Why is the Staff Senate holding elections?
In the past, members of the VCU staff community have been able to join the Staff Senate through self-nomination or through school or departmental appointments. This has led to some meta-units being under- or over-represented within the senate.
In order to facilitate greater meta-unit representation and diversity on the Staff Senate, the senate will host elections in late spring/early summer 2021. In addition to being more reflective of VCU’s staff, the senate will also grow in size to roughly 80 members.
With greater representation and diversity, the Staff Senate will be a more effective voice in advocating on behalf of staff and in working with VCU senior leadership on issues of concern to staff.
When will the elections take place?
The elections process will occur in two phases: a candidate nomination phase, which will begin June 1 and end June 25; and the elections phase, which will begin July 19 and end July 31.
During the candidate nomination phase, VCU staff members will be able to nominate either themselves or other full-time staff members to serve in the Staff Senate. There is no limit to the number of nominees a meta-unit may put forward.
During the election phase, VCU staff members will be able to vote for candidates nominated within their meta-unit to represent them. Each meta-unit is granted a proportionate number of seats in the Staff Senate based on the number of employees within the unit, and ranked-choice voting will be used to elect incoming senators.
If current Staff Senators already fill all seats for a particular meta-unit, then an additional seat will be added so that the meta-unit may hold an election for any interested staff members.
Any unfilled seats at the end of the election will be allocated “at-large” to any interested staff volunteers.
Following the election, the newly elected senators will take office at the August 2021 Staff Senate meeting.
Who is eligible to run in the elections? And who is eligible to vote?
Any classified or University and Academic Professional staff person at VCU with at least one year of service is eligible to serve in the Staff Senate. All non-faculty, full-time staff, regardless of service time will be eligible to vote in the elections.
Can VCU Health staff run in the elections?
At this time, only VCU classified and University and Academic Professional staff may run in the elections, however, VCU Health staff have always been a valued part of the Staff Senate. Currently VCU Health staff serve as volunteer non-voting members of the Staff Senate and that will continue under the new model.
The Staff Senate also has an established VCU Health Committee for supporting the concerns of VCU Health employees. The Staff Senate president and the chair/s of the VCU Health Committee meet with Dr. Arthur Kellermann quarterly to discuss the issues surrounding VCU Health employees and how best to provide additional support, guidance, development and more.
Can VCU Health staff vote in the elections?
At this time, only VCU classified and University and Academic Professional staff are able to vote in the elections.
Who exactly will elected Staff Senators represent? Will they represent a certain part of VCU?
Each major business unit (MBU) at VCU is sorted into a “meta-unit” which will serve as “districts” for the purposes of this election. Meta-units are assigned one senate seat per 50 full-time staff employees.
Meta-units may nominate as many individuals as they please.
Ranked-choice voting will be used to determine the outcome of the elections. What is that?
Ranked-choice voting is a system of voting in which voters rank candidates by preference. If a candidate receives a majority of first preference votes, then that candidate wins. If no candidates on a ballot receive a majority, then the winners are decided based on the proportionality of first or second preference votes that they received.
Ranked-choice voting will allow the Staff Senate to have many different candidates on a ballot and avoid the need for holding separate runoff elections. For meta-units that have many staff members, it will enable many different candidates to run in the same election.
I’m considering running for Staff Senate. What do Staff Senators do?
The Staff Senate is the voice of VCU staff members. Senators gather monthly for a general meeting and serve on various committees, which focus on career development, awards and recognition, accessibility and inclusion, VCU Health and shared governance. Senators also represent staff on a variety of important committees, such as University Council.
Staff Senators advocate on behalf of classified and University and Academic Professional staff and communicate their ideas and concerns to VCU and VCU Health administration and the VCU community.
Staff Senators also foster professional development and career opportunities among the staff, across both VCU and VCU Health. For example, the Staff Senate partners with VCU Human Resources to organize and host an annual career development conference.
Staff Senators also play an important role in celebrating and recognizing staff at VCU and VCU Health, hosting the annual Staff Senate Awards for Excellence and an annual Employee Appreciation celebration that provides staff with an array of discounts and other benefits.
How long is a term for elected Staff Senators?
Every Staff Senator serves for a three-year term.
What’s the general time commitment for being a senator?
It depends on how much you're willing and able to take on, but each senator attends a monthly general meeting that usually lasts an hour-and-a-half and also serves on at least one committee that typically meets once a month.
Once elected, are new senators appointed to Staff Senate committees, or do they have the opportunity to choose the committees they’re most interested in?
Senators are encouraged to choose the committees they’re most interested in. All senators must participate in at least one committee, so if new senators have no committee preference, they will be appointed to one.
When the elections open, how will I vote?
VCU classified and University and Academic Professional staff will vote through a Google Form for their particular meta-unit. Ballots will be anonymized and confidential.
How do I find out who is on my ballot?
Please visit your meta-unit page after the nomination period. To find your meta-unit, please click on your associated major business unit (MBU) on the homepage.
Which meta-unit am I in?
To find your meta-unit, visit the election home page and click on your associated major business unit (MBU).
How does the new voting plan for VCU’s Staff Senate compare to similar bodies at other universities?
Other universities that the VCU Staff Senate has surveyed have a variety of practices. Some have elections; some don’t. Some have a combination of elections and appointments. But elections seem to be the direction in which many are headed, for the sake of enhancing democracy and transparency.