It Matters - Vol. 2, No. 2 - September 2012
On a search committee? Read this!
The Office of Equity, Diversity and Compliance (EDC) oversees the EPA hiring process, which commences when the hiring official charges each search committee with its official responsibilities. Because the majority of searches for new faculty and EPA administrative personnel are conducted during fall semester each year, a number of search committees are currently hard at work in the recruitment and selection process.
A number of Appalachian employees have attended one of the seven EPA hiring information sessions offered by EDC this month. For individuals who were not able to attend, or those who have just learned (or are about to learn) that they will be serving as a chair or a member of a search committee, EDC has put together this list of common questions and answers about the search process that we think will be helpful to you before you begin your work.
If you have a question we've not answered here, please call us at 262-2144 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll do our best to answer it and possibly even add it to the list.
What is the difference between Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity?
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) requires the university to provide equal access to employment opportunities for all applicants and employees regardless of race, sex, color, creed, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, political affiliation, disability, genetic information and veteran status. Affirmative Action (AA) requires the university to act affirmatively – to take positive steps – to examine its employment policies and practices to ensure that there are no barriers to equal employment opportunity. Affirmative Action also places responsibility on search committees to develop comprehensive recruitment plans to attract applications from qualified individuals who are from populations that are underrepresented at Appalachian.
Does Affirmative Action require search committees to give preference to individuals from underrepresented groups when making hiring decisions?
No. Search committees should not give preferential treatment to individuals from underrepresented groups. The principles of AA require that all applicants be evaluated equally without regard to their protected class status. The heart of AA involves aggressive outreach and recruitment efforts by search committees and hiring units. When making a hiring decision, the search committee must choose the best candidate based on his or her skills, experience, and education. Positive consideration may be given to individuals who have experience working with diverse populations and/or have life experiences that will support the university's goal of preparing students to thrive in a diverse and global society.
What is the role of the Equal Opportunity Associate (EOA) in academic departments?
The Equal Opportunity Associate (EOA) serves as a liaison between the Office of Equity, Diversity and Compliance (EDC) and an academic department, and assists search committees with achieving the AA/EEO objectives of the university. The EOA assists a department with a review of market availability data, an evaluation of hiring needs, and the development of comprehensive recruitment plans for searches.
Where does the university post job announcements?
EDC posts all EPA job announcements in three (3) online locations: Appalachian HRS site, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and the North Carolina Employment Security Commission. The university pays for these advertisements; all other advertising costs must be covered by the unit, department or college that is conducting the search.
How many people should be on a search committee?
The hiring official should appoint at least three people to a search committee.
When may search committees begin looking at applications?
Search committees may begin looking at applications on the date listed in the job announcement. For example, "Review of applications will begin on October 3, 2012, and will continue until the position is filled." The committee must continue to review all applications and give them full consideration until the position is filled.
When should reference checks take place?
Reference checks (both indicated and non-indicated) should be done before a candidate comes to campus. The chair of the search committee must obtain written permission from the candidate before reference checks are done.
When may search committees share application materials with others in the department/unit?
Search committees must obtain written permission from applicants before sharing application materials with others who are not on the search committee. Written permission may be obtained by e-mail.
Why are search committees prohibited from seeing the Affirmative Action Data Request Forms that are completed by applicants?
The Affirmative Action Data Request Form (AADRF) requests information about an applicant's race, ethnicity and sex. The information is used to comply with federal reporting requirements as well as to assess the effectiveness of the university's recruitment efforts to attract diverse applicants. Applicants are informed that the information will be kept separate from their application materials. In order to protect the integrity of the application process and ensure that the AADRF information does not influence hiring decisions, the information is kept confidential in EDC. However, a summary of the information regarding the applicant pool may be shared with the search committee.
When are criminal background checks done?
A criminal background check is done once an applicant has accepted an offer of hire. Employment is conditioned upon the university's receipt of a satisfactory criminal background report.
When should applicants be notified that they are no longer under consideration?
Applicants may be notified in writing after the search committee has voted to eliminate them from further consideration. The notification may occur in stages throughout the selection process. However, applicants or candidates who are being held in reserve for consideration if the top finalists are unsuccessful should not be notified until a final selection has been made by the committee.
Whom do I contact to have a job announcement removed from the HRS web site after a position has been filled?
After a search is concluded, the chair of a search committee should contact Amy Carson (email@example.com or 262-2144) in EDC to report whether the position has been filled or the search has failed, and to request that the job announcement be removed from the HRS web site.
Where do the search files go once the search is concluded?
All search documents are archived for three years in Records Management, a division of University Archives and Records (Ext. 4040; firstname.lastname@example.org). Step-by-step instructions for preparing the search files are on the EDC web site at http://collections.library.appstate.edu/archives/searchcommittee.html. The Records Management staff will deliver official storage boxes and labels to your office, and pick them up again when they are ready for transfer.
Religious Observances on Campus
Student absences for religious observances
Many university and national holidays coincide with the major religious observances of Christianity. However, the university must accommodate "sincerely held religious beliefs" for a broad spectrum of religious beliefs and practices - not merely beliefs of recognized or accepted religions and religious practices. The world's major religions include Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Paganism, Shinto, Sikhism and Taoism. Generally, courts will not question the sincerity or religiosity of someone's belief. The university is not required to accommodate political, cultural, traditional or other beliefs that are unrelated to religion.
