United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
29 June 2017
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Chapter Meeting Tomorrow in Tampa
The Chapter will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon in Perkins Restaurant in Tampa, on 5002 E. Fowler Ave. (at the intersection of E. Fowler Ave. and N. 50th Street, on the southeastern corner of USF Tampa). Lunch is on us, and all USF employees are invited, especially UFF members and employees thinking of becoming UFF members. Here is Friday's agenda.
The Chapter will meet this summer on June 30, July 14, July 28, and August 11, at 12 noon. All meetings - except the July 28 meeting - will be at Perkins Restaurant in Tampa on 5002 E. Fowler Ave.; the July 28 chapter meeting will be on USF St. Petersburg at a location TBD. Come and check us out.
$ 500 Travel Scholarships for UFF Members
The USF Chapter of the UFF will award six $ 500 Travel Scholarships for fall and spring. This will be for travel for participation in a professional activity. All applications are due by August 9, and only UFF members are eligible. In addition, no recipient of the Fall 2016 or Spring 2017 cycles of travel grants, and no member of the UFF USF Executive Committee, is eligible to apply. The six recipients shall be selected by lot at the August 11 chapter meeting.
There are two new conditions:
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).
- When presented or published, any research or presentation facilitated by this scholarship must acknowledge that the work was partially supported by the United Faculty of Florida.
- After the work is presented or published, the recipient will compose a short (200 words or so) description of the research, scholarship, or creative work, for publication in the Biweekly.
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IN THIS ISSUE
Social Media, Summer Doldrums, and an Adjunct Update
In the Four Musketeers, Cardinal Richelieu (Charlton Heston) is confronted with a dubious death warrant he had unwisely given to Lady de Winter. "Hm," said that old spider, "One should be careful what one writes...and to whom one gives it. I must bear those rules in mind."
On July 3, 1776, John Adams - one of the five members of the committee that wrote the Declaration of Independence - wrote a letter to his wife Abigail saying that on July 2, Congress had unanimously approved the Declaration. "I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more." Of course, Congress still had to ratify the thing, which is why we celebrate on the Fourth. So have a Happy Independence Day, even if it is two days late.
- Social Media Strikes Again. Academic freedom is an issue again as faculty quotes (and misquotes) zing through the internet. For more on what some of us write, see below or click here.
- Summer Doldrums. Halfway through the summer, the to-do list is nowhere halfway complete. For commiseration and advice from the (upper stratosphere of the) internet, see below or click here.
- Adjunct Update. USF adjuncts wait for the PERC's decision. For the latest, see below or click here.
Social Media Strikes Again
Professor Smith posts a comment on his Facebook page, expecting half of his fifteen followers will read it any maybe two will comment. Instead, it goes viral, it hits network news, and the university administration panics and issues a sequence of contradictory statements between admonishments from faculty organizations. Politicians are outraged, pundits pontificate, and students enjoy the spectacle. While News of the Weird would say that this story has recurred too often to justify further attention, the chattering classes can't resist.
These episodes range from the entertaining - Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe's tweets were recently called "an important vector of misinformation and conspiracy theories on Twitter" - to the disconcerting - Iowa Assistant Professor Sarah Bond published a column on classical art and modern racism and became a target of internet trolls. (Disconcerting because publications in journals can now percolate down to the trolls.) More alarming is the proliferation of personal and anonymous threats against faculty for things they wrote - or didn't write.
- June Chu, Dean of Pierson College at Yale University, wrote snarky and occasionally offensive restaurant reviews on Yelp. The student newspaper found out, and she resigned during the uproar.
- Johnny Williams, Associate Professor of Sociology at Trinity College, shared ferocious tweet from a Son of Baldwin. It was interpreted as sanctioning the shooting of Senator Steve Scalise in Washington, D.C. Responding to threats, the college was briefly closed, and Williams apologized. Trinity College, which had prepared for such a crisis, has put him on leave.
- Sometimes, it's students who get in trouble. Harvard has just rescinded ten offers of admission to students who posted sexist, racist, or otherwise obscene material in what those students evidently thought was a private Facebook chat.
Several things are going on here.
The American Association of University Professors has defended academics who get in this sort of trouble, and our contract protects academic freedom. And two sociologists have issued a call for action. We should not allow ourselves to be censored or silenced - one thing society needs from academia is honest counsel - and we should stand together for academic freedom. But since it is not in our interest to be misunderstood, it may be wise to be careful with this beguiling technology.
- Social media seems almost designed to circumvent the frontal lobe. Cerebral executive functions are what prevent you from greeting your Aunt Myrna with, "Did you go off your diet?" They are also what screens your own speech and conduct. It takes a moment to engage these executive functions, just long enough to get out a tweet. And the ease of posting comments, blog posts, and the like, can seduce users into forgetting that once it's out there, it's out there.
- Many sites rely on advertising, and they charge by the number of hits. This creates an incentive for attractive hyperbole. Hence clickbait: many surfers will click on "NJ college fires prof for insensitive remarks on Fox News, and traffic (and consequent advertising revenue, not to mention attention) increases. In fact, Campus Reform, which posted the above article, is one of several sites specializing on pursuing academics.
Last week, Summer Session A ended, and there is no way to sugarcoat the truth. Today is the fifty-sixth of the 108 days of summer. In theory, we should be 52 % through our summer list.
In the 20 April 2017 Biweekly, we noted that some experts and highly organized people were sharing some advice for making this a productive summer. It should come as no surprise that as summer slithers past, the advice continues.
One interesting bit of advice is to keep track of how one is using one's time. After all, if summer frees up a lot of time, that freed up time must be somewhere, and a time diary can help track it down.
- Some experts told the Chronicle of Higher Education that unlike the rest of the school year, summer time is unstructured and faculty are more isolated. Some faculty recommend writing groups, partly to have someone else who will ask you about your progress during the previous week. One English professor - and productivity coach - recommends setting up a time map for the summer as a way of imposing structure.
- Iron Joe Bob Briggs advised, "Write every day; there is no other way." Anthony Trollope, who outraged the literary snoot set by comparing writing with carpentry, would get up at five in the morning and, facing his watch, write for three hours - and then count the words. Trollope couldn't be bothered with plot - which requires thinking quietly - which is why Paul Silvia told our English professor that one should count plotting out the novel (or article) as writing time. Of course, we now recall Victor Hugo's warning that thinking about writing is different from thinking in order to write: "Thought is the toil of the intelligence, reverie its voluptuousness. To replace thought with reverie is to confound a poison with a food."
But there seems to be no one formula: if one author does his writing in a noisy, smoke-filled cafe while sipping absinthe while another writes on an easel in a windowless and Spartan room sound-proofed with cork, the only thing they have in common is that they are writing.
Following up on the previous Biweekly, the lawyers for the SEIU and the USF Board of Trustees have made their case to PERC, and now the wheels are turning. Meanwhile, the SEIU has posted a web-page for Frequently Asked Questions and another for a petition. Stay tuned.
Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, June 30, at Perkins Restaurant, on 5002 E. Fowler Ave., in Tampa.
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.
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