How a Bill Becomes a Law

  1. Senate legitimacy
    1. Historically, European and American universities have granted a great deal of governance authority and responsibility to their faculties, especially in educational matters, due to their inherent knowledge of subject matter and pedagogic expertise. 

      The degree and definition of faculty authority has waxed and waned as the power of external boards of trustees grew, as middle-level administrative management became increasingly necessary, and as public higher education expanded.

      However, the tradition of faculty authority over educational policy is well established and has evolved into a process of collegial or shared governance in academic, educational, and professional matters throughout the U.S.

    2. The legal authority for collegiality or shared governance in the CSU takes two forms.
      1. The subchapter of Title V (of the State Administrative Code) which considers "Educational Programs" defines the term appropriate campus authority as "… the president of the campus acting upon the recommendation of the faculty of the campus."
      2. The Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA), our collective bargaining legislation, signed into law in 1978, contains the following language in Section 3560(e),

        "The Legislature recognizes that joint decision-making and consultation between administration and faculty or academic employees is the long-accepted manner of governing institutions of higher learning and is essential to the performance of the educational missions of such institutions, and declares that it is the purpose of this act to both preserve and encourage that process. Nothing contained in this [law] shall be construed to restrict, limit, or prohibit the full exercise of the functions of the faculty in any shared governance mechanisms or practices, including… the Academic Senates of the California State University and Colleges, and other faculty councils, with respect to policies on academic and professional matters affecting the California State University and Colleges… The principle of peer review of appointment, promotion, retention, and tenure for academic employees shall be preserved."

    3. Thus, the faculty represented through its Academic Senates, has a professional and legal right to participate in the governance of their campus and the CSU system.


  2. Senate responsibilities
    1. The responsibilities of the Academic Senate are stated in Article III, Section 1, of the Constitution of the Faculty of SFSU.

      "The Academic Senate, subject to established policies and regulations of the Legislature and the Trustees and the concurrence of the President of the University, shall formulate policies and procedures regarding:

      1. appointment and review of academic administrators
      2. faculty appointment, retention, tenure, promotion, leave, and dismissal
      3. curriculum and instruction
      4. library and research
      5. student affairs, admissions, retentions, awarding of grades and graduation
      6. business and fiscal matters
      7. campus development
      8. academic and professional standards
      9. mission and goals
      10. Other matters about the welfare and excellence of the University."


  3. How does the Academic Senate formulate policies and procedures?
    1. Most of the work of the Senate begins with the Executive Committee.
      • Matters for Senate consideration are received by the Executive Committee from a number of different sources:
          1. individual faculty members and senators
          2. University committees
          3. the administration
          4. the Statewide Academic Senate
          5. the Legislature and other governmental bodies
          6. other schools and universities
          7. the general public
        • The Executive Committee refers most of these matters to Senate standing committees or University committees for initial consideration; some matters, however, it considers itself.
        • Committees, particularly Senate standing committees, deliberate on the matter and may decide to take some form of action: pass a resolution, amend existing policy, draft new policy, etc. This action is in the form of a recommendation to the full Academic Senate.
        • Committee action is referred back to the Executive Committee, not for approval, but because the Executive Committee prepares the Senate agenda.
        • An action item will normally appear on the Academic Senate's agenda twice; in first reading and then in second reading.
        • The action item will be introduced by the Chair of the standing committee; no formal motion for approval is necessary, that is implied by its appearance on the agenda.
        • Any Senator or guest who wishes to speak on the item may do so by signalling the Vice Chair who will place names on the speaker's list. The Chair will then recognize the individual when their name reaches the top of the speaker's list. The Discussion continues until all individuals who wish to speak on the item have had a chance to do so.
        • No final action (vote) is taken on a first reading item. It then returns on the agenda of the next Senate meeting for additional discussion.
        • However, a Senator can make a motion to move a first reading item to second reading at the same meeting. This motion must be passed by a majority of those present and voting.
        • Most votes taken in the Senate on agenda items are voice votes, in favor, opposed, and abstentions. However, after a voice vote has been taken, any Senator may call for a division or for a roll call vote. The former is a vote taken on a show of hands while the latter requires the Secretary to record the vote of each Senator.
        • An item in second reading must be disposed of by the Senate at that meeting. Discussion continues until all persons have been heard after which a final vote is taken on the item.
        • During the discussion, any Senator can make a motion to amend the item under consideration. If the motion to amend is seconded, a new speaker's list is started in the amendment. The amendment must be acted upon before the discussion of the main motion can resume.
        • A motion can be accepted by the maker and seconder of the original motion as friendly, in which case it is incorporated in the main motion: further discussion and a vote on the amendment are preclude.
        • A motion to amend an amendment is not in order.
        • At any time during the discussion of an amendment or main motion, a Senator may make a motion to terminate debate (call the question) on the item, or on all issues before the house. If seconded, such a motion is not debatable, and must be passed by a majority.
        • If a motion to terminate debate passes, a vote is immediately taken on the amendment or main motion (or possibly both in sequence).
    2. A Senator may also introduce an action item on the floor of the Senate.
      • He or she must first move to amend the agenda which, after seconding, requires a two-thirds majority.
      • Then, when that agenda item is reached, he or she may move whatever they wish; after seconding, normal rules apply.
    3. A non-Senator may not make motions and hence may not directly propose resolutions or policy changes on the floor of the Senate.
      • However, a non-Senator may approach the Senate Chair, the Executive Committee, the Chair or a member of any standing committee, or any Senator with a request to introduce a motion for a resolution or policy change.
      • We strongly encourage, as does the Senate By-Laws, that all action items originate with the Executive Committee.
    4. After approval by the Senate, policy changes, but not resolutions, are forwarded to the President for approval.
      • If the President does not concur with any parts of the policy, he must meet with the Senate Executive Committee to discuss his non-concurrence. He then has three choices in responding.
        1. He may approve the policy with no change.
        2. He may approve the policy with changes; those changes become recorded as independently developed administrative policy.
        3. He may not approve the policy and return it to the Senate.