Last week was the deadline for faculty teaching general education courses in fall to submit their syllabi - for political inspection. University administrations are almost apologetically advising faculty to … maybe adjust their courses a little. Not everyone is apologetic: the former chair of the University of Florida Faculty Senate and the president of the University of Florida wrote a curiously defiant op-ed saying, nothing to see here, folks (USF logon required). Nothing has changed - except what we have to do differently.
Among other things, union dues pay for lawyers to take dubious legislation to court. But litigation takes a long time - and carries no guarantees - so what do we do in the meantime? We look at three laws enacted this year.
The ultimate source of all this is the political leadership in Tallahassee, so we should recall that we elected these politicians. So here is a reminder. The Florida primary is on August 23 and the deadline to register to vote in the primary is July 25. For anyone voting by mail, the supervisors of elections will tend to send mail ballots during the week of July 14 - 21, so we recommend requesting a mail ballot before then. For more information, see the Florida Division of Elections; to check your current status as a voter, see the Voter Information Lookup page. For more details, see the July 4 Extra.
The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon at the USF St. Petersburg Student Center, in the Palm Room. But we will have sandwiches, drinks, and sweets first, at 11:30; we would like a head count, so please send us an RSVP. On the agenda: the legislation described in this issue. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting.
Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but to Zoom in you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary to get one.
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.
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.
Yes, we are on social media.
Senate Bill 7044 on Postsecondary Educationrequires that each university shop for a new accreditor and empowers the Florida Board of Governors to implement "post tenure review", and requires that faculty post information on their courses in advance - for political - er, public - er, student - inspection.
House Bill 7 on Individual Freedom (alias the Stop WOKE Act) presents a list of things that shall not be taught, ranging from "Members of one race, color, national origin, or sex are morally superior to members of another race, color, national origin, or sex" to "Such virtues as merit, excellence, hard work, fairness, neutrality, objectivity, and racial colorblindness are racist or sexist, or were created by members of a particular race, color, national origin, or sex to oppress members of another race, color, national origin, or sex" (see the proposed State University System regulation for the complete list.)
While the statute doesn't prohibit discussing these "concepts" in class - it only prohibits their "endorsement" - the list is sweeping enough to catch all sorts of course activities. Furthermore, the enforcement mechanism is to cut university funding - thus leaving enforcement to anxious university administrators. Administrations may rely on student complaints, so we've been advised that it may be wise to post a prominent disclaimer, such as…
|Students are encouraged to employ critical thinking and to rely on data and verifiable sources to interrogate all assigned readings and subject matter in this course as a way of determining whether they agree with their classmates and/or their instructor. No lesson is intended to espouse, promote, advance, inculcate, or compel a particular feeling, perception, viewpoint or belief.|
We've been advised of three strategies that faculty could follow.
The Legislature has plopped us in the middle of a minefield, so while the mess is litigated, we will have to be careful. And remember, UFF can only represent an employee in a grievance if that employee was a UFF member at the time of the grievable contract violation. So join today.
Although House Bill 1557 on Parental Rights in Education (aka Don't Say Gay) does not directly affect higher education, its indirect effects are sufficiently troublesome that faculty should be aware of it. In K-12 education, it bars instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity that is not "age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards." The primary enforcement mechanism is that parents may sue, which may intimidate teachers from addressing sexual orientation or gender identity at all. For details, see the NEA's handout on What You Need to Know about Florida's "Don't Say Gay or Trans" Bill. There are two concerns here. One is that LGBTQ students who have been neglected or mistreated because of this legislation will be arriving on our doorstep. The other is that the Legislature may decide to impose something similar on higher education.
The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, July 8, at 12:00, on USF St. Petersburg, in the Student Center Palm Room. (There will be lunch at 11:30 am.) All UFF USF members are welcome. In addition, the meeting will be on Zoom: for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary.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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.