Statement from FSU Women’s Studies Advisory Board

This statement was written by the Women’s Studies Advisory Board and endorsed by a number of faculty members. We are posting it here because the Board was told that they had to remove it from the university website unless they first got permission.

WGSS Statement on FSU proposed change to remote working policy whilst caring for dependents.

COVID-19 has laid bare existing social, economic and racial inequities and injustices in the United States, and in our institutions of Higher Education. Grave gender disparities in the average distribution of caregiving work have been documented, while job security and the right to work remotely, ensuring safety and convenience, are opportunities afforded only to the most privileged. FSU’s recent announcement that “effective August 7, 2020, the University will return to normal policy and no longer allow employees to care for children while working remotely” presents a threat to the physical, emotional and job security of the university’s employees. This threat will be felt most urgently by the lowest-paid members of staff, who are disproportionately female-identifying and/or BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). As a result, it will compound existing inequities. Unpaid FMLA is not a viable option for many, and especially not for the lowest-paid employees. The policy is sexist, heterosexist, racist, and ableist. FSU must now do the right thing and reinstate the right to work remotely whilst caring for dependents (children or otherwise) for all FSU employees, staff, faculty and graduate students, until the end of the global pandemic. In a university, where we are guided by science, medicine, and expertise, we must acknowledge that the pandemic is not under control, and act with both wisdom and humanity.

BIPOC have contracted and died from COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates. BIPOC and women disproportionately occupy contingent positions in the labor market and in academia. These disparities are obvious in academia generally and at FSU specifically. During the pandemic, scholars identifying as women and scholars with caring roles have seen their workloads increase and their academic output decrease; racial injustices and racist policies serve to exacerbate this situation for BIPOC women scholars. Staff positions are even more disproportionately held by women and BIPOC. Pre-tenure and specialized faculty, and graduate teaching and grading assistants are particularly at risk amongst faculty. As an institution committed to diversity and inclusion, FSU should be working to support employees with dependents, not forcing them into making impossible choices which may have dire consequences for their financial situations, as well as their mental and physical health. The policy clarification sent on June 29 seems to indicate that faculty are exempt from the policy, but even if this is the case, we must still be concerned for staff, many of whom can work very effectively from home, and who have been doing so very productively in an emergency situation since mid-March. This alone, surely, is evidence that remote work while caregiving for children or other dependents is a workable model that supports families and the work of the university.

It is insufficient and iniquitous to argue that the policy of dispensation for high-risk employees or those with high-risk children addresses these gender, financial, and racial disparities.

Children are not the only dependents FSU employees are caring for at home during the global pandemic, but we will address this issue first as these are the dependents singled out by the wording of the FSU policy. Before COVID-19 cases began to spike in Florida, Leon County Schools announced that there will be a Face-to-Face option for the 2020-21 school year, starting August 10, alongside two virtual options, but as yet, there is no information available to caregivers about what these options will look like in practice. The superintendent has said that masks are political and will not be mandated in schools, contrary to Leon County’s mask-wearing mandate and FSU’s own stance on mask-wearing upon return to campus. As we know, children can and do contract COVID-19, and they can also pass it to their families and others. Many FSU employees with dependent children may not be comfortable sending their children back to school with infection rates rising precipitously locally and state-wide, regardless of whether those employees qualify for high-risk dispensations. Many faculty, staff, and students will rightly fear risking their families’ safety by sending children to school or daycare, and childcare is likely to become increasingly difficult to find. The potential loss of ‘efficiency’ or ‘productivity’ by employees who are parents with children at home is greatly outweighed by the risk of lost work if they or one of their dependents contracts COVID-19 because they were forced to put their children back in school.

When classes resume in the Fall, many students will also find themselves in caregiving roles, whether tending to younger siblings, to children of their own, or to relatives. In order to provide a good model for our students, to maintain employee morale, and to act justly, the university must develop a coherent and humane policy regarding childcare and dependent care and remote work. The university has had no cause, up until now, to doubt the loyalty or effectiveness of its employees, and it must continue to accord those members of the community who are parents and caretakers the bare respect they deserve by trusting that they will continue their admirable contributions to the mission of the university while parenting.

The undersigned faculty of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies appreciate your attention.

The Advisory Board of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies:

Maxine Jones
Charles Upchurch
Cathy McClive
Alisha Gaines
Robin Goodman
Antonio Cuyler
Aline Kalbian
Aimee Boutin
Leslie Richardson
Taylor Tobias
Paul Renfro
Additional signatories:
Andrea Westlund
Rhea Estelle Lathan
Tracie Mahaffey
Mallary Rawls
Beth Boatwright
Lindsey Wharton
Bridgett Birmingham
Nicole Morse
Sophia Rahming
Lisa Schelbe
Karin Brewster
Christine Andrews-Larson
Jenny Root
Roxanne Hughes
Katrinell Davis
Candace Ward
Ravi Howard
Diane Roberts
John Ribó
Andrew Epstein
Anne Coldiron
Gary Taylor
Barry Faulk
Shantel Gabrieal Buggs
Tarez Graban
Sarah Stanley
Michael Neal
Ashley Enos
Camille Thomas
Jude Marr
Petra Doan
Kathryn Tillman
Lindsey Eckert
Doug Schrock
April Jackson
Meegan Kennedy
Molly Hand
Dave Rodriguez
Andy Opel
Preethi Gorecki
David F. Johnson
Aaron Jaffe
Jamila Horabin
Donna Marie Nudd
Sophie McCoy
Judith Pascoe
Stephanie Pau
Daniel K. Okamoto
Mariana Fuentes 
Sarah Lester
Emily DuVal
Sonia Haiduc
Laura McTighe
Xan Nowakowski
CyNedra Flanagan
Andrew Rassweiler
Jamie Fumo
Brittany Closson-Pitts
Tisha Holmes
Angelina Sutin
Lama Jaber
Deana Rohlinger
Rachel Smart
Megan Groninger
Jessica Malo 
Matthew E. Hunter
Annette Schwabe
Miles Taylor
Kristin Ervin
Rob DuarteLaura
Laura Miller
Silvia Valisa
Kimberly A. Hughes
Irene Zanini-Cordi
Amy Baco-Taylor
Teresa Roach
Sandy Wong
James E. Wright II
Shannon Davidson
Daniel Fay
Erica Staehling
Koji Ueno
Elizabeth Coggeshall
Michaela Hulstyn
Denise Bookwalter
Lisa Tripp
Julianna Baggott
Kerry Fang
Sage Ponder
Holly Hanessian
Matthew Goldmark
Jason Maurer
Andrew Syder
Jessica Ingram
Daniel Luedtke 
Anel Brandl 
Meredith Lynn
Jed Kaleko
Judy Rushin
Jeff Beekman
Terri LIndbloom
Melinda Gonzales Backen
Valerie Scoon
Kristin Dowell
Anne Stagg
Estrella Rodriguez
Katherine Easterling
Carolina González
Jennifer Atkins
Alexa Guerrera
Christian Weber
Matthew Schumm
John Mac Kilgore
(6.55pm ET – Wednesday July 1)

Happy New Year

Colleagues –

On behalf of the UFF and the UFF Executive Committee, I’d like to wish you
all the very best for the New Year and for the upcoming semester.

2015 was busy and productive. Our bargaining team made good progress in several areas during negotiations, much as the result of years-long discussions.

As many of you are aware, Market Equity raises were implemented for the first time last fall. Both Administration and the UFF agree that these are just a first step to raising
FSU salaries to market levels across the board, and look forward to continued progress in this area during next spring’s bargaining sessions. These raises, added to an across-the-board increase for all faculty, both regular and specialized, and increased amounts available for Administrative Discretionary Increases, placed FSU’s average salary increase at the very top of all schools in the State University System. Our priorities moving forward will be negotiating cost-of-living increases, continued progress in Market Equity, and increased focus on raises for Specialized Faculty. We’re not there yet, but we’re making progress.

For the first time, faculty members on nine-month appointments now have the option
of being paid over twelve months in equal increments. For those who did not have the
opportunity to take advantage of this option last summer, there will be another enrollment period in August 2016.

Legislative priorities will continue to challenge us during the upcoming Session. Again, reflecting faculty sentiment, we will be out front in opposition to bills allowing guns on campus. We are concerned about how the Legislature proposes codifying the same performance metrics for every stage college and university, regardless of specialty, history, or need. This micro-management could result in a punitive application of arbitrary standards rather than a serious, reasoned examination of the quality of each institution. We’ll also be following issues of higher education access and textbook affordability.

More information on each of these issues will be posted as appropriate later this winter. The results of our December faculty poll will be online shortly after January 1, and will be an important factor in determining our bargaining priorities when that process starts in February.

On the social side, we continue to invite colleagues to meet and greet, usually on the last Friday of each month. Our UFF Goes to the Opera event was very well received, with over 120 UFF members and guests in attendance. We are continuing to increase our membership, and are grateful to all who have joined. Once again, we can only be as strong as our numbers.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact any one of us with questions or concerns.
And again, wishing all a productive and Happy New Year.

Very best regards,

Matthew