Editor’s Note: The following open letter was sent earlier to the university administration. It has been given to The Review so that it may be more widely read by the broader university community.
Dear President Assanis, Provost Morgan, and the Upper Leadership Team,
With the greatest of respect and kindness, the Faculty Senate, the Graduate Student Government, Student Government Association, and the AAUP wanted to write to you regarding a couple of recommendations. These come from faculty and students who are directly contacting us as well as from our own leadership.
First, we want to express our grave concerns about the current COVID spike and safety of in-class teaching for our students and faculty. We recognize the density on campus is currently low, the vaccination rates are high, and that the current outbreak will subside in the coming month. Never-the-less, because of the record infection rates, the number of breakthrough cases, and the news of low efficacy of the common cloth face masks during multi-hour interactions like a winter course, we are extremely worried that a decision was made to return to the classroom this week instead of maintaining a remote teaching modality. If there was ever a time to act “out of an abundance of caution”, this is the moment. We ask that you reconsider online teaching for the remainder of the Winter Session.
Second, we are becoming increasingly worried that these decisions are being made without any consultation with faculty and students through our representative bodies. Unfortunately, to our knowledge, the Provost’s Emergency Academic Task Force (which included 2 students and 2 faculty members) and the Executive COVID Planning Task Force (which included 3 students and 4 faculty) have not met since the Fall of 2020. Alternatively, if they have been meeting over the last 15 months, the student and faculty members have not been invited to share recommendations and constituents concerns. Instead, our organizations have had to rely on requested individual meetings, letters, and resolutions to have our concerns and recommendations heard. Because of this lack of engaged shared governance, students and faculty are increasingly reaching out to our representative bodies expressing concern that decision making during this continued public health emergency is not considering the worries and recommendations of the constituent base.
Therefore, we politely ask and encourage the Administration to return to regular multi-stakeholder planning meetings to assure the voices of the students and faculty are being considered. Please know that we write to you with no animosity and have only the greatest of respect for you and your efforts during these difficult times. We share your common goal of protecting the safety of our students, faculty, and the University’s long-term wellbeing! Therefore we hope these concerns and recommendations provide you valuable ideas for decision making in the future. We appreciate your time, consideration, and continued dedication to shared governance.
Dr. Chris Williams, President of the Faculty Senate
Bill Repetto, President of the Graduate Student Government
Kasiyah Tatem, President of the Student Government Association; as well as the Student Government Association Full Executive Cabinet
Dr. Deni Galileo, President of the AAUP and Former President of the Faculty Senate
Dr. Nancy Getchell, President-Elect of the Faculty Senate
Dr. Charlie Boncelet, Past President of the Faculty Senate
Dr. Amy Hagstrom, Vice President of the Faculty Senate and Former President of the Faculty Senate
Dr. Stacey Chirnside, Vice President of the AAUP
Dr. Martha Buell, Contract Maintenance Officer of the AAUP and Former President of the Faculty Senate
Dr. Mike O’Neal, Grievance Officer of the AAUP