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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
12 September 2019
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Guns and Universities

"No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session," wrote Gideon Tucker, but what about when the Legislature is preparing to go into session? The Legislature convenes in January, but bills are being drafted at this moment. Based on recent experience, the question might be, What Are They Planning to Do to Us This Time? Well...

  • Guns are Back on the Agenda. At least four bills on guns - spanning the spectrum - are in the queue for the Legislature next spring. For details, see below or click here.
Meanwhile, we should have been able to have a more hopeful attitude towards the legislative session. After all, education is all about the future. So as promised, we return to the question of what universities are good for.
  • Universities in Interesting Times. Higher education has always been an expense, so there must have been strong reasons for governments and societies to support it. One reason is that they benefit - and are arguably indispensable for - the economy. But they are also necessary for facing the challenges ahead. For more, see below or click here.
One note on bargaining. Our contract, the Collective Bargaining Agreement, was supposed to be succeeded by a new contract on August 7. Unfortunately, with all the distractions and developments of the last year, the Administration is behind. But we are working on it now. Meanwhile, the old contract remains in force.

Chapter Meeting Tomorrow in St. Petersburg (near USF St. Petersburg)

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at noon at Ferg's Sports Bar, northwest of USF St. Petersburg at 1320 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL 33705. Lunch is on us. On the agenda: consolidation:

Also, chapter meeting locations this fall - and the UFF Senate meeting this weekend. Come and check us out.

This fall, we will meet on September 13 & 27, October 11 & 25, November 8 & 22, and December 6 at noon at locations announced on the calendar on the UFF USF Website. Come and check us out.

$ 500 Travel Grants for UFF Members

The USF Chapter of the UFF will award six $ 500 Travel Scholarships for this fall, next spring and summer. This will be for travel for participation in a professional activity. All applications are due by December 4, and only UFF members are eligible. In addition, no recipient of the Fall or Spring cycles of travel grants is eligible to apply. The six recipients shall be selected by lot at the December 6 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, Debra Sinclair (click here).

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.

Guns are Back on the Agenda

The Florida Legislature meets in winter next year, which means that legislators are planning their legislation - and lobbyists are paying them quiet visits - now. Legislative bills are being filed now, and this is the time that UFF wants to educate legislators on the likely consequences of their legislation.

Which brings us to guns. It's only September, and already three likely bills have surfaced on guns (and another is promised), two amending the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act that was passed in response to the Parkland shooting:

Senate President Bill Galvano called on the Senate to focus on guns in the coming session and several senators have announced plans to file bills to restrict access to guns.

The question is what to do about gun violence, since solutions to this kind of problem are occasionally counterintuitive. This is what science is for. Last Fall, the Florida Education Association - our statewide affiliate, representing K-20 educators - passed a motion calling on Congress to repeal federal legislation that had discouraged research into gun violence, so we are encouraged by reports that legislation to fund gun violence research is moving through Congress; see op-ed pieces on this legislation posted by The Scientific American and Wired.

As a reality check, concerns about gun violence can affect higher education in a number of ways. For example, a recent survey of international students found that a growing concern was "physical safety", with 44 % of responding institutions listing "concerns about physical safety as a factor contributing to the declines in international enrollment."

Universities in Interesting Times

In a previous issue of the Biweekly, we addressed the question, "what is a college education good for?", and we concluded that, on average, higher education is better for the students (financially) in the long run. This seems to be the public's primary concern, although recent (or, more precisely, recurring) complaints about political correctness echo concerns about pointy-headed professors that have exercised pundits ever since Ancient Greece. In view of such complaints, we turn to the question of whether colleges and universities are worth the money society as a whole invests in them.

Governments have put up with the expense ever since the Ptolemies founded the Museion at Alexandria, and not just as prestige projects. Governments need bureaucrats, engineers, physicians, and propagandists. Moreover, the fate of governments is linked to that of the economies they oversee, and a recent (if crude) study of universities around the world suggests that universities benefit their local communities economically.

Predicting the future may be difficult, but our society probably faces major challenges this coming century. Take two challenges;

Both of these problems are vast, complicated, and take a lot of expertise to address. In other words, no matter what the pretentions of pundits and politicians, these are jobs for the universities. And notice that in considering how societies might react and how they might prepare, we are going beyond STEM and involving the expertise of the humanities and business.

Moreover, both these challenges require engaging the public at large. We are a democracy, and as Thomas Jefferson warned, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be." The public, the pundits, and the politicians all have to understand the challenges we face, and what the options are, and that requires education.

But there is a problem: to the public at large - and to politicians in Tallahassee, it is not obvious what universities are for. As William Gilbert advises us,

If you wish in the world to advance,
Your merits you're bound to enhance,
You must stir it and stump it,
And blow your own trumpet,
Or, trust me, you haven't a chance!

If you are a UFF member interested in educating politicians, contact the acting head of UFF USF Government Relations. After all, if we don't blow our own trumpet, in this day and age, no one else is likely to.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, September 10, at noon,Ferg's Sports Bar, 1320 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL 33705.

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.

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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