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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
19 November 2015
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Every December, the West Central Florida Federation of Labor (an alliance of local unions, including the USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida) conducts a Holiday Toy Drive for children ages 0-17 who are going through hard times. This year, the Federation of Labor is conducting a toy drive for children being helped by the Children's Home Society of Florida. The Federation of Labor is asking for donations of new, unwrapped toys: for hints, see their Holiday Wish List.

The USF Chapter of UFF is collecting toys for the drive, and anyone wishing to make a donation can bring a toy to the Chapter Meeting tomorrow (Friday) at 12 noon on USF Tampa in EDU 415. EVERYONE IS INVITED, UFF members and non-members alike. There will be sandwiches, drinks, snacks, and cookies.

We will also collect toys at the last Chapter Meeting of the semester, on Friday, December 4, at 12 noon in EDU 415. Once again, EVERYONE IS INVITED, UFF members and non-members alike, and once again, there will be sandwiches, drinks, snacks, and cookies.

Alternatively, UFF members who like holiday parties are invited to the Central Labor Council's Holiday Social on Tuesday, December 1, at 6:30 pm at the IBEW 824 [International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local 824] building at 6603 E. Chelsea Street in Tampa; the Holiday Toy Drive organizers will be collecting toys there, too.

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.



For many reasons - in particular, a critical mass of scholars and engaged young people - colleges and universities are places where America's problems become quite visible. Recent protests against racial problems at the University of Missouri got a lot of attention, and students at other campuses launched similar protests while university administrations tried to calm the waters. In this issue, we take a brief look.

  • The News from Missouri. The headline was that the president stepped down after the football team went on strike, but that was merely the headline. For a brief account of events, see below or click here.
  • Missouri Backstory. Missouri is an ambitious university with a past and a present, and in some ways, this is a cautionary tale of eyes forward on the goal versus eyes down, watching one's step. For details, see below or click here.
Meanwhile, the Holiday Season is upon us, and the West Central Florida Federation of Labor is conducting its annual toy drive for children going through hard times. For information, see the announcement in the left column. We will be collecting toys at the next two chapter meetings, to which EVERYONE is invited.

Meanwhile, a Happy Thanksgiving to all!

The News from Missouri

It began at the University of Missouri (UM) with a series of micro-aggressions, and when the president of the Missouri Students Association (MSA) posted a candid account of some of them, it went viral. Then a student demonstration was interrupted, and someone drew a swastika using feces. And when graduate student Jonathan Butler attempted to confront UM system President Tim Wolfe, Wolfe sat back and let the police handle it.

(The University of Missouri is a system whose flagship campus is at Columbia. Wolfe was the president of the system, and the chancellor of Columbia campus was R. Bowen Loftin.)

Ferguson, Missouri, is about two hours away from Columbia campus, and the Executive Committee of Missouri Students Association wrote a letter to the UM system Board of Curators beginning with: "In August of 2014, the University of Missouri met the shooting of Mike Brown with silence...Over the last sixteen months, the quality of life for our students has only worsened." They concluded that Wolfe had failed and demanded his immediate removal. Meanwhile, a group of students had organized the Twitter account ConcernedStudent1950 (commemorating the year UM was integrated: "we seek liberation of BLACK collegiate students!") and issued a List of Demands. And Butler announced he would go on a hunger strike until Wolfe resigned.

Then the football team, the Tigers, struck in support of Mr. Butler, and their coach supported them. Wolfe's response was positive, but bureaucratic. That was not enough. On November 9, Wolfe resigned, stating that "...why did we get to this very difficult situation[?] It is my belief we stopped listening to each other. We didn't respond or react. We got frustrated with each other, and we forced individuals like Jonathan Butler to take immediate action and unusual steps to effect change." He took full responsibility for the communication breakdown. UM Columbia campus Chancellor Loftin also resigned after nine deans wrote a letter to the Board of Curators asking for his dismissal; administrators around the country told Inside Higher Ed that the UM leadership failed to respond effectively to a snowballing crisis.

UM is now picking up the pieces. The Board of Curators appointed an African American alumnus to be interim president and is vowing reforms. Meanwhile, two students - one from MU - were charged for making threats against African Americans on Yik Yak.

