Staff Congress keeps voices heard for more than 30 years

Staff Congress, now over 30 years old, met Tuesday to do what it always does: make sure staff voices are heard.

This week, it was about the snow closure and worries about the coming tobacco ban.

Marion Hale, member of Staff Congress, said the purpose of the organization is to help with problems and glitches, from small to large.

“Staff Congress provides students, faculty and staff with representation that they may not otherwise get,” Hale said.

Staff Congress deals with everything from working conditions to the implications of working on a tobacco-free campus for employees who are not the president, a vice president, a dean, a department chair, teaching more than one class or in a tenure tract position. 

When the Board of Regents unanimously approved the creation of Staff Congress on April 27, 1983, amid complaints about staff pay, it was a natural chain of events, said Joyce Gordon, Staff Congress president from 1984-1985.

“It wasn’t anti-anything,” she said. “A couple of regional universities had formed them also. It was more an idea whose time had come.”

Staff Congress’ time did come.

In a letter to Kala Stroup, then-president of Murray State, Gordon wrote that 287 staff members were only making $10,000 a year. Due to budget cuts, the risk was losing another 1.97 percent of their yearly pay.

“Staff members are gravely concerned,” Gordon said.

Shortly after, a working conditions survey was released to all Murray State staff. The results showed about 73 percent were unhappy with their pay and 54 percent felt salaries were unevenly distributed within their department.

President Bob Davies first spoke words of thanks at the most recent meeting to all who helped with the snow closures last week. He also asked for any input on closure processes and what to potentially do differently next time.

The tobacco policy was also brought to the floor.

Board of Regents, Staff Congress, and Faculty Senate all work together to reach out to the Murray State body to address any issues that need to be discussed, such as the impending tobacco ban, said Laura Lohr, current Staff Congress president.

Lohr, also a five-year member of the organization, said Staff Congress and Faculty Senate work as a team. The individual groups work separately on issues that only regard them, but come together on other subjects.

Lohr said the future of the Staff Congress looks to be bright.

“We hope to continue to grow and work together for the better of the whole campus community,” Lohr said. “We collaborate with Faculty Senate to discuss overall issues that affect everyone.”

Gordon said watching Faculty Congress grow and develop from its inception to now has been an exciting experience.

“It’s been very gratifying to me how effective the group has been,” Gordon said. “Throughout the years it has certainly become what we envisioned.”

Story by Amanda Grau, News Editor, and Julia Mazzuca, Staff writer