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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
12 August 2021
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Covid, Academic Freedom, and the Search

As the Biweekly observed way back in May, Fall was not that far away. Now it's just a week and a half away. And on top of everything else we typically prepare for when Fall rolls around, there are other things to attend to.

  • Covid in the Classroom. Classes start in eleven days, Delta is surging, and we are working to make the job less hazardous: we will start impact bargaining on teaching during a pandemic, and here is UFF's first proposal. For details, see below or click here.
Meanwhile, the state government isn't helping.
  • Academic Freedom. We have heard from our state affiliate's lawyers about HB 233, the law that says that everyone will be surveyed on academic freedom - and that students may record class lectures. For details, see below or click here.
And we are seeking a new president.
  • Searching for a New President. The search for the next president of USF is getting underway, and the community should get involved. For details, see below or click here.
At noon today, Friday, August 12, the USF chapter of the UFF will hold a Zoom Town Hall on UNION 101. All about the union: what does, what it's good for, how to get involved, etc. To attend, register with your name and email address and Zoom will send you an invitation.

Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on Zoom

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon on Zoom. On the agenda: reopening in fall, salary equity across campuses, collective bargaining, and more. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting.

Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary to get one. This is the last chapter meeting of this summer; this fall, chapter meetings will resume on Friday, August 27.

Meetings and events are posted on the Events Calendar of the UFF USF Website. Come and check us out.

Memorial for Roy Weatherford

As announced in the July 15 Biweekly, there will be a memorial for USF Philosophy Professor and former UFF USF Chapter President Roy Weatherford on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, on September 5, there will be a Memorial for Roy Weatherford from 4 pm to 6 pm at the Sam & Martha Gibbons Alumni Center at USF. All members and friends of the USF community are invited to come say good-by. For more information, contact Doris Weatherford .

Tailgate Social in Fall

UFF will sponsor a Tailgate Social for the first home football game of the USF Bulls vs. the Florida Gators on Sept. 11, 2021. The game will be at Raymond James stadium in Tampa. The game is scheduled to start at noon, but kickoff time is subject to change. Regardless, we are planning a tent, chairs, coolers, and food for 50 UFF members and families members before the game. In the past, our Tailgates have been at a prime location to watch the bands and players enter, meet up with Rocky, and enjoy the fans.

RSVP to Steve Lang if you plan to participate and let us know who is coming (like a spouse or children). We will need to order food and maybe extra chairs.

If you already have tickets to the game, that’s great! Otherwise, you can get tickets at the Go USF Bulls (Football Tickets) website. For the last few years there was an employee discount, so call them and ask. If you do not have tickets and would like UFF to ask for a group or tickets together, then let us know ASAP and we will try to arrange it. This game will be sold out! No one actually knows what the mask or vaccination policy will be at Raymond James Stadium at this time.

Please provide an email so that we can update folks with information about the time of the game, location of the Tailgate, parking, food choices, and tickets.

We have had some really great tailgate parties in the past few years at the Rays, Rowdies, and USF Bulls, so hopefully this will be a back-to-normal event.

Join UFF Today!

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. Here is the membership form. Come and join the movement.


If you have been the victim of a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement or the recent Memorandum of Understanding, 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 Grievances Page.

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.

We are on Social Media

Yes, we are on social media.

  • We have a Facebook group: see United Faculty of Florida at USF. 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, and the moderator will invite every UFF member that asks to join. Non-members are welcome to look (but you need a Facebook account to do that). So check us out.
  • We have a blog: see The USF Faculty Blog. This has news items as they come up.
  • We are twitter-pated: follow us on Twitter via @UffUsf.
  • We even have a You-Tube channel: check out our videos
If you want to help with media matters, contact the Communications Committee chair.

Covid in the Classroom

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID Data Tracker, the entire Tampa Bay Area is at a "High" Level of Community Transmission. Over two thirds of American adults have had at least one shot, but in the Tampa Bay, it's more like half. The CDC has issued guidelines for Institutes of Higher Education, which includes encouraging everyone to get shots, asking people who haven't gotten shots to wear a mask, maintaining physical distancing, etc. But the governor's spokesperson told the Tampa Bay Times that "By the time you see deaths rise, we're long past the point of mitigation having any impact whatsoever...Ergo, taking new actions due to the delayed reporting of deaths - an artifact of the past - would be a trivial exercise."

UFF's position is better late than never. UFF has moved to initiate impact bargaining on the pandemic and sent a letter to the Administration on protecting the USF community. We will continue to push for action, but meanwhile, classes start in eleven days.

USF has a website on Stopping the Spread, a Faculty Toolkit, the USF Emergency Management page, and the Faculty Guidance and Advice for Spring 2021 is still posted. Still, classes are opening (even though practically everything else - including USF Board of Trustees meetings - are online), and the question is how to deal with that.

