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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
9 April 2020
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Legislative Wrap-up ... and Zoombombing

The Legislature wrapped up its annual session just as Tallahassee was getting serious about the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant that some of their less helpful initiatives were abandoned.

  • The Legislative Wrap-Up ... That Probably Isn't. A pandemic, a recession, an election, and the Legislature went home ... for now. For details, see below or click here.
Meanwhile, readers will have noticed that the chapter meetings has a doorman. You have to have an invitation to get in. What gives?
  • Wilding Online. The problem with being online is that you are only a few electron volts away from gate crashers. For a description of the phenomenon - and what people are doing about it - see below or click here.
We suffered a loss.
  • Adrienne Berarducci. Adrienne Berarducci served on the Bargaining Committee and as Membership Chair. For details, see below or click here.
At the last chapter meeting, it was decided that since faculty will be doing little travel during coming months, the scholarships would be more useful if they were for equipment and materials purchased for going online. (In addition, it was decided to reserve at least one scholarship for an instructor.) Note the change in the scholarship announcement below. Meanwhile, we continue to present accounts by faculty members of the research or instruction enabled by UFF USF scholarships.
  • Poetry and Philosophy. Adriana Novoa of the Department of History was a panelilst at a workshop at a meeting of the Latin American Studies Association. For more, see below or click here.
A reminder: this is April, the month for joining the Sick Leave Pool. The pool is a sort of insurance for employees who run out of sick leave due to major illness; but employees have to be enrolled. April is the month to enroll. For more information, see the Sick Leave Pool Procedure.

And you may notice that some of the announcements below have changed...

Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on USF Tampa at noon on Zoom

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at noon on Zoom. On the agenda: networking. Unions started as mutual aid societies, and this is a time when many of our colleagues need a little help from their friends. But finding help requires networks and organizing. In addition, we still plan an organizing and recruiting campaign in fall, and we would like to influence the legislators as they compose bills for the session next spring (or during special sessions this year). So we ask social media and tech savvy people to come to the Chapter Meeting Friday, on Zoom, to discuss how the Chapter can reach out during this crisis. (We will follow the security advice posted by Wired and UC Berkeley - see the article below - and ask people to contact contact the Chapter Secretary for the link).

We will meet on April 10 & 24. Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but you must have the link, which comes in something Zoom calls an "invitation": contact the Chapter Secretary. Meetings and events are posted on the Events Calendar of the UFF USF Website. Come and check us out.

$ 500 Research & Instruction Scholarships for UFF Members

The USF Chapter of the UFF will award six $ 500 Research & Instructional Scholarships for spring, summer and fall. This will be for research and instructional expenses (not excluding travel having occurred this semester). All applications are due by Wednesday, April 22, and only UFF members are eligible. In addition, no recipient of the 2018 cycles of travel grants is eligible to apply, and members of the Executive Committee are ineligible. The six recipients shall be selected by lot at the April 24 chapter meeting. For more information, see the Research & Instruction Scholarships 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, Debbi Sinclair (click here).

USF United Support Fund for Food Pantries

Many of our students are struggling during this crisis, and the USF Foundation is supporting the USF Food Pantries to help out. They are accepting non-perishable donations, but one can also make monetary donations for the pantries at St. Petersburg, Sarasota / Manatee, and Tampa.

Join UFF Today!

In order to be a member of UFF, one has to join. To join, 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.

We are on Social Media

Yes, we are on social media.

If you want to help with media matters, contact the Communications Committee chair.

Legislative Wrap-Up ... That Probably Isn't

There's nothing like a pandemic to keep the Legislature from making trouble. True, they stooped to deny us the 3 % pay raise they authorized for state employees, but as for the legislation that would have caused us trouble...

...all died when legislators were suddenly confronted with this unpleasant thing called reality.

Senate Bill 72 did pass, and spreads out pre-eminence funding more equally (we'll see how that goes), modifies performance metrics (again), and tightens conflict of interest language (a possible reaction to irregular behavior at Moffitt Center and the University of Florida).

The economic situation being what it is, the Legislature may well be recalled to deal with emergency legislation. Stay tuned.

Wilding Online

A few days ago, during an (pre-college) class meeting on Zoom, a man hacked into the meeting and exposed himself to the class. And this is only one example of an increasingly popular activity called Zoombombing, largely because the platform most frequently hacked (at least recently) is Zoom.

The pandemic suddenly created a gigantic demand for an accessible platform that tolerated weak internet connections. Since most of the approved platforms for education presented untrained users with a labyrinth of confusing features that don't function when the connection is weak, inexperienced teachers turned to a platform that they could actually handle and that would actually function on elderly laptops with weak internet connections. Zoom's daily traffic increased 535 % in one month.

And not just classes. Churches, businesses, clubs, support groups, you name it. Zoom is becoming a verb.

The sudden increase in traffic seems to have taken Zoom by surprise; it didn't help that Zoom had privacy issues. It didn't take long for pranksters (and worse) to start organizing "Zoombombing raids" on classes, corporate meetings, support groups...the latter target raising concerns that Zoombombing could actually hurt someone.

The US Department of Justice has warned that Zoombombing is a crime. Zoom itself has announced that it is putting all of its effort into security and Wired has posted an article on How to Keep Your Zoom Chats Private and Secure while UC Berkeley's Information Security Office has posted Settings for Preventing Zoom-Bombing.

A pandemic is disruptive, and disruption creates opportunities for unhelpful trolls. (These opportunists are hardly alone: think of the coronavirus scams - and conspiracy theories - proliferating through the net.) The bottom line is that for the near term at least, many classes are going to run on user-friendly platforms if they are to run at all. Forbes recommends exploring alternatives to Zoom (including some less friendly than Zoom), and yesterday, USF Academic Affairs advised faculty not to use Zoom. But realistically, any user-friendly system is going to see a dramatic increase in traffic and hence become a major target. Insider Higher Ed may be right in claiming that Zoombombing isn't going away - and we may well see this happen on other platforms in the near future.

And one last comment: if you make a video recording, regardless of your platform, pay close attention to where you are saving it, for there are trolls in the Cloud.

Adrienne Berarducci

Adrienne Berarducci, a Professor at the University of South Florida and long-time resident of Sarasota, Florida, passed away after a long illness on March 25th, 2020, at the age of 64.

Adrienne is survived by her sister, Anna Kish (née Berarducci); her brother, Dominick (Carol) Berarducci; her nephews, Anthony (Jenny) and Christopher (Rita) Berarducci; her nieces, Dr. Jennifer Berarducci (Shea Allen) and Christina Kish; and her dogs: Rickie, Strega, Luna, Boci, and Choco-laté. She is also survived by 4 great-nephews and 1 great-niece. She is predeceased by her parents Anthony Berarducci and Josephine Berarducci (née Quatrini) and her brother-in-law, Thomas Kish.

Adrienne was born in Lackawanna, New York, on November 25th, 1955. She received her undergraduate degree from Daemen College in Amherst, New York. She graduated from the University of South Florida where she received both her M.S. and Ph.D. She worked as an Associate in the College of Medicine Surgery, as an Assoc Professor in the College of Nursing, and as an Assistant Professor in the College of Medicine Internal Medicine. Adrienne has published numerous articles on Osteoporosis-related topics. She was also in private practice.

She was a longstanding member of UFF, serving as a senator, a member of the Bargaining Committee, and more recently, as Chair of the Membership Committee.

Adrienne was a devoted dog owner. She owned multiple championship Black and Yellow Labrador Retrievers and spent much of her time with her current dogs. She enjoyed cooking and sharing good food and wine with friends. She will be deeply missed by her family, friends, colleagues, and all who knew her.

A private service will be scheduled for family and close friends at a date to be determined. Donations can be made to the American Cancer Society.

Poetry and Philosophy

Adriana Novoa is an associate professor in the Department of History. She received a $ 500 travel scholarship to attend the Latin American Studies Association meeting last year in Boston, where she was on a panel on José Martí's 'Our America': concept, practice, and transcendence. This is her account.

My scholarship helped me to cover the costs of attending the international conference organized by the Latin American Studies Association, the main organization in my field. I presented an essay on José Martí, the Cuban revolutionary, whose work "Our America" was the theme of this year’s conference. I was invited by the Centro de Estudios Martianos, a Cuban research center, to be one of the panelists in one workshop that they organized for the conference. (They organized four panels about different aspects of Martí's work). My presentation was based on my recent work on Martí's ideas and their influence in the Americas, particularly the connections he established between poetry and philosophy. I am very grateful for the union’s help in making possible my attendance to this important event which helped me to disseminate my work.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, April 10, at noon, via Zoom.

All UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. To get the link to Zoom, contact the Chapter Secretary. 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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