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CFA COVID-19 Message: CFA Advocates for Member Safety, Looks to Fall 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this note finds you safe and healthy. Circumstances are changing constantly, but I know CFA faculty remain dedicated to our students, our colleagues, and our communities.

As we grapple with the impacts of COVID-19, the air has been heavy with bad news. But all around us, we have seen countless stories of perseverance and triumph during these traumatic times. We’ve seen companies and non-profit organizations partner with the CSU and California to provide laptops and internet access to thousands of students.  CFA colleagues with virtual teaching experience are sharing lesson plans and activities. Faculty have become more active through CFA to demand that their voices be heard and their safety be protected.  We are encouraging mutual aid between colleagues and friends so that we can lean on each other.  I am proud of the resilience faculty are showing in the face of such uncertainty.  We will get through this together.

Since campuses began to shift to remote activities – and faculty have had to transition from in-person to virtual instruction and resource delivery – CFA has diligently advocated for support and relief on all of the 23 campuses. We have successfully obtained agreements from campus administrations to extend probationary periods for tenure line faculty, and to adjust peer evaluations and the use of student evaluations given the circumstances faculty and students are living in right now. On many campuses, we had to advocate that appropriate safety measures be taken on behalf of counselor, coach, and librarian faculty members who remained on campuses weeks beyond the suspension of in-person classes.

The majority of CFA chapters are meeting with campus administrations weekly.  At these meetings, chapter leadership are addressing day-to-day issues, as well as resolving larger matters such as MOU’s around evaluations and protections for lecturer faculty.  Such resolute and passionate leadership by CFA members is inspiring.

Now, with an eye towards Summer and Fall terms, we continue to demand safe working conditions. CFA member-leaders have been meeting regularly with Chancellor’s Office representatives to raise issues of concern, and to relay information shared by our chapter leaders across the CSU. Upcoming meetings will address the impacts of the pandemic on our working conditions for the Fall semester and beyond.  Unfortunately, we have been unable to get clear answers at times. For example, several news outlets have reported that Cal State Fullerton intends to cancel classes this fall and remain virtual. We have received conflicting reports about whether or not this news story is true. We do know that no one has contacted faculty or the union about such a decision for Fall. We plan to be in touch with faculty in CFA Headlines and other communications this week as we learn more.

We are pleased that, so far, students have remained enrolled, even on quarter campuses where some feared significant drop offs. To be sure, the shift to virtual learning coupled with the demands of living in this crisis has been difficult for so many of our students. I am deeply proud of my colleagues for supporting our students throughout the pandemic. I know there is a lot of speculation about our common future right now. When preparing for upcoming terms, CFA urges a data-driven approach guided by strategic goals that do not cause panic or confusion. We will also advocate that faculty not be required to provide free labor over the summer to transition courses to virtual instruction.

To support our continued advocacy, please sign up to be a CFA member if you haven’t already.  You can also visit CFA’s COVID-19 resource page that’s updated throughout the week.  If you have specific questions, please contact your chapter leadership: contact information for northern California chapters is here and here for southern California chapters.

Let us continue to elevate each other and our students.  On Wednesday, many of us will be celebrating Earth Day, a time to honor our planet and advocate for environmental justice.  I know that I will be spending some time in the sun and enjoying the outdoors with my dog; I hope you can find the time to do the same to lift your spirits and clear your mind.

 

Charles Toombs, Ph.D.
President, California Faculty Association
Professor
Department of Africana Studies
San Diego State University

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