P&S Council backs anti-bullying effort, considers training request

The Professional and Scientific Council supports establishing a campuswide anti-bullying policy and might ask the university to offer staff a training program about discussing difficult matters.

The motions were among several the council passed at its June 6 meeting, its last of the year before new members and officers take on their 2019-20 roles at the end of the month.

In a first reading that will come up for final approval in July, the council heard a motion requesting that staff be offered Crucial Conversations training beginning in January 2020. The intensive two-day program aims to make talking about sensitive subjects more constructive. The request is meant to address the council's long-standing goal to improve supervisor training.

Incoming president-elect Sara Parris said she has participated in Crucial Conversations training and recommends it.

"It gave me a lot of the tools I need to be a good supervisor, a good co-worker," Parris said. "Supervisors need to be able to deliver tough messages in a kind and caring way, and people also need to be able to understand how to receive those."

ISU Extension and Outreach offers the $250-per-person program to its staff, county extension councils and volunteers a few times a year, but due to licensing rules, extension and outreach can't make the course available to other university employees.  

Anti-bullying effort

The council approved a motion to work with the policy library advisory committee and Faculty Senate to create, without infringing on academic freedom and free-speech rights, a policy prohibiting workplace and classroom bullying.

The senate passed a resolution calling for an anti-bullying policy at its January meeting.

Council president Stacy Renfro noted that the university ombuds also has recommended something similar based on her experiences with staff and other employees, writing in the ombuds office's FY2018 report that Iowa State should, "Refine policies regarding hostile work environments, harassment or harassing behavior exhibited by a supervisor or colleague that is not related to protected class."

Other business

Councilors passed motions endorsing proposed minor, Workday-related changes to university policies on salary adjustments and nonexempt time reporting.

The council also approved a motion endorsing proposed changes to the hiring and employment policy and related guidelines. At its May meeting, the council delayed voting on the hiring and employment policy and the guidelines to provide constituents more time for feedback. Parris said university human resources is working to address the clarifications the council requested on the hiring and employment policy.

Council members also approved a motion to form a committee to seek ways to make its meeting spaces and events more inclusive.