Reverberations are crossing the country. The Dean of Students at Claremont McKenna College in California resigned amidst similar protests, and a debate about Hallowe'en costumes sparked protests at Yale. More ominously, there were online threats against students at Howard University. More recently, there have been protests at Occidental College, Iowa State University, Niagara University, the University of South Carolina, and 17 colleges in Boston.

The media is now full of pundits preaching to their respective choirs (one of the major concerns was erosion of free speech). And of course, presidential candidates couldn't resist. Jeb Bush said, "As I understand it, [Wolfe] didn't respond to legitimate concerns of acts of racism on campus, and may have missed an opportunity to try and heal the wounds..." Ben Carson thought that the student behavior was "infantile." Hillary Clinton retweeted that "Racism has no place anywhere, let alone an institution of learning." Bernie Sanders tweeted that "It's time to address structural racism on college campuses." And Donald Trump thought that the resignations were "disgusting."

One of the major criticisms of the UM leadership was its reactive approach. In contrast, some students, faculty and administrations are getting proactive on the issue. For example, last Thursday, USF students collected at the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza to talk about racial and other issues at USF, and President Genshaft sent a letter to the USF community: "College and university campuses have a special role in society as the very place where the ideals of equality, inclusion, acceptance and free discourse are encouraged to thrive."

The overt problem were the micro-aggressions, but one USF student's comment - "You hear it in comments or the undertones of a conversation, or walking into a classroom and being the only person that looks like you, walking into a job interview and wondering if the questions you’re being asked are asked of other candidates" - suggests not being hostile might not be enough. University of Virginia English Professor Mark Edmundson proposed a positive approach to diversity: instead of "Don't be this! Don't be that!" we try a more positive "Be friendly. Try to be open. Learn from other people. Treat them fairly. Don't let prejudices get in the way of a good time."

For more, see the overview by the editor of Inside Higher Ed.

Missouri Backstory

As all scholars know, context matters. Founded in 1839, the University of Missouri (a.k.a. Mizzou) is a Research I university and member of the American Association of Universities (the USF Administration aspires to AAU membership). In 1890, UM's new football team were named the Tigers, after the Fighting Tigers of Columbia, a militia that had defended the city and the university during the Civil War.

In 1935, Lloyd Gaines, an African-American, was denied admission to UM's law school. He sued and won in the Supreme Court, which ruled that Missouri had failed to even provide a separate (and, ahem, equal) law school for African Americans. (This case is regarded as a major step towards the Brown v. Topeka decision that got rid of the "separate but equal" doctrine.) But Gaines then disappeared, and it took another decade of legal battles before African Americans were admitted in 1950 (here is a retrospective from one of them). Two African Americans joined the Tigers in 1958.

UM's Diversity Timeline suggests an increasing effort to remove institutional racism and obstacles to historically marginalized groups. Culture is another matter: many student complaints concern micro-aggressions from other people in the community, or even outside of the university (colleges and universities have long histories of "Town / Gown" tensions). Dealing with cultural problems requires a level of sustained attention, and UM had a history of racial tensions to attend to.

The UM Administration may have been distracted. Last summer, the University of Missouri tried to cancel health subsidies for graduate students, blaming Obamacare, discontinued clinical privileges for a doctor who preformed abortions and then got entangled in controversies over Planned Parenthood, and finally the Missouri legislature barred undocumented aliens from getting state scholarships, not to mention cutting tuition waivers for graduate students and the sudden departure of the Dean of Medicine. This on top of the legislature's attempt to cut education funding. And UM system President Wolfe was a senior executive for a sequence of computer companies before becoming UM president and moving UM in a new (financially driven) direction - starting with shutting down the UM press (decision reversed) and upgrading sports facilities.

Meanwhile, Ferguson is less than two hours down I-70. Looking backwards, PBS found several UM people seeing the protests as a post-Ferguson reverberation - a reminder that universities are affected by what happens off-campus.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, November 20, 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.

NOTE: The USF-UFF Chapter website is http://www.uff.ourusf.org, and our e-mail address is uff@ourusf.org.

About this broadcast: This Newsletter was broadcast from uff.ourusf.org, hosted at ICDsoft.com, and is intended for all members of the UFF USF Bargaining unit (USF faculty and professionals at most departments). A (usually identical) version will be broadcast to USF-News and USF-Talk from mccolm@usf.edu.

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