Academic Senate discusses salary conditions and sexual violence

It adopted statements on both topics. Funding for increased doctoral scholarships and a proposal to merge degree programs were also on the agenda.

7 Mar 2023 Tomáš Weissar

At its meeting on 20 February 2023, the Academic Senate of the MU Faculty of Arts discussed the salary situation at faculties of humanities and sciences in the Czech Republic in response to the Association of Deans of Faculties of Arts meeting. The situation at our faculty is relatively good compared to other similar institutions. Still, the discussion also emphasized the need for comparability of salaries for the same positions within the university as a whole. The following statement was finally adopted on the topic:

We express our solidarity with those in the humanities who are undervalued in the valuation of their work and support their efforts to remedy the current situation. At the same time, we are aware of the multifaceted and complex nature of the issue of the status and prestige of the humanities as it is dealt with within individual universities and other scientific institutions, whose autonomy must be respected in this matter. Recognizing that most of the responsibility rests with the proponents of the humanities disciplines themselves, we appeal to the representatives responsible for the state of education and research in the country to approach their evaluation and appreciation with the understanding that the humanities disciplines play a significant role in contemporary society and that their role, along with other disciplines, is important to the overall understanding of the problems in our society and their solutions. It is essential that the humanities disciplines are recognized and included in educational programs to help build a strong and sustainable society based on understanding and respect for diversity, critical thinking, and the ability to communicate effectively with people from different cultural, social, and linguistic backgrounds. These skills are essential for tackling the complex societal challenges we face today, be it climate change, social inequality, poverty, or various forms of injustice.

The social relevance of the humanities and social sciences is therefore unquestionable, not least in the current global situation. It is, therefore, shocking that the social and financial valuation of scientists in these fields is far from corresponding to this. In many respects, this also applies to Masaryk University, and therefore the Academic Senate of the Faculty of Arts joins the calls of other academic senates of philosophical faculties in the Czech Republic and supports the petition "Call for the support of the humanities and social sciences," as well as the activities of the Association of Deans of Philosophical Faculties of the Czech Republic aimed at solving the unequal salary conditions of the academic staff of philosophical faculties and demanding their equalization.

Another important item was a discussion regarding the current investigation of sexual misconduct at the university, which resulted in the following statement:

The Academic Senate of the Faculty of Arts strongly condemns any forms of coercion, violence, and discrimination that violate human dignity and integrity, and especially sexual harassment. At the same time, it expresses full solidarity with all victims of sexual harassment. However, it rejects the idea that part of the solution to this societal problem is to limit the educational tools necessary to fulfill the profile of a graduate. It also considers it unacceptable that, under the pretext of combating discrimination, existing academic freedoms, as formulated in the current version of the Higher Education Act, should be restricted, particularly the autonomy of faculties and the powers of their academic senates, including the right to elect and dismiss deans. Such a move would represent a fundamental retreat from the values on which the ethos of universities was built after 1989 as places of intellectual freedom and bastions of democracy.

In addition, Dr. Jiří Němec was officially welcomed to the meeting, replacing the resigned Dr. Petr Vurm as Senator. The nomination of doc. Šarka Havlíčková Kysová to the Disciplinary Committee of the Faculty of Arts MU was also approved.

Furthermore, the Senate was presented with the plan to merge the two previously separate study programs, Classical Greek Language and Literature, and Latin Language and Literature, into a new study program of Greek and Latin Studies. This is an unprecedented case of merging two separate programs. The Senate approved the plan.

The amended rules of procedure of the Faculty's Scientific Board were also approved, which newly introduced the status of honorary member and also regulated the possibility of holding meetings by distance.

Finally, the issue of the new faculty budget methodology, which places more emphasis on student mobility, was also discussed, especially the funding of the newly increased doctoral scholarships, which this year will go to the departments. However, the situation had been reviewed by the management in advance and the departments should not get into trouble because of this. Further planned increases are expected to be made using faculty reserves. However, in the future, a push for a more selective process of applicants during the admission process can be expected.

The detailed course of the meeting of the Senate is recorded in the minutes.

The next meeting of the Senate will be held on 20 March 2023.

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