The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Faculty Senate Pass Resolutions Requesting Stronger Face Covering and Telecommuting Policies

Photo credit: Audrey McClure

Southern Methodist University’s Faculty Senate passed resolutions on June 24 requesting the university take action on two key issues: expanding telecommuting options for faculty and staff, and requiring face masks be worn in more places.

The resolutions call for new action to be taken by SMU beyond the recent extension requiring face coverings be worn through August 4, which is concurrent with Dallas County’s face mask requirements. The Faculty Senate also called for the deadline to request a telecommuting work option, that was originally set for July 1, to be extended to July 15.

The resolution on telecommuting asked that the university, “seek to maximize the use of telecommuting and other alternative work arrangements rather than minimizing them, and that its default position be to grant requests for such arrangements.”

The same resolution highlighted several areas where the university could permit a remote work option, such as employees whose physical presence is not essential to fulfill their jobs, those who might live with a person who is considered at-risk for COVID-19, and employees who may not be able to wear masks or take the necessary precautions for their own health.

“Allowing staff to telecommute, even if they are not at high risk of COVID-19 and do not live with a high-risk person, would send a strong message from the SMU administration to its employees that SMU truly believes that its people are its most important asset,” said Faculty Senate President Aurelie Thiele.

The resolution also asks that the avenue for telecommuting requests be through department chairs, supervisors or deans, not SMU Human Resources.

Should a request be granted, the faculty petitioned that the request would last through the entire Fall 2020 semester instead of a temporary solution, so long as the request is COVID-related.

“We have amazing people working at SMU and the administration should trust that they will do what is right and give their all to SMU while working from their home if they are given the option to work remotely,” Thiele said.

The other resolution passed by the Faculty Senate during the same session, with overwhelming support, was a policy to align requirements for face coverings to run so long as the Centers for Disease Control and/or Dallas County recommend.

According to the resolution, “in a vote of nearly 400 SMU faculty members on June 17, 98% voted that face coverings should be required in class.”

Currently, the university has implemented a policy of mandatory face masks in all classrooms until August 4, in compliance with Dallas County orders.

“SMU is now requiring that everyone on the SMU campus wear a face covering over the mouth and nose in all public indoor spaces. This requirement includes classrooms; building entrances and exits; lobbies and lounges; as well as in hallways, stairwells, restrooms and elevators,” according to a university COVID update.

SMU communication officials say the leadership of the university is currently reviewing the two resolutions.

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