Promoting Quality Higher Education– An Investment in Oregon’s Future


Grace and Flexibility for PSU Workers

September 22, 2020 / PSU-AAUP

Greetings PSU-AAUP Members,

What a week! What a year! We at PSU-AAUP hope that all of you are safe and well and managing as best as could be expected during what has just been an incredibly difficult spring, summer, and….is it fall yet? You’ve been managing children without any reliable childcare and putting on a new hat as a homeschool teacher; you’re homes have been filled with unhealthy air, causing headaches and respiratory challenges; you’ve been out in the streets or supporting from your homes the fight for racial justice; you’ve been thinking about how best to meet our students' needs during these difficult times. And and and. We feel you. (Or is it just us?).

While we are excited to meet our students returning to their studies next week, we do want to acknowledge that a lot of you are experiencing an incredible number of challenges. 

We encourage you to attend President Percy’s town hall on Wednesday and share with him both all of the work you have been doing and any challenges you may be facing. What can PSU do to better support you in navigating this unprecedented Fall term? 

You may have seen President Steve Percy’s recent email about the Fall term, in which he asked faculty and staff to extend much-needed support to our students through this unprecedented time:

… we are mindful that students who have been displaced by the fires may be unable to start classes on time. We ask faculty and graduate teaching assistants to please accommodate to the fullest extent possible all students who are firefighters or wildfire evacuees by considering the following:

  • Allow students who are firefighters or wildfire evacuees to delay attendance in your classes up to October 11;
  • Extend due dates for assignments for these delayed students and help them catch up accordingly.

As fellow Oregonians, we recognize the importance of working to make these kinds of accommodations in order to support our students’ success this Fall term. However, we also note that many PSU workers are also affected by these multiple crises, and would make the following similar request in return of PSU administration:

… we are mindful that faculty and staff who have been displaced by the fires, impacted by school closures and furloughs, and/or impacted by hazardous air quality may be unable to start Fall term on time or at full capacity. We ask supervisors and administrators to please accommodate to the fullest extent possible workers who are firefighters or wildfire evacuees or otherwise affected by external factors by considering the following:

  • Allow workers who are firefighters or wildfire evacuees to delay full-time work up to October 11;
  • Extend project deadlines and provide supplementary staffing for these delayed workers and help them catch up accordingly;
  • Allow all workers affected by recent crises extra time and flexibility to support them in navigating this challenging time.

Over the last six months, PSU faculty and staff have stepped up numerous times to keep our university running. We have turned homes into offices (mostly at our own personal expense), we have redeveloped our courses to work in a remote format, we have extended deadlines and shown grace towards our students, and we have picked up the slack when essential staff were put on furlough for an extended period. Those of us who are parents have done all of this while also acting as K-12 teachers and full-time caregivers in the face of extended school closures that are beyond our control. 

It is imperative that PSU supervisors and administrators start extending the same level of grace and flexibility to faculty and staff that they implore faculty and staff to extend to our students. Our working conditions are students’ learning conditions. If we are stretched too thin, we cannot do our jobs to our own or our students’ satisfaction.

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