounding gendered language.
The developing initiative regarding students who have children seeks to provide clarity for faculty with students who bring their children to class, according to Battles.
“We understand that there are questions that arise when faculty have students who bring children along to class,” Battles said at the Senate meeting. “The policy lays out the rules of the road for that to happen.”
The respectful workplace policy would address harassment among faculty and staff, according to UUP Chapter President Weston Kennison. Leadership from the union and the administration, including Battles, hold meetings throughout the semester to discuss developing issues, according to Kennison.
“We work toward information sharing and making people aware of things and working toward that sort of large problem that promotes a culture of cooperation and respect,” Kennison said.
Lack of state funding for proper staffing contributes to growing tension in the workplace, according to Kennison.
“When we are not able to hire the staff that we need, and positions go unfilled, other people are expected to pick up the work for the unfilled position,” Kennison said. “It’s bound to create a certain kind of culture of friction that normally wouldn’t be there if we were properly staffed.”
A series of initiatives addressing workplace harassment, staffing issues and performance program and review concerns contribute to creating a more stress-free work environment, Kennison said. The college is interested in supporting safe-zone training and other educational and professional programs to foster understanding and respect, according to Kennison.
“By creating an atmosphere, especially among the staff of mutual respect, we get to actually model that for the students,” Kennison said. “We should also be models of people who have a sense of the common good and a sense of a mission larger than their own. In doing that, it promotes the fundamental mission of the college.”