25 Feb Fall Reopening Plans Dictated, Then Retracted
- Policies Made, Then Retracted: 48 hours ago, UICUF began receiving documents outlining instructional methods (in-person v. remote) for a fall reopening. The Provost has since walked back these plans after being questioned by the Senate and the Union.
- No Consultation: The parameters described would’ve stripped members of instructional autonomy and denied workers and students the chance to choose safety for themselves and loved ones. Neither our union, the Senate, nor Student Government were consulted.
- This Kind of Decision Making Must Change: Though the plans shared with units were seemingly walked back by administration, they’re emblematic of the unaccountable and opaque decision making we’ve been fighting since before the pandemic.
- What We All Deserve: Every person, from students to faculty, deserves the right to choose safety. Moreover, we have the right to be a part of decisions made about our safety, and our working and learning environments.
- What You Can Do: We encourage you to join us for our Representative Assembly Meeting next Wednesday, 3/3/21 from 12pm-1:30, where we’ll discuss these issues in detail. If you are privy to other directives regarding fall reopening, please email us
Starting about 48 hours ago, we began receiving convincing documentation indicating that plans had already been made to mandate course delivery methods (in-person v. remote) for Fall 2021. These documents came from multiple units, several featuring identical language, which strongly suggested a broad policy had been created. That policy appeared in particular to dictate that all classes, labs, and sections under 50 students would be forced to meet on campus.
After our colleagues in the Senate Executive Committee pushed back yesterday, the Provost seemed to acknowledge that she had made broad policy decisions about reopening the campus this fall without any pretense of shared governance. She asserted, however, that the specifics in the emails shared with faculty were inconsistent with those policy decisions. Today, at a meeting of the Academic Planning Task Force, which UICUF has a seat on, we learned that the plan is to give Deans the authority — and with input from faculty — to determine modality for classes under 100.
As the dust settles, the administration hopefully now recognizes that it must communicate thoroughly–and responsibly. We are seeking some kind of confirmation as to whether any policies have been finalized, and what those policies actually may be.
This Kind of Decision Making Must Stop
Regardless of the outcome, it certainly appears that despite assuring a variety of stakeholders that they would be consulted in the decision-making process, the administration simply decided to make more unilateral decisions and let us know after the fact. These plans and/or policies were made without the input or knowledge of UICUF or the UIC Graduate Employees Organization, even as we are both currently conducting impact bargaining over these exact issues. The decisions were also apparently made without the prior knowledge or consultation of the University Senate, the undergraduate leadership, or even the planning committee formed by the provost herself explicitly to handle these exact questions. At this moment, it’s not entirely clear whether the administration intends to actually engage with these groups, or simply back off to replan again in isolation from the people who are most affected by these decisions, and who also have crucial knowledge and perspectives essential to sound decision making on these issues.
We have, sadly and frequently, been here before. Less than a year ago, union members pushed to have the administration adopt safety benchmarks and assure workers and students of the autonomy to choose methods of instruction based on their personal needs and professional judgments. The administration chose at every phase to resist a transparent and participatory planning process, keeping thousands of workers and students in the dark until just days before the start of the academic year.
Every person in the UIC ecosystem, including students, staff, grad workers, and faculty, deserves the option to choose safety in real time, and an assurance from administration that the right to safety will be upheld. Moreover, we all deserve a say in decisions being made that will affect our health, our work, and our education. We have, and will continue to call on the administration to make any reopening planning transparent and participatory for all stakeholders involved.
What You Can Do
We are continuing to seek more clarity directly from the administration. We are also in discussion with stakeholders from all the aforementioned affected groups. We cannot, however, simply wait until another tone-deaf policy memo appears in our inboxes. So we are asking that you join us at our Representative Assembly Meeting next Wednesday, 3/3/21, from 12-1:30pm, to discuss this issue, and how we can reimagine the decision-making process at UIC that led to this chaotic series of events. All members are welcome, and we will plan further actions around this issue with further input from that meeting. If you are not able to attend the meeting, we also welcome you sending your thoughts and concerns to UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.
UIC United Faculty
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