UFF Home
UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
4 October 2018
Email not displaying properly? View it in your browser


Sexual Harassment Training

Sexual harassment is increasingly in the news. It probably isn't that sexual harassment is a growing problem or even that we are growing more aware of it. Most likely, it's that we are taking it more seriously. As a matter of policy, USF takes sexual harassment very seriously. By now, USF employees should have received an email from the USF Division of Human Relations advising employees that they are required to complete an online module on sexual harassment and discrimination by October 31.

  • Sexual Harassment Training. The online module is primarily concerned with the legalities of sexual harassment - there is very little on discrimination in the module. But speaking of legalities, it is not entirely clear what the status of the module itself is. For details, see below or click here.
Meanwhile, the UFF USF Biweekly continues to run accounts by recipients of the travel scholarships.
  • Native American Mound Builders. The extensive earthworks constructed by Native Americans in the Mississippi valley are beginning to get media attention, and dating of precursors in Georgia have been confirmed. For details, see below or click here.
As mentioned in the last UFF USF Biweekly, the UFF Senate, the primary policy- and decision-making body of the United Faculty of Florida, met in Tampa two weeks ago. A number of issues came up, like Florida Polytechnic University: UFF gave a Hero of the Year Award to Christine Drake, one of four faculty (among fourteen employees) terminated by the FPU Administration in its increasingly hysterical reaction to having a union on campus. But perhaps the biggest concern was the fall election.

There are 33 days until the General Election on November 6. Are you registered to vote? There are five days until the October 9 deadline to register. UFF strongly encourages all eligible and registered voters to vote. For more information, consult the Florida Division of Elections or, for information about voting in your county, consult your friendly neighborhood supervisor of elections:

There was a discussion at the UFF Senate about encouraging students to vote, and some suggested that faculty could encourage students by example and vote at on-campus early voting sites. Early voting days may vary county-by-county, but all counties will have early voting during October 27 - November 3. In particular, Hillsborough County will have early voting at the USF Yuengling Center October 22 - November 4, from 7 am to 7 pm.

Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on USF Tampa

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at noon on USF Tampa in EDU 261. There will be sandwiches, snacks, drinks, and sweets. On the agenda: bargaining, consolidating USF, recruiting new members, political action (this is an election year), and the sexual harassment quiz. Come join the movement.

This fall, we will meet on October 5 & 19, November 2, 16 & 30. The The November 2 meeting is on USF Sarasota / Manatee. The other meetings will be on USF Tampa in EDU 261. Come and check us out.

Social in St. Petersburg October 23 at Ferg's

UFF invites everyone to an Autumn Social on Thursday, October 23 at Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill at 1320 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, northwest of USF St. Petersburg. We will be in the upstairs room. Come talk to union bigwigs about the hot issues, like consolidation.

Hallowe'en Party Coming Up

Mark your calendars: the USF Chapter will hold a Hallowe'en Party on October 31 on USF Tampa in the Marshall Student Center, in the Sabal Room, on the third floor, to the right and around the corner from Top of the Palms. Free buffet lunch; costumes optional.

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; see also the main article (left).

$ 500 Travel Grants for UFF Members

The USF Chapter of the UFF will award six $ 500 Travel Scholarships for next spring and summer. This will be for travel for participation in a professional activity. All applications are due by November 27, and only UFF members are eligible. In addition, no recipient of the Fall 2017 or Spring 2018 cycles of travel grants is eligible to apply. The five recipients shall be selected by lot at the November 30 chapter meeting. For more information, 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 (click here).

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.

Sexual Harassment Training

Last summer, partly in response to recent events, the UFF Biweekly ran an issue on gender discrimination and another on sexual harassment. The issues may be related: some harassment is bullying, and some bullying is aimed at maintaining or manipulating a pecking order, so harassment and discrimination could have the same goal, even if the harasser or discriminator is not consciously aware of any goal.

But if living in a civilized society is our conscious goal, we have to pay attention to what we are doing and what we see happening around us. That may be the idea behind an online module that recently arrived in everyone's inbox. A letter from the provost, the vice president of USF health, and both regional chancellors advised us of our "roles and responsibilities in the prevention of discrimination, harassment and retaliation..." Further, as "Periodic employee training is an important component of this duty," employees are required to complete a 45-minute module by October 31. And "the completion [of the module] will be recorded in ... GEMS."

A few days later, emails went out for an online module for supervisors and and an online module for employees. The online module for employees (which uses pop ups) consists of three components:

  1. Three documents to be read "thoroughly": a 24-page document on Sexual Misconduct/Sexual Harassment (Including Sexual Violence), an 8-page document on Diversity and Equal Opportunity: Discrimination and Harassment, and the USF Title IX web-page.
  2. An interactive video consisting of mini-lectures followed by short multiple choice quizzes. A user can retake quizzes (and it may be useful to take notes for the quizzes). The language is legalistic (e.g. quid pro quo applies only to someone in legal authority asking or pressuring for sexual favors in return for benefits).
  3. A final multiple choice quiz, the result of which will be entered into the employee's GEMS account. Users are permitted to retry the final quiz.
The entire module takes about an hour to complete if one does not worry about the initial three documents too much. At any rate, the emphasis is mostly on harassment, with only incidental concern with discrimination.

Three comments.

  • Since the primary purpose of an anti-harassment policy - of which this module is a part - is to reduce harassment, it is not clear how effective this will be. Lectures are notoriously ineffective in getting listeners to change their behavior (as we teachers know very well), which is why some experts recommend more interactive training, including role playing and virtual reality, to develop skills for dealing with situations that come up.
  • Despite frequent reassurances that there is no intent to infringe on academic freedom, many of the prohibitions in the interactive video are sufficiently broad and abstract to bar some things, like racy Renaissance art, that could legitimately appear in a classroom or be discussed in an academic setting. This poses two problems. First, a teacher could get in trouble for presenting racy Renaissance art in class. Second, the anti-harassment movement could be damaged by the spectacle of a teacher punished for presenting racy Renaissance art in class.
  • It looks clear from the instructions that this training is an assignment, which raises the interesting question of whether outcome scores (entered into GEMS) will be used in any evaluations of employees. It also isn't clear what the consequences of not taking this module are, although the Division of Human Resources told the Oracle that they intend to nag employees until they do take it.
Harassment and bullying, sexual and otherwise, are a serious problem in an any institution, especially in an institution with a lot of young people in it. It is important to get employees engaged in the issue, not just compliant with certain legalistic standards. To some extent, this module is a step forward, but it is definitely a work in progress.

Native American Mound Builders

Thomas Pluckhahn is a professor of Anthropology at USF Tampa. He received a $ 500 UFF travel scholarship to go to the Smithsonian Institution to conduct a test on a Native American artifact. Here is his account.

The archaeological site of Kolomoki, in southwestern Georgia, is a Native American mound site occupied primarily during the Woodland period (1000 BC to AD 1000) and preserved today as a Georgia State Park. Mound A, the site's largest mound, is one of the largest earthen mounds in North America. The Smithsonian Institution conducted extensive excavations in Mound A in the 1880s, and there were later excavations of more modest scope in the 1950s. Unfortunately, this work was completed before the advent of radiocarbon dating, and there have been no modern excavations owing to the wishes of descendant Native American tribes. As a result, the mound has never been precisely dated, and there has long been skepticism that a mound of such substantial size could date comparably early (most mounds of this size and rectangular form were completed during the subsequent Mississippian period, from AD 1000 to 1500). Fortunately, the Smithsonian excavations were conducted by a botanist, who collected samples of charred wood (probably burned posts) from the mound. With financial assistance from UFF, I traveled to the Smithsonian Institution, retrieved a charcoal sample, and submitted it for radiocarbon dating. The resulting date confirms that the mound was constructed around AD 750, during the Woodland period. The results formed a portion of an article published in American Antiquity, the premiere journal for archaeologists working in the Americas.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, October 4, at noon, on USF Tampa, in EDU 261.

We will have lunch at the meeting. All UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. Come and join the movement.

Our website is http://www.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.

If you do not want to receive the UFF Biweekly, you can unsubscribe below. If you do not receive the Biweekly, but want to, e-mail a message to gmccolm@tampabay.rr.com.