The "New Attendance Policy," Section 188.8.131.52 of the Faculty Handbook, states, in part:
It is the policy of Appalachian State University that class attendance is an important part of a student's educational experience. Students are expected to attend every meeting of their classes and are responsible for class attendance. Since attendance policies vary from professor to professor, students should refer to the course syllabus for detailed information. Regardless of what reasons there may be for absence, students are accountable for all academic activities, and faculty may require special work or tests to make up for the missed class or classes.
In addition, faculty members are required to make reasonable accommodations for students requesting to miss class due to the observance of religious holidays. All ASU students are allowed a minimum of two absences per year for religious observances. Up to two absences for such observances will be excused, without penalty to the student, provided that the student has informed the instructor in the manner specified in the syllabus. Notice must be given by the student to the instructor before the absence occurs and no later than three weeks after the start of the semester in which the absence(s) will occur. Arrangements will be made to make up work missed by these religious observances, without penalty to the student. For the purposes of this policy, ASU defines the term "religious observance" to include religious holidays, holy days, or similar observances associated with a student's faith that require absence from class.
For additional information from the Office of Academic Affairs, visit http://academicaffairs.appstate.edu/syllabi.
Employee absences for religious observances
The Office of State Personnel "Personnel Policy, Section 5: Leave, Holidays" (http://www.osp.state.nc.us/manuals/5_Leave/holiday.htm) states, in part, that:
The agency shall make efforts to accommodate an employee's request to be away from work for certain religious holiday observances; however, nothing shall obligate the agency to make accommodation if, in accommodating the request, it would result in undue hardship on the agency or its employees.
The following factors shall be considered in accommodating religious holidays:
- the accommodation creates no greater risk to the health and safety of the employee, fellow employees, or the general public;
- by accommodating the unscheduled religious holiday, expenses to the State will not increase;
- meaningful work can be provided under the circumstances in which the employee will be working; and
- supervision can be provided if deemed necessary.
Religious holidays shall be accommodated by:
- adjusting the work schedule of the employee to the extent that it does not significantly impact the rights of other employees, or
- allowing the employee to exchange another State government public holiday for the religious holiday. The unscheduled religious holiday and the State government public holiday shall occur in the same calendar year.
If the religious holidays cannot be accommodated by the above, the Vacation Policy shall be used. If an employee has accrued vacation leave, no request for vacation leave shall be denied unless it would create an emergency condition which cannot be prevented in any other manner.
As is the case with students, the religious observances of employees of all religious faiths must be considered, not just those who practice the common or accepted religious faiths.
Information Regarding Testing Accommodations
Reasonable testing accommodations provide equal opportunity and ensure that tests are accessible to students with disabilities. In accordance with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the university is responsible for providing such reasonable accommodations. Reasonable testing accommodations are determined by the Office of Disability Services (ODS) based on documentation provided by an individual of the current functional limitations of a disability. Reasonable testing accommodations may include, but are not limited to, a distraction-reduced testing environment, extended time, assistive technology, and/or alternate format.
If testing accommodations have been determined to be reasonable by ODS, a student cannot be denied the right to utilize them. Students have the right to take tests at the same time and in the same manner as their classroom peers who do not have disabilities.
After ODS determines reasonable testing accommodations:
- Students are responsible for requesting copies of their Accommodation Plans which outlines approved testing accommodations.
- Students are responsible for sharing and discussing their Accommodation Plans with instructors.
- Instructors and students are jointly responsible for making arrangements for how testing accommodations will be provided.
- Instructors are encouraged to contact ODS if they believe requested accommodations are not reasonable or fundamentally alter the course.
The ODS Alternate Testing Program
ODS operates an Alternate Testing Program for use during operating hours. Many universities do not have an alternate testing program and, therefore, the responsibility to provide approved reasonable accommodations falls upon the instructors. If the Alternate Testing Program (ATP) is not open during the time
a test is scheduled, the student who needs testing accommodations should be offered the option to have the instructor provide the accommodation or to take the test at an alternate time during ATP operating hours. An Alternate Testing Request Form is required 48 hours in advance of the scheduled test for each test to be taken with ODS. More in-depth information regarding the ATP and/or Alternate Testing Request Forms can be found at www.ods.appstate.edu or at ODS (Suite 003, Anne Belk Hall).
Two 20-hour per week graduate students coordinate the tests administered through ODS; therefore, the ATP is available 40 hours per week. Operating hours vary each semester and are posted on the website. During the 2011-2012 academic year, ODS proctored over 830 tests.
Faculty Proctored Exams
Students may make arrangements with instructors to take tests in the building/department where the class is held. This option is contingent on the availability of both space and instructors to monitor the testing. The student is responsible for discussing how to make such arrangements with the instructor as early in the semester as possible and prior to the test date. ODS has a new form (Accommodation Testing Request Form To Take Test with Instructor) which is optional. This form is intended to help students take tests with accommodations provided by the instructor within the classroom, building or department. This form can be found at www.ods.appstate.edu or at ODS.
Instructors proctoring exams should be aware of the following:
- Instructors must be prepared to provide students with the full extended amount of time approved by ODS. If class is 50 minutes, the student is to receive the approved extended time, even if the exam was created to only take 15 minutes. If a student arrives late to the arranged start time, the arranged finish time need not be modified.
- A distraction-reduced environment (DRE) is defined as a setting with reduced auditory and visual stimuli and minimal interruptions.
Office of Equity, Diversity and Compliance
123 I.G. Greer Hall
Boone, NC, 28608 USA