On Thursday October 1, Susan Jeffords sent out an email encouraging Chairs, Deans, and other supervisors to
“recognize that it may be difficult for those with the responsibility to care for others in their homes to participate in meetings during daytime hours. A number of adaptations can increase flexibility, such as recording meetings, providing breaks, or scheduling shorter meetings. I asked deans to work with faculty to prioritize committee and department work during our remote period so that essential work can be completed.”
As many in our community are aware, faculty, especially women who take on the extra burdens of child and elder parent caregiving, are at risk of "Burning Out." As the New York Times reported this week, “The pandemic has been brutal on many working mothers... Experts say it may be uniquely unforgiving for mothers in so-called up-or-out fields, where workers face a single high-stakes promotion decision. The loss of months or more of productivity to additional child care responsibilities, which fall more heavily on women, can reverberate throughout their careers.”
While we were happy to receive some recognition from our Provost of the impact of caregiving on our workload, we hope to hear of more concrete actions that admin will take to assist those of us who are really struggling to manage work and home responsibilities during this pandemic. Merely asking chairs to be “flexible” is not enough. We hope to report additional gains on this front in the near future. In the meantime, remember: you have leave options available to you and we also encourage you to talk with your supervisor about flexibility. For those instructional faculty who might not be able to take leaves due to the nature of our workflow, please talk to your chair about determining the difference between what needs to be done now and what can be tabled. AAUP is available to assist you in navigating this conversation. Please reach out if you need our help.
Additionally, please note that we as a union recognize that so many of us are experiencing accumulated stress, anxiety and depression. The Public Employee Benefit’s Board does provide free counseling services under their Employee Assistance Program (EAP).