One tool faculty can use to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their students, is to report hazardous job conditions - which includes classrooms with inadequate ventilation, or with space restrictions making adequate (6 feet) social distancing impossible, or other problems that would enable the contagion. According to Section 21.3 of the contract, "Whenever an employee reports a condition which the employee feels represents a violation of safety or health rules and regulations or which is an unreasonable hazard to persons or property, such conditions shall be promptly investigated. The appropriate administrator shall reply to the concern, in writing, if the employee's concern is communicated in writing." Here is a template for making a report to one's supervisor, and notice that the university also has an online form for reporting safety issues to USF Environmental Health & Safety. UFF members should feel free to contact the UFF USF Grievance Committee for assistance.

Secondly, for face-to-face classes, we recommend a flexible statement in the syllabus, such as: While this is a face-to-face class, because of the current pandemic, it may be necessary to suspend normal operations, which may entail the options such as those enumerated in the Statement of Academic Continuity: Learning Management System, online conferencing, email messaging, and/or an alternate schedule.

Meanwhile, UFF has moved for impact bargaining to adjust the current contract to deal with hazardous job conditions. We have just sent in UFF's first proposal for a Memorandum of Understanding on teaching this academic year. (There is also a link on UFF's bargaining page.). And we will continue to hope that the governor follows the advice of the 140 physicians who signed the letter from doctors to Gov. DeSantis published in the Tampa Bay Times.

Academic Freedom

A new law, House Bill 233, allows students to record class lectures, bars faculty from "shielding" students against problematic ideas, and requires annual surveys on academic freedom. Our lawyers - paid for by union dues - have looked at the bill and sent guidance to UFF chapters as well as filing a lawsuit (see also the story in the Tampa Bay Times). Here is an outline of what the lawyers told us.

  • An annual Intellectual Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Survey. It is not yet clear what the survey will ask, but the law does empower the State to ask intrusive questions and the Governor has suggested using survey results to guide funding decisions.
  • A prohibition against shielding students, faculty, and staff from unwanted ideas and opinions. The law authorizes lawsuits against colleges and universities if teachers engage in "shielding" activities, which may tempt colleges and universities to discipline faculty who "shield" students. There is no guidance on what "shielding" means in the law itself, which raises the interesting question of whether history teachers are barred from shielding their students against critical race theory. The lawyers conclude that "students should be permitted to express diverse ideas" but not defamatory ones, nor are expressions "materially disruptive to the learning environment" protected.
  • Enabling students to record lectures, for personal use or litigation. This item got the most attention from the lawyers.
    • The law only empowers students to record lectures (without asking permission - or even telling the teacher). It does not empower students to record each other. While the lawyers observe that the law does not mandate anything appear in the syllabus, UFF recommends following the university's policies regarding student recordings. And by the way, USF Academic affairs says that you may insert in your syllabus the following bullets:
      • Students with disabilities will continue to have appropriate accommodations for recordings as established by Student Accessibility Services.
      • Students may record class lectures which will be considered instructor-delivered academic content. No recordings of other students, class participation, or discussion will be permitted.
      • Students do not need advance permission or to provide notice to record. But, students must monitor their recording so that it does not include participation by other students.
      • Students may not publish (post or share) the recordings except as provided by statute. In the event permission is requested to publish (post or share), the student’s request and instructor’s consent must be in writing.
      • Students and instructors are responsible for compliance with the statute and related potential sanctions. Misuse of the recordings may result in referrals as possible violations of the student code of conduct or considered academic disruptions.
    The lawyers address the question, should faculty record their lectures in self-protection? This is tricky. Even if you record a lecture with your own machine, the university might demand to see it (and it might even be subject to public document requests). At any rate, you should retain the recordings - with all that that implies.
If you are confronted by the Administration or a student about an issue related to the law, contact us. One problem is that there are political organizations that persuade students to test the waters, and if USF is being targeted by such an organization, UFF would like to know about it. Contact our grievance committee.

Searching for a New President

We were please by USF Board of Trustees chair Will Weatherford's column saying that, "We need your help to search for the next USF president." But we recall the last search. It was largely conducted in secret, ostensibly to protect the identities of candidates who would have been too shy to apply if their names would be bandied about, until at last a list of finalists appeared. The choice was made publicly then.

In the Yes, Prime Minister episode on the Bishop's Gambit, the Prime Minister's personal secretary explained how the Church of England advanced their preferred candidate for a bishopric as a sort of card trick: "You know, Take any card -- you always end up with the card the magician forces you to take." How are you forced to take that card? The Prime Minister's permanent secretary explained how it works. "If the Church puts up the candidate they want plus an impossible second candidate, then the PM has no real choice."

So, shyness aside, the community has to be involved in the process that selects the finalists. A sideways glance at the recent debacle at Florida State University shows the necessity of community involvement. As Mr. Weatherford observed, USF belongs to all of us, so we should all be involved in the selection.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, August 13, at 12 noon, via Zoom. All UFF USF members are welcome: for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary.

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 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.

If you do not want to receive the UFF Biweekly, you can unsubscribe below or contacting the Chapter Secretary. If you do not receive the Biweekly, but want to, contact the Chapter Secretary.