Administrators are at odds with faculty on COVID-19, compensation, and more
Recent concerns surrounding the university’s responses to COVID-19 and its subsequent consequences have revealed a sense of misgiving regarding the relationship with the administration, faculty, and students. These tensions came to a head at a January Faculty Senate meeting, at which faculty came together and discussed the major problems facing the university — most of which are in the hands of the administration.
The three most pressing concerns, according to an open letter to CSU leadership that resulted from the meeting, were the lack of shared governance between the administration and faculty (especially regarding CSU 2.0), the lack of fair compensation, and the COVID response by the administration. These concerns — which represent only the most pressing, not the extent of concerns present — must be rectified if CSU intends to maintain its impressive faculty line-up and atmosphere.
In their letter, Faculty Senate President Dr. Robert Krebs claimed that they have all but been ignored regarding the implementation of CSU 2.0. While the Faculty Senate has jurisdiction regarding all curricular matters, the administration has not consulted them in their plan of implementation for CSU 2.0.
In fact, the faculty assert that “not one programmatic proposal has even started through the obligatory committee procedures described in the Personnel Policies of CSU.” It seems impossible that CSU 2.0’s college realignment will be completed by its expected deadline of Fall 2022 unless the administration intends to entirely skirt the approval process.
The administration has required “confidentiality,” which has “prevented units from even knowing about some discussed changes.” Rather than justifying “a rushed or altered approval process when the information is finally released… [the confidentiality] instill[s] confusion and fear among faculty across programs,” the letter stated.
Compounding this confusion and chaos amongst faculty, there has been a “clean sweep” at the level of the deans, removing leadership members and a sense of stability. It is not that the faculty does not want to support the merging of colleges proposed by the CSU 2.0 plan. Rather, the faculty is concerned with how these mergers are being implemented.
Instead of keeping faculty out of all decision-making out of fear of being shut down, the administration would find a much higher success if they simply allowed their proposed plan to follow the proper channels, including approval by the Faculty Senate at every level.
Despite a higher workload resulting from COVID-19 and the administration being adamant about fully in-person classes, faculty have not received pay that reflects the extra work that must be done to adequately deliver their classes, nor to accommodate for inflation, which is at a recent high of 7%.
While the administration has been singing the faculty’s praises, it is an empty compliment unless backed with adequate compensation. They are facing “significant defacto cuts” and are “uniformly disappointed, insulted, demoralized, and discouraged” at the administration’s apparent lack of appreciation for their hard work.
If the faculty makes CSU what it is, shouldn’t they be respected and properly compensated? Throughout the pandemic, faculty adapted their lessons and class structures to suit online learning. They took on added stress and work in order to help students achieve a seamless transition, only to then be forced to readjust just as quickly because the administration was adamant that every class possibly returned to in-person classes in Fall 2021.
If faculty members get sick, they are “still expected, if at all able, to continue their duties while sick.” Not only that but faculty were not provided N95 or KN95 masks, which offer the highest level of protection against COVID-19. On top of the lack of consideration for faculty members’ physical and mental health, the administration has not kept adequate records of COVID infections at the university.
Clearly, the university and faculty are not on the same page. Professors have confessed to students that they do not agree with forcing classes to be entirely in person. They have also explained that they fought for a vaccine mandate but got nowhere. If the administration wants to continue improving CSU, they must make the faculty members feel safe and heard.
If the administration continues ignoring faculty when making big decisions and not providing adequate pay for their increased workloads, they will continue losing faculty members. The quality of education being delivered to students- the most important aspect of universities- will suffer tremendously because of the high turnover and uncompetitive pay. The administration needs to listen to the voices that matter: the faculty members.