LCC Faculty Colleagues,
I hope your Fall term is going well thus far. I’m writing with a number of important updates:
- Re-opening of Instructional Testing Services,
- Mac computer policy, RIF reports,
- Other labor relations updates,
- Vice President Academic Affairs search
- PERS retirement info sessions
- Two concerning new proposed Board of Ed policies
- One program reduction
- Campus climate survey results
- LCCEA social and other events
- Closing Thoughts
Instructional Testing Services restoration
LCCEA filed a grievance to pursue re-opening of proctored testing services in Instructional Testing Services (ITS), which is required by this year’s COVID MOA signed in August. Prior to the pandemic, ITS had served more than 180 distinct courses in 33 programs/ disciplines. LCC responded on Thursday with a commitment to re-open ITS for 20 hours per week beginning in Winter term. This is a step in the right direction to better meet faculty and student needs. More details will be forthcoming as we continue to work with the College toward full resolution. In the meantime, we appreciate the collaboration of Faculty Council in writing a strong statement of support for re-opening ITS as well. Thank you to our amazing Grievance Chair, Christina Howard, for work on this issue.
Mac Computer Policy
A number of faculty were impacted by a change in college practice over the summer that would have discontinued provision of Macs on campus. Anytime there is a change in policy or practice that impacts faculty working conditions, the College is required to provide notice to LCCEA and, if requested, negotiate over the impacts of the change. The College did not provide notice of the change in policy, but did reverse course after LCCEA issued a formal information request for details on any new Mac policy. Macs will again continue to be provided to faculty for use. LCCEA will continue to support affected faculty. Please contact email@example.com if you have any challenges with access to Macs.
RIF reports: Important for Contracted Faculty
RIF reports were sent to all contracted faculty (e.g., full-time faculty) on 10/17. It is especially important this year for faculty to review their reports in detail because we know of several errors already, including the following.
o The Humanities RIF unit list will need to be corrected and re-issued because it lacks the line that separates faculty within the unit and faculty outside the unit who are also certified in the unit. This line is important because it distinguishes between faculty who have “bumping rights” to another contracted position from those who do not. In either case, no bumping of contracted faculty would occur if there are additional sections available within the discipline.
o New contracted faculty who worked as part-time faculty at LCC in the past may be lacking seniority credit for their part-time service. Seniority units should be prorated and appear on the RIF list. If you were part-time at LCC before and are a new contracted faculty member and you see “0” units listed, your seniority is not correct, and your part-time service should be credited to you. (The maximum number of months credit for all contracted faculty is 10 months per year.)
o Some faculty are missing all the courses in their own discipline or program from their list.
Faculty are asked to fill out this RIF Report Review SoftDocs form and to submit it to HR before December 1. In addition, LCCEA requests that faculty complete this tracking form so that we can track all the corrections in one place and work with HR to ensure that all the lists are corrected.
Ad Hoc Fiscal Condition Taskforce
Rosa Lopez and I are serving on an Ad Hoc committee charged with receiving a report from external consultants hired to examine LCC’s fiscal condition. While the group has only two scheduled meetings and a rather limited scope, we are advocating that the consultants’ review be extensive to include, for instance, all funds within the budget, all real estate assets, and an examination of all debts, including the LCC-owned Titan Court apartment building – with debt payments of $17M scheduled through 2036 — which continues to divert precious resources away from the general fund and our instructional and student services mission.
One Program Reduction and A New FPD Program
The College is making one partial retrenchment and reassignment of a faculty member in the French program to take effect in January due to low enrollment and dearth of available sections. LCCEA and the College are working collaboratively to mitigate impacts on faculty.
In addition, the Faculty Professional Development Oversight Committee with the support of the LCCEA Executive Council has initiated a new program for contracted faculty members impacted by partial or full retrenchment (i.e., layoff) and transfer. The new program will allow contracted faculty to take professional leave time akin to sabbatical leave in order to update their skills to prepare to teach in a new discipline. Thank you to FPD Coordinator, Brooke Taylor, for her leadership in developing this new program.
Vice President for Academic Affairs Search – I resigned from the VPAA search last week due to ethical concerns about the process. I had been the only faculty member participating in the first phases of the search due to scheduling conflicts. Two additional faculty members were added last week.
Concerning New Board Policies
Two new policies were proposed for adoption by the Board of education last week.
The Board of Education is considering adopting a Copyright policy (See #3710 on p. 2 of proposed policies) such that the College would secure copyrights for works developed both by employees (e.g. faculty-developed course materials) and by students. This policy is problematic for two reasons.
First, it is not consistent with Art. 18 of the faculty contract, which protects faculty members’ intellectual property rights. Our contract provides that faculty retain intellectual property rights over their work as long as they have not received compensation (e.g., curriculum development funding) or release time specifically for the development of the work. If the College does not compensate or provide release to faculty specifically to develop work such as curriculum, the faculty member retains rights for what they have created. In addition, when the faculty member is compensated or released specifically for the purpose of producing materials, which are later used commercially, the faculty member retains equity in the materials after the college recovers its investment. This contract provision protecting faculty intellectual property rights has been in place since at least 1985. It is unclear why the administration would propose the Board adopt a policy that violates a contract with an employee group. Such a policy could not be enforced because contracts supersede policy.
Second, copyrighting OERs (open educational resources) developed by faculty would contravene the entire purpose of OERs, which is to provide access to free instructional materials to students and to share them among faculty within and across institutions. For OERs, a much more appropriate approach for faculty who create them and wish to share them would be to add open licenses to their works.
The Board is also considering a policy to restrict speech on campus (See #3900 on p. 11 of proposed policies). Government entities are allowed to place very limited restrictions on time, place, or manner of protected speech as long as the restrictions are: (1) content neutral; (2) narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest; and (3) there are ample alternative options for communication of the information.
LCC already has a “time, place, and manner” restriction policy for external