Pubdate: Fri, 31 Oct 2003
Source: Emory Wheel, The (Emory U, GA Edu)
Copyright: 2003 The Emory Wheel
Author: Arielle Kass
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


Wagner Hopes To Implement Proposal By January 2004

A proposal limiting the drug testing of new staff to those only in 
safety-sensitive jobs unanimously passed the University Senate Tuesday. 
Emory's president said he would make it policy.

The Senate's proposal, which is only a recommendation, comes after more 
than a year and a half of debate on the issue of pre-employment drug 
testing. It would reverse current policy, which mandates the testing of all 
new staff before they are hired, but exempts faculty and students.

University President James W. Wagner, who will receive the Senate's 
recommendation, said he expects it will be implemented by the first of next 

"I will be pleased to sign the proposal," Wagner said. "It is one of my 
first real actions in office, and I feel very good."

The Senate's proposal does not distinguish by title, but rather looks at 
job descriptions. Both faculty and staff may be tested if in the routine 
course of their job functions, they perform safety-sensitive work. This 
includes operators of heavy equipment, drivers of University vehicles, 
providers of campus security, those who provide animal and patient care and 
all Emory Healthcare employees. Students applying for such jobs will also 
be tested, as will current University employees who transfer to such jobs 
within Emory.

Senate President-Elect Sharon Strocchia, who chaired the committee 
addressing the drug testing policy, said the proposal allows some "wiggle 
room" for positions that have been overlooked or have not yet been created. 
Still, it compresses the overly broad policy that is now in place.

"Job function is the heart and soul of this particular policy," she said.

A previous recommendation by the Senate was rejected in June by 
then-University President William M. Chace. It called for two levels of 
testing, allowing individual divisions to test with Senate approval, while 
not requiring all staffers to take the test.

Strocchia said the changes have made for a more cohesive policy.

"There's a logic to it that it didn't have before," she said.

Employee Council President Don Newsome said the compromise brought to Chace 
was unreasonable because it discriminated among University divisions. That 
policy passed the Senate 19-7, but was a cumbersome compromise between the 
Senate and the administration that put the policy in place.

University General Counsel Kent Alexander said both he and Executive Vice 
President of Finance and Administration Michael Mandl were part of the 
process for the current proposal and worked with the committee throughout.

"We're on board with this," he said.

Strocchia said the committee's progress in implementing the policy was very 
consultative with the administration. In the past, the committee had worked 
in isolation.

Senate President John Snarey said he was "thrilled" that the proposal 
passed so easily. Carter Center employee Gabrielle Mertz, who was an early 
opponent of the blanket policy, said she thought the decision appeared to 
be a "smart" one. And Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life John 
Ford, who was in favor of testing for Campus Life, said his division "would 
want to live up to the letter and the spirit" of the new policy.

"Our position is to go along with whatever is recommended to the rest of 
the University," he said.

Alice Miller, vice president for Human Resources, said the change 
represents the emerging vision of the University in providing a "very 
values-based" decision. She said the revision reflects better input over time.

Newsome said he feels confident about the proposed policy.

"It was a grassroots effort that evolved," he said. "It considers job 
functions rather
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom