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Washington State University
Faculty Senate Concerns Test

Ask not what your university can do for you …

As faculty/staff as well as a graduate student, I have serious reservations about not requiring student vaccination. This pandemic is clearly still a danger to all, and without a commitment from everyone to the benefit of all, this university—already on shaky ground in several ways—will suffer horribly. Ask not what your university can do for you, after all: Ask what you can do for your university and its community.

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Covid 19 delta varient

Given the Delta variant is more contagious, leads to more breakthrough cases, especially in older adults or immunocompromised individuals, and makes children who are not vaccine eligible sick in a way that the original COVID strain did not, I am concerned about the lack of a mask mandate for classrooms. Many member of the campus community, such as myself, live in multi-generational homes. In order to keep our families and greater community safe I would like to recommend a mask mandate regardless of vaccination status.

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WSU contingency planning for the Delta variant

I am concerned about the lack of communication and contingency planning for the possibility that the Delta variant of the Covid virus causes a major rise in cases in the WSU community. Do we have plans in place, or at least under development, to fall back to on-line learning, social distancing, and mandatory masking? These are unpleasant possibilities but the community will, in my view, respond much more united and committed if the realities are laid out, plans are publicized well ahead of time, and specific benchmarks are identified that would trigger a contingency response. On the other hand, the lack of such public communication creates unnecessary doubt and concern that negatively affects the faculty’s preparations for the new school year.

Raymond Sun

Department of History

 

 

Vote tally: 3
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OneWSU Faculty Comment

From a faculty member who wishes to stay anonymous

The unilateral decision to execute the “white paper” for the OneWSU system is troubling on multiple levels. While administrative bloat is a trend in higher education (https://academeblog.org/2021/01/28/measures-of-administrative-bloat/), it remains supremely frustrating to not only see this trend magnified at WSU but in a fashion that directly diminishes the faculty voice. The feedback posted on this very same forum from the faculty highlighted the hasty fashion in which the OneWSU system was conceived. Instructional load discrepancies and mismatched research priorities across campuses establish the foundations for conflict when considering faculty for tenure and promotion. As a consequence, TT faculty at regional campuses are scarce and contingent faculty bear the largest burden for instruction. Conveniently for the administrative class, the voice of these valuable faculty members is muted by design. WSU is facing an existential crisis as the strongest, tenured voices retire only to be replaced (if at all) with contingent faculty. To magnify this problem, the system cannot bear the continued addition of administrators with no recent instruction experience and h-indices that would preclude them from tenure and promotion in 2021.

It is unclear what value the OneWSU system provides to the students and the long-term health of the institution when factoring in demographic changes in the college age population. Instead of maximizing the strengths at the university, President Schulz and Provost Chilton have put forth an ill-formed plan with minimal justification and poorly outlined details.

To arrive at a solution that maximizes the mission impact of the university, I challenge the administration to elevate WSU faculty members with an active role in instruction and research to make binding decisions on a path forward. What form might this take? Solutions include placing a rotating full professor on the President’s Executive Advisor, having an educator with voting rights on the Board of Regents, and placing a faculty member on the Provost’s Budget Committee from each campus (Yes, Dr. Barbosa-Leiker is a great addition, but even she will tell you that she cannot fully express the voice of the faculty). There are solutions to the challenges the university faces but stealthy efforts to maintain the status quo are a recipe for ruin.

Regards,

Anonymous Not-Full Professor

P.S. To preempt the administrative response, targeted cluster hires towards faculty with diverse backgrounds is a hollow attempt at addressing the decades-long neglect towards enriching the faculty.  Moreover, by continuing to ignore the voices of the faculty, the administration sends a clear signal to any faculty member, especially those from diverse backgrounds, that the present administration is not interested in to the voice of the diverse and the challenge of the change agent (e.g. Montoya and Jockers). This latter point is also why this letter is anonymous. Finally, yes there are budget challenges, yet hiring more administrators with fantasies of shadowbooked solutions is precisely what the eminent WSU alumnus, Lawrence Peter warned us about.

We need a mask mandate in the classroom

In light of the emergence and spread of the Delta variant, which seems to be making children more sick than the OG COVID-19, and causing more breakthrough infections in vaccinated people, it seems irresponsible to be sending instructors in full capacity classrooms where students will not be required to wear masks unless they are unvaccinated. Many instructors have young children at home who are not vaccine eligible and would thus be put at risk by parents’ exposure. The CDC is recommending mask wearing for indoors in areas of high transmission, which Whitman county is (and that is before the full return of students). As an institution of higher education, it would seem that following scientific standards should be at the forefront of our approach in this crisis. A mask mandate would not only protect our instructors and their families, it would also protect our students and our community.

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OneWSU Faculty Feedback 2021 2022

  • OneWSU Faculty Comment

    From a faculty member who wishes to stay anonymous

    The unilateral decision to execute the “white paper” for the OneWSU system is troubling on multiple levels. While administrative bloat is a trend in higher education (https://academeblog.org/2021/01/28/measures-of-administrative-bloat/), it remains supremely frustrating to not only see this trend magnified at WSU but in a fashion that directly diminishes the faculty voice. The feedback posted on this very same forum from the faculty highlighted the hasty fashion in which the OneWSU system was conceived. Instructional load discrepancies and mismatched research priorities across campuses establish the foundations for conflict when considering faculty for tenure and promotion. … » More …

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  • proliferation of senior administrative positions

    The new OneWSU org chart has 4 administrators with new “expanded” roles. It seems obvious that some or all of these will have to be duplicated in the future to separate their responsibilities. For example, certainly it would not seem appropriate for the VP for Research for the whole system to also be the Vice Chancellor of research for the Pullman campus. Overall this will lead to yet another new group of highly paid administrators just for the purpose of more efficient oversight? I would imagine that the Pullman Chancellor and Provost position will also get split in the near future, further increasing the amount … » More …

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testing

Why is WSU not screening and routinely testing for Covid-19? Why do we not have asymptomatic testing available even on a voluntary basis? Other universities seem to be able to handle the logistics, short-term, expense, etc. Why is it that we just do the minimum and then just hope it doesn’t blow up in our faces?

Vote tally: 3
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Fall 2021 mask mandates

Given changing guidance from the CDC for vaccinated people, and the likely spike in cases as many people move into town in August and begin mixing on and off campus, why not require all students, faculty, and staff to mask?

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proliferation of senior administrative positions

The new OneWSU org chart has 4 administrators with new “expanded” roles. It seems obvious that some or all of these will have to be duplicated in the future to separate their responsibilities. For example, certainly it would not seem appropriate for the VP for Research for the whole system to also be the Vice Chancellor of research for the Pullman campus. Overall this will lead to yet another new group of highly paid administrators just for the purpose of more efficient oversight? I would imagine that the Pullman Chancellor and Provost position will also get split in the near future, further increasing the amount of administrative bloat. We’ve lost many, many faculty across the university due to retirements and poaching over the last several years and have not been able to rehire due to system-wide financial problems, but our response from our administration is to reorganize with the probable addition of even more administrators. I guess that will help us do even more with less? How about instead, put together some significant hiring plans for tenure-track faculty without a lot of strings attached that puts departments back on firm footing again.

Kirk Peterson, WSU Pullman

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