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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
21 July 2022
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Pushing Back

To every action, wrote Isaac Newton, there is always opposed an equal reaction. This is often true in politics as well, and recent legislation - including legislation restricting academic freedom - has generated a lot of reactions.

  • Reactions. The Legislature produced a list of "concepts" on which faculty are not to exhibit incorrect opinions. For reactions, see below or click here.
Politicians tend to be more cautious during election years. It doesn’t pay to antagonize voters a few months before an election. This year was different. A number of noxious bills passed in what seemed to be a gamble: was it worth it to play to the base and ignore everyone else?
  • Getting Out the Vote. For those faculty willing to give students a citizenship lesson, what can one say? For some advice from our lawyers, see below or click here.
We are all happy that USF outperformed the performance metrics and thus got $73 million in performance-based funding. Yet there was a recent warning that performance-based funding tends to widen racial gaps in Tennessee and Ohio. The investigators did not explore the reasons, but they did warn that performance-based funding "…may even worsen funding inequities across institutions by leading to funding declines for minority-serving institutions and other institutions that are traditionally less well-funded than flagship and public research universities." USF is a public research university, and one dilemma we should avoid is a choice between adequate funding and service to the entire community.

Chapter Meeting Tomorrow at 12 Noon on USF Tampa in CPR 466 or Zoom

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon on USF Tampa in CPR 466 and on Zoom. On the agenda: dealing with recent legislation, getting out the vote, planning for the rest of the summer, and more. 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.

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

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.


Every year, one of our national affiliates, the National Education Association, holds an Annual Meeting & Representative Assembly, which is the legislative body of the NEA. At the meeting, the NEA distributes twelve Human and Civil Rights Awards. One of them is the Rosena J. Willis Memorial Local Affiliate Award for working for minorities, human and civil rights, and social justice.

This year, the Award went to the United Faculty of Florida for defending the (contractual) academic freedom rights of faculty at the University of Florida. (See the YouTube video on UFF receiving the Award.) We congratulate the University of Florida chapter for the recognition of their hard work.

Get Rowdie About the Contract

Celebrate the new contract on August 6 at 7:30 pm at Al Lang Stadium, when the Rowdies take on Detroit. UFF will have a pre-game tailgate with food and fun. We will be in the Dugout Suite, so RSVP now to UFF USF President Lang or to the UFF USF mailbox as we need a headcount. Members and families welcome - and if you are not a member, join today.

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.


Recent legislation requires that students not be made uncomfortable, that students not be shielded from being made uncomfortable, that certain uncomfortable subjects be minimized and that certain uncomfortable subjects be emphasized. It is possible that legislators are not clear on or in agreement about what they want, or perhaps they are responding to different interest groups that want different things. It would be unkind - but perhaps not entirely unfair - to suggest that some legislators would like to dictate what faculty teach. Whatever the case, the result is an expanding minefield extending into the curriculum.

There is pushback.

UFF USF President Steve Lang and USF Faculty Senate Member-at-Large Brian Connelly joined WMNF's Midpoint Wednesday episode on Academic Freedom Under Attack last week, to discuss what the hostess called one of the "less flashy things the DeSantis Administration has done to chip-chip-chip away at our liberties." Professor Lang observed that several USF programs lead to professional certification, and professional certification often involves inclusivity standards inconsistent with recent legislation. This can put both students and the university in hot water. Professor Connelly said that when he teaches Nineteenth century US history, discussion of slavery is unavoidable - and it is impractical to entertain the view that slavery was not a major part of the economic, political, and social structure, whatever the Legislature might expect or demand. Both made the point that the enforcement mechanism of House Bill 7 - to deny universities funding if the restrictions are not implemented - put the administrations "between a rock and a hard place."

Meanwhile, a constitutionally dubious law is attracting the attention of the lawyers. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression are planning to litigate, and UFF's state affiliates' lawyers are also looking at the legislation as well.

Unions are answerable to their members, not to politicians, so they can take a stand for academic freedom. Administrators may feel more vulnerable - witness House Bill 7's threat to cut funding - and one of the concerns is that university administrations may be intimidated. And despite Winston Churchill's warning about appeasing crocodiles, some administrations are taking a less-than-Churchillian route. For example, the University of Central Florida Administration removed some inclusivity statements from departmental websites, explaining that, "The university recently removed some departmental statements that could be seen as potentially inconsistent with our commitment to creating a welcoming environment…" - despite the fact that inclusivity statements are typically intended to create a welcoming environment.

Of course, retaliating against a faculty member for something that they wrote (or didn't write [USF login required]) can generate the most deplorable publicity, so some administrations recall Robert Penn Warren's observation that "there is always something," and dig up that something to serve as grounds for dismissing [USF login required] an inconvenient faculty member.

This has already happened in Florida: Florida Atlantic University fired a noxious professor [USF login required] for a rather dubious infraction of conflict-of-interest rules. This is a problem because Florida State Statute 1012.977 provides for suspension of a faculty member without pay pending an investigation of an unreported conflict of interest - and also for subsequent dismissal. This is conflicts with our contract's language on outside activity and is legally dubious as well. But while the matter is being resolved, we recommend that faculty report "outside activity or financial interest" in e-Disclose. And remember, we are here to help faculty in trouble (but we can only represent UFF members, so join today).

Getting Out the Vote

The Economist recently compared what American people told pollsters what they wanted to what American politicians were doing, and concluded that unlike in other industrial nations, American politicians are not doing what Americans want. This is not a novel observation, and there is a tendency to blame the politicians, but the problem might not be with our politicians.

"We have met the enemy," said Walt Kelly's Pogo, "and he is us." Barely half of the electorate votes in general elections. Wikipedia observes that this is a global trend featuring a decline in social engagement and an increase in participation in boycotts, demonstrations, donations, and other short-term political activities that do not affect politicians as directly as election outcomes.

Meanwhile, the American Medical Association claims that voting is a "social determinant of health". Part of this may be that politicians have to pay attention to people who vote. Part of this may be the psychological effect of having done something substantial.

Turning to our calling as teachers, if we want to inspire our students to do their duty as citizens (that's the admittedly old-fashioned way of looking at it), one of the most effective ways to teach is by example. The Florida primary is on August 23 and the deadline to register to vote in the primary is this coming Monday, 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.

Citizenship being an important part of education, the United Faculty of Florida is launching a UFF Votes campaign complete with #UFFvotes twitter account. But what can you tell your students, other than you voted (and displaying your "I voted" sticker)? You can encourage students to vote, although you should not tell them how to vote (that would probably turn them off, anyway): UFF has sent out a UFF General Election Guidance for faculty who would like to encourage young citizens.


The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, July 22, at 12:00, in CPR 466, and on 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 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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