Here is a link to our previous communication sent in December regarding the administration’s decision to delay enforcement of the Covid 19 vaccination mandate until the end of spring semester. We are resending it as some Faculty may have missed it during the busy period at the end of fall semester.
As I wrote then, the purpose of vaccine mandates is to ensure the health and safety of everyone on all of our UC campuses, and there is no dispute that the higher the vaccine rates, the safer our community will be. This decision to delay enforcement of this policy sent a message that the Administration does not value the safety of UC faculty, staff, or students.
In the wake of this December communication, Dean Ferme offered and I agreed to schedule regular meetings to better communicate on issues such as this. The initial meetings have been productive.
We expect that UC will keep the vaccination deadline at the end of this current semester. Although Covid 19 numbers are currently declining, this is still an unprecedented health risk and a serious concern to the overwhelming majority of Faculty.
Connie Kendall Theado
Working With the Faculty Senate to Fight Educational Gag Orders
State legislatures across the nation have passed legislation barring the teaching of “divisive concepts.” In some states, this legislation excludes teaching about race and gender at the university level. Faculty senates at Michigan State, Portland State, DePaul University, Molloy College, and the Universities of Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Minnesota, and Oregon have all passed resolutions defending academic freedom and rejecting such educational gag orders. Please join in a discussion about the importance of these resolutions to the preservation of education and why institutions of higher education need to commit to ideologically free classrooms.
Two members of the African American Policy Forum, DePaul University professor Valerie Johnson and Portland State professor Jennifer Ruth (who also serves on the AAUP’s Committee A), will lead the webinar and answer questions about how to use shared governance to fight back against this assault on academic freedom. Resources to pursue the resolution campaign on your campus will be provided.
Feb 17, 2022 01:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Link to register: https://www.aaup.org/event/webinar-working-faculty-senate-fight-educational-gag-orders
The UC Administration recently announced that the vaccine mandate for students will not be enforced until after the Spring 2022 semester. AAUP-UC strongly believes that this decision is wrong-headed and dangerous. We are also deeply troubled by the lack of shared governance leading up to the decision, along with the poor communication surrounding it.
The purpose of vaccine mandates is to ensure the health and safety of everyone on all of our UC campuses, and there is no dispute that the higher the vaccine rates, the safer our community will be. Failing to enforce the mandate for students makes our campuses less safe. Numerous other universities, including regional neighbors Miami University and Xavier University, have shown thoughtful leadership by enforcing sound vaccination policies that protect their faculty, staff, and students. UC has failed by comparison.
This decision to delay enforcement of this policy sends a message that the Administration does not value the safety of UC faculty, staff, or students. Such a message not only damages morale but also threatens recruitment and retention. The decision also compromises the Administration’s credibility to enforce health and safety measures—and disciplinary actions more generally—moving forward. A mandate that turns out not to be mandatory is not a mandate at all. Accordingly, many students and employees will conclude that they don’t have to take the Administration’s word seriously.
Finally, the way this decision was communicated to Faculty and Staff effectively obscured this critical policy change. Remarkably, there has been no direct communication from President Pinto. Instead, the news was buried in a routine-looking “update” email from Provost Ferme and was delivered while Faculty were wrapping up exams and finalizing grades.
In light of this ill-considered policy change, AAUP-UC demands that the Administration takes the following actions:
- Announce and enforce increased testing and masking requirements, along with other well-established health and safety protocols. A mask mandate must be maintained and enforced on all UC campuses during Spring semester.
- Design and implement an effective strategy to communicate these safety protocols to the entire UC community. This strategy must include engagement at the presidential level.
- Prohibit students from enrolling in Summer 2022 or subsequent semesters unless they have been fully compliant with the current mandate. We implore the administration to use the leverage of preventing future enrollment, which is a concrete consequence that has a better chance of shaping student behavior than a vague threat of disciplinary action at some point after the end of the semester.
- Locate additional vaccination and testing resources on the regional campuses, where rates of vaccination among students are lowest.
- Communicate the number of confirmed cases, vaccination rates, and other critical health and safety data to the UC community weekly.
- Schedule President Pinto to meet immediately with AAUP-UC and Faculty Senate representatives to discuss their concerns regarding health and safety issues and working conditions.
We believe these action steps provide the best path forward and will keep all of our campus communities as safe as they can be, given the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic that is still with us.
As always, the AAUP-UC stands ready to work with the Administration and Faculty Senate in an environment of shared governance.
AAUP-UC Executive Council
Emily Houh and Steve Mockabee presented the current Ohio bills aimed at restricting faculty across disciplines from discussing “divisive topics” in classrooms throughout Ohio. Take a look at their presentation to familiarize yourself with the proposed legislation and to see what action you can take to assist in maintaining academic freedom in Ohio. These bills, and those like them in other states, have the potential to chill the free exchange of ideas at universities and colleges and to violate core AAUP principles.