FA News: 11/30/2016

Dear Colleagues,

Lots going on right now, so pardon the length of this message.

1. Faculty Town Hall this afternoon

The town hall the FA is co-sponsoring with the Faculty Senate will kick off at 4:00 this afternoon in Parkinson 124. Please join us for a conversation about the role of faculty in addressing the budget crisis.

2. DRC to vote on draft contract

The DRC will meet at 5 pm Thursday evening in Parkinson 202 to discuss the new tentative agreement between our bargaining team and the administration team. We anticipate a vote by the DRC on whether to recommend approval of the agreement. All FA members are welcome to attend.

3. Diversity on campus

One of the purposes of the FA is to promote diversity on campus. Here is the relevant goal from our bylaws:

2-G. To promote the attainment of a diverse faculty and student body and to resist any unreasonable discriminatory practices in the hiring, promotion, or retention of faculty because of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, disability, or political affiliation.

As a campus community, we are dedicated to freedom of expression and free inquiry. This includes allowance for all points of view, including those many or even most of us may find objectionable. But we cannot tolerate hate crimes, threats of violence, or harassment of any sort. All members of our community must continue to feel welcome here. We call upon the university administration, and indeed on all at SIU, to do all they can to enable all people, including those from groups too often singled out for attack in the current climate, to continue to flourish here. This emphatically includes the “dreamers,” undocumented students, many of who have been in this country since they were young children. In this spirit, we share two announcements.

1. A workshop, facilitated by campus student leaders, will be held about how faculty can be better allies to students of color and those many others who feel threatened, insecure, and anxious in light of the current socio-political climate in our nation. The first meeting will be a foundational discussion about modeling behaviors of intervention and advocacy. Such behaviors will allow students to feel more confident both in seeking our assistance and counsel, and in engaging in advocacy behavior themselves in order to  create a positive outcome.  Speakers will include recent SIU graduate Mary Margaret Kelly, 3rd year SIU law student Adriana Bicanin, and SIU Ph.D student Jonathan Flowers. The workshop will take place on December 5, at 5 pm in the Humanities Lounge, 2302 Faner Hall.

2. The two student governments at SIUC have developed a letter petitioning the administration to turn SIUC into a sanctuary campus for undocumented students. A number of colleges and universities have joined this movement, which has been endorsed by the AAUP. The SIUC petition can be found here: https://goo.gl/forms/Ttd10tK8wdiAAUUm2.

4.  Health insurance

President Dunn provided an update about looming changes to employee health insurance in his “SIU Connection” message sent today. I attach a detailed fact sheet I have received from the IEA, which outlines the very serious impact these changes would have on university faculty. For example, professors currently making $65,000 now pay $3,570 in annual premiums; by FY 19 they could be paying $8,901. That’s 13.7% of a $65,000 base salary, up from 5.5% currently–a huge cut in take-home pay in years during which salary increases are unlikely.

It is worth stressing, I think, that these cuts are not yet a done deal, and that public opinion and public pressure can still have an impact. We can support AFSCME in its continuing efforts to protect our benefits. AFSCME is planning a legal appeal, and we can support AFSME in its call for the governor to return to the bargaining table and alter his draconian “last, best, and final” offer. AFSCME also has the right to strike should it judge that the only way to protect state employees. If you object to having to choose between doubling your insurance premiums or halving your insurance benefits, contact your state legislators and the governor and give them a piece of your mind.

In solidarity,

Dave Johnson
President, SIUC-FA

About Dave Johnson
I'm an Associate Professor in Classics and currently (fall 2016) President of the SIUC Faculty Association.

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