United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
24 September 2015
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Chapter Meeting Tomorrow Noon in Tampa
Tomorrow Friday the Chapter will meet at 12 noon on USF Tampa in EDU 415. We will be meeting in EDU 415 this semester, except we will meet on USF Sarasota / Manatee on October 9 and on USF St. Petersburg on November 6.
Check us out. Join the movement. Bring a colleague.
UFF Continues its Travel Scholarship Program: All UFF Members are Eligible
The USF Chapter of the UFF will award four $ 500 Travel Scholarships for next spring and summer.
All UFF USF members are eligible for one of four $ 500 travel scholarships to be randomly selected at the December 4 UFF USF Chapter Meeting. Any member may submit a proposal - a proposal being a paragraph describing the professional activity for which the travel scholarship will be applied - to us by campus mail (UFF Membership Committee, 30238 USF Holly Drive) or by email; all proposals must be received by December 3. You may join UFF by December 3 and be eligible to apply. See the travel scholarship flyer.
This initiative is part of our membership campaign. If you would like to become active in the UFF USF Membership Drive, contact the Membership Chair, Adrienne Berarducci.
Join UFF Today!
Download, fill in, and mail the membership form. Benefits of membership include the right to run and vote in UFF chapter and statewide elections; representation in grievances (UFF cannot represent a non-member in a grievance or litigation); special deals in insurance, travel, legal advice, and other packages provided by our affiliates; free insurance coverage for job-related liability; and the knowledge you are supporting education in Florida. Come and join the movement.
If you have been the victim of a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, you have thirty days from the time you knew or should have known of the violation to file a grievance. If you are, and at the time of the violation were, a dues-paying member of the United Faculty of Florida, you have the right to union representation. To contact the UFF USF Grievance Committee, go to the online contact form. For more information, see our web-page on grievances.
Visit Us on Facebook
Visit the United Faculty of Florida at USF Facebook page. This page is a place where UFF members can exchange thoughts and ideas. The page is "public", but only dues-paying UFF members are eligible to post items on the page. If you are a UFF member, ask to join on the page, or contact the Communications Committee. The Committee will invite every UFF member that asks to join. So check us out. UFF members are welcome to join, and non-members are welcome to look.
IN THIS ISSUE
The UFF Senate, Guns, and Student Debt
The UFF Senate sets policy for the United Faculty of Florida, and it meets twice a year. It met in Tampa two weeks ago, under a new president.
- The UFF Senate and Tallahassee. UFF has a new statewide president, and she invited Florida State Senator Jack Latvala to speak to the UFF Senate. For more state politics, see below or click here.
- Guns on Campus Again? The prognosticators are divided. Is there going to be a serious attempt to permit concealed weapons on campuses - or is there going to be a serious attempt to make a media event out of the idea? For more, see below or click here.
- Another View of Student Debt. A new study suggests public institutions like USF are not the source of the student debt problem. For a more, see below or click here.
The UFF Senate and Tallahassee
The Senate of the United Faculty of Florida is the primary policy-making body of the UFF, and it meets twice a year to hear reports, make plans, compose a budget, set policy, that sort of stuff. This year it featured a changing of the guard.
For fourteen years, Tom Auxter of the University of Florida Philosophy department has served as president of the United Faculty of Florida. Seventy percent of the faculty and professionals in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit arrived at USF during those fourteen years (!). This Biweekly was launched when Auxter asked the UFF USF Chapter to maintain an archive on the Al-Arian Affair; the Biweekly started in 2002 as a newsletter on a USF controversy that attracted international attention and gradually evolved into a newsletter on union issues in general.
The big union issue at the beginning of the Biweeky was the reorganization of the State University System planned by then-Governor (now presidential candidate) Jeb Bush, and then-lawyer and political operative (now president of FSU) John Thrasher. This reorganization featured an attempt to get rid of the union.
||Auxter presided over the successful "card campaign" to win legal recognition from the university boards of trustees by collecting the signatures of the majority of the university faculty and professionals in Florida (including 1,053 UFF USF employees) to continue UFF's role as the collective bargaining agent.
After that, Auxter became the leading faculty spokesperson in the state, arguing that Florida needed its colleges and universities in an era of globalization, high technology, and the challenges of the Twenty-first century. This argument gained traction during the last decade, especially in Tampa, which was part of the I-4 Corridor initiative strongly supported by Florida boosters and businessmen.
But recently, as the Tea Party gained power in Tallahassee and politicians lost interest in the Twenty-first century, Auxter put more energy into defending higher education. He decided to step aside last spring, and this was the first UFF Senate presided by his successor, Jennifer Proffitt of Florida State University's School of Communication.
Professor Proffitt invited one of Florida's old elephants to speak to the Senate. Republican Jack Latvala was a Florida senator during the 1990s, and he returned in 2010, and he now represents northern Pinellas county. He started by addressing the "gridlock" in Floridian and national politics, saying that traditionally Republicans and Democrats would govern from the center together - but now extremists on both sides paralyze the process. In particular, he warned of "the amount of influence the Tea Party has and its influence on my party."
Florida Senator Jack Latvala (standing) and UFF President Jennifer Proffitt (seated).
Of the current squabble over redistricting, Latvala was skeptical of the Legislature's ability to generate acceptable maps, and predicted that judges would draw new district lines. And despite recent noise about another attempt to permit concealed guns on campus, he said that the bill had died last year because of vocal opposition and he did not think a similar bill would gain much traction next spring.
Nevertheless, UFF will be watching as bills gel this fall (it's during the fall preceding the legislative session that bills are composed) and go through the process next spring. Stay tuned.
Guns on Campus Again?
Despite Latvala's skepticism about the prospects for conceal-carry-on-campus legislation next spring, there is already some noise in the press about two parallel bills, Senate Bill 68 and House Bill 4001 to permit people with conceal carry permits to carry guns on campus. Both bills have been supported by their respective Criminal Justice subcommittees and are now moving to their respective Higher Education Committees.
The bills are strongly supported by the National Rifle Association, and NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer said that campuses "...are gun-free zones where murderers, rapists and shooters can commit crimes without fear of being harmed by their victims." The bill is opposed by university and college administrations, student organizations, and police chiefs. UFF fought the previous bills last spring, and at the Senate meeting, the Senate passed a resolution opposing the bills.
Another View of Student Debt
In the 27 August 2015 Biweekly, we noted Wallethub's recent survey concluding that there is $ 1.19 trillion in outstanding student debt, and the USF Oracle has reported that debt for loans to pay tuition and fees is a major issue for students.
But for people who worry about investment bubbles, the question would be how much of that is debt that is not being paid off. The Wall Street Journal observed that over the past decade, seven million people have fallen at least a year behind on their student debt payments. We are now talking about students who graduate and then fail to get enough income to keep up their payments.
A paper recently presented to the Brookings Institute argues that, when focusing on default rates, the problem "...is concentrated among borrowers from for-profit schools and, to a lesser extent, 2-year institutions," while "...the majority of undergraduate and graduate borrowers from 4-year public and private (non-profit) institutions, or 'traditional borrowers' experience strong labor market outcomes and low rates of default, despite having the largest loan balances and facing the severe headwinds of the recent recession." Students at institutions like USF get deeper into debt, but they manage to pay it off - because they get better jobs.
Of course, this addresses the stress former students feel after graduation, not the stress that current students feel. But especially after recent financial messes in for-profit academia, it suggests that the non-profit models are not as obsolete as some politicians and pundits suggest.
Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, September 25, at on USF Tampa, in EDU 415.
There will be sandwiches, chips, and drinks. All UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. Come and join the movement.
Membership: Everyone in the UFF USF System Bargaining unit is eligible for UFF membership: to join, simply fill out and send in the membership form.
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