A group of eight Kansas University graduate-student organizations on Wednesday sent a letter to KU Provost Richard Lariviere asking him to reinstate their voting privileges for new faculty hires.
Lariviere decided last fall, shortly after taking reins as provost, to no longer allow graduate students to take part in the votes within their departments on the hiring of new assistant professors - a practice that had been a tradition in some departments, many of them within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. One reason, Lariviere wrote in an online chat recently with the Journal-World, was that the procedures varied greatly from department to department, and deans had expressed concern about it.
"I made the decision to confine the KU practice to the norms of the profession," he wrote at the time.
In February, he met with graduate students to discuss the issue further. On Wednesday, eight graduate-student groups, from departments including English, sociology, and ecology and evolutionary biology, sent him a letter saying they wanted their votes back.
"I hope to get a response from the provost, and I hope that graduate students will be included when future decisions like this are made," said Erin Questad, a doctoral candidate in ecology and evolutionary biology and a spokeswoman for the group. "I feel like student morale has gotten really low in our department. : I feel like the students are becoming less involved because they don't feel that their thoughts are respected."
Lariviere wasn't available Wednesday for comment. KU spokeswoman Lynn Bretz said Lariviere likely would respond to the students' letter but that he made the decision last fall after thorough discussion with deans.