A university “policy on policies” says that UW-Milwaukee must review its policies every three years. However, it turns out that some university policies have not been looked at for years – in one case, more than four decades.
The Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) on campus is trying to fix that. The policies are no small matter; university policies govern everything from employment eligibility verifications to domestic partnerships.
PAC met on March 25 to start the process. According to board member Carolyn Arnold, PAC is revising and editing the policies so that they are in compliance with the “UWM Policy on the Creation of University Policies.”
This document says that all university policies must follow the law, mandate something, be applicable to the whole university, and enhance the mission of the university. This policy was created in 2007 and is also under revision by PAC. This also states that all policies are supposed to be reviewed every three years.
“We noticed that many of the policies hadn’t been reviewed in 10 or more years. Some even 30 plus years,” Arnold said.
Some of the policies have not been looked at in 41 years. According to the office of Assessment and Institutional research’s “Fact Book” that is double the age of about 30 percent of the UWM population.
At this meeting, the PAC discussed a number of policies and the most heated discussion focused on two of them: “Domestic Partnership Polices and Procures” and “Employment Eligibility Verification.”
The employment verification policy was created in 1996 and revised in 1997. This policy is meant to check the citizenship status of an employee before they can be hired by the university. The reason this policy had so much discussion around it was because, according to PAC’s legal consultant, it reiterates state law. Because of this the board was wondering if they even need the policy if it is state law. The board sent it to Human Resources (HR) for review.
The Domestic Partnership policy was created in 2003 and has not been looked at since. This policy was created to lay out benefits for student and employee couples with a domestic partnership. It lays out services and benefits such as the children’s center, dental care, employee assistance program, the Klotsche center and library accessibility for partners and their families.
It also discusses student health insurance and employment. This topic was discussed intently because it has changed quite a bit since its conception. The new place to go for information is to a website on the HR department’s website. The board’s legal counsel said that it would be best to have a statement of acceptance with a link to the HR department’s website. PAC sent it out to HR for review.
PAC is working on sending out each of the 89 policies to departments around campus for review and revision. PAC is in-charge of finding a representative to initiate and edit the policy. They must also find a party responsible for making sure the policy is initiated.
The oldest policy’s creation dates back to January of 1973. This document was not revised until this past fall. It detailed the instructions for requirements for depositing of university receipts. This may not be anything that affects the average student but there are other policies such as “Accommodation of Religious Beliefs,” “Death or Serious Injury of a Student,” “Drop, Withdrawal, and Repeat Policy for Courses,” and “Grade Appeals by Students.”
Of the policies looked at so far only four of the 55 are ready for use and have been revised by the board. Four of the policies have been eliminated so far. The policies are: “Employee Workplace Violence”, “Student Discrimination Complaints”, “AIDS Policy and Guidelines”, “Interinstitutional Recuing and Appointments.” These where eliminated because they were redundant with other policies that are in place. Most are still awaiting the go-ahead from Legal Affairs or have not been reviewed by the initiator or responsible parties.
This process started in September of 2013. “We started discussing it last year  though,” said Arnold. Arnold said that it has taken a long time to get this whole process started but the policies will be more accurate and better suit UWM.
Trudy Turner, a board member of PAC, said that the board was hopping to finish all of the distributing by June of this year. At the end of the March 25, meeting the group agreed there was no way that they were going to finish distributing all of the policies by then. The group hopes to be done with all the revisions by the end of next year.