Friday's Chapter Meeting will start at 1 pm. For details, see the Chapter Meeting announcement below.
Everything seems to be happening this year, or even right now, and a lot of it right here. USF will be consolidated on July 1, we are in the midst of a pandemic that most experts anticipate will continue for another year - and we are preparing to teach classes ... somehow ... and we are watching (or even marching in) protests against racism.
Meanwhile (and we cannot forget the rest of the world), the Pope and the Dalai Lama both reminded us of the necessity of addressing climate change, locusts are swarming in East Africa and India, and the post office is in financial trouble just in time for a general election featuring an unprecedented number of mail ballots.
But pleading crisis fatigue will not make the crises go away. One must deal with them. First, one that should not have been a surprise...
UFF believes that the Memorandum of Understanding is in the best interest of the university and its faculty, and recommends that all faculty vote in favor of ratification.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
On order to not conflict with President Currall's Virtual Townhall on Phased Return to Campus, the USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 1 pm on Zoom. On the agenda: reopening, black members of the USF community, consolidation, and other issues.. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting.
We will meet tomorrow, and on July 3 & 17 & 31, and August 14. Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but you must have 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.
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.
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.
Yes, we are on social media.
When the pandemic hit, there were predictions that it would expose the cracks and crevices in the status quo. One gaping chasm quickly appeared: the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on minority groups, including the black community. It was probably inevitable that more of that chasm would appear. Video recordings of brutal and often lethal police treatment of minorities have been surfacing for years with the random steadiness of a grotesque Geiger counter. The combination of the disproportionate effect of the pandemic and the callousness of prominent government figures made a furious reaction to one death in Minneapolis even more likely.
While pundits and politicians wrung their hands over the vandals and looters that often join such protests, the grotesque Geiger counter seems to have sped up, with brutal police reactions to protesters, to bystanders, to journalists, to young black men visiting Wendy's. There are signs of hope: American popular opinion thinks that the police were in the wrong and some police have joined protesters to kneel à lá Colin Kaepernick, suggesting a shift in police attitudes towards race and policing.
The protests have revived a closer look at how other institutions treat minorities, including higher education. Apparently inspired by President Currall's May 30 Message to the USF Community, on June 8, eighty-eight black USF faculty, staff, and students sent an open letter to USF President Currall calling for action at USF on nine fronts. "We invite students, staff, and faculty to work in solidarity with each other and with the campus community to re-imagine what Black life could and should be at USF and in the Tampa Bay community."
Focusing on racism at USF is in line with the principle of thinking globally and acting locally. If we focus on getting USF's own house in order, several points in the letter address the diversity of faculty, one of the basic metrics on how USF is doing. Perhaps the simplest metric is the proportion of each rank in each category. In the 21 September 2017 Biweekly, we noted (among other things) that from 2011 to 2017, there were slight shifts in the ethnic mix of the UFF USF Bargaining Unit. Following up on that table, using the categories from GEMS, as of 10 January 2020, there are four American Indian/ Alaska Native (0.2 %) employees in the Bargaining Unit, 239 Asian/ Pacific Islander (14 %), 102 Black/ African American (6.1 %), 121 Hispanic/ Latino (7.2 %), two Native Hawaiian/ Oth Pac Isldr (0.12 %), 1,187 White (71 %), and sixteen with no ethnicity given.
But what does this tell us about how people are treated? Another metric to look at is retention: what USF employees stay at USF? As the Biweekly has noted, USF has retention issues:
% still here in 2020
% still here in 2020
|American Indian / Alaska Native||25%||0%|
|Asian / Pacific Islander||66%||63%|
|Black / African American||57%||47%|
|Hispanic / Latino||63%||36%|
Professorships and instructorships are different: USF is better at retaining male professors than female ones, but retains male and female instructors about the same. More strikingly, USF is better at retaining Hispanic/ Latino professors than Black/ African professors, but the reverse is true for instructors. Interestingly, USF retains Asian/Pacific Islander instructors and professors nearly the same.
Where to go from here? For faculty retention, it might be true USF should focus on improving retention among female and minority faculty. On the other hand, retention at USF is generally problematic, so perhaps retention itself is something USF should focus on - while keeping a sharp eye on how female and minority faculty are doing.
On June 8 President Currall and Dean Haywood Brown sent a Message to USF students, faculty and staff promising action on a number of fronts. Other institutions are promising action as well. But there will be a lot of work to do to make sure that actions promised during protests actually are implemented.
While some institutions have announced that they are going online in Fall, others are announcing that they are reopening. The proximate cause for the decision to reopen may be financial, but that's a reflection of strong student preferences and needs. (Institutions may also be responding to unhelpful political pressure from state capitals.) The USF Board of Trustees last Tuesday accepted hybrid / online / face-to-face approach that would proceed in four phases.
Hopefully, the state will soon get its act together. If not, USF may be better off relying on its own experts. Meanwhile, members of the USF Community may want to attend President Currall's Virtual Townhall on Phased Return to Campus tomorrow, Friday, at 11:30 am.
On July 1, the University of South Florida System will become the single, united University of South Florida. Indeed, on June 12, President Currall sent a letter to the USF Community informing us that our accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), approved the Administration's consolidation plan - although SACSCOC will soon visit USF to see how things are going.
The USF Newsroom posted an announcement that quoted USF Board of Trustees Chair Jordan Zimmerman, who said, "Consolidation is an extensive and complex process and we are grateful for the many valuable contributions of faculty, staff and students from each campus as well as other stakeholders from across the Tampa Bay region and the State of Florida."
In his letter, President Currall wrote, "We have an extraordinary opportunity, as One USF, to strengthen our position as one of the nation’s premier research universities and a leader in student success by developing new and innovative ways to serve all members of the university community and the broader Tampa Bay region..." This is a reminder that a time of crisis - including a protracted crisis like a pandemic - is an opportunity to think about what one's priorities are and where one wants to go. Our community and our nation face enormous challenges, from disease to injustice to disinformation to climate change, and universities like USF can provide the good counsel and critical technology our community needs to address these challenges.
Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, June 20, at noon, via Zoom. All UFF USF members are welcome: for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary.the Chapter Secretary. Come and join the movement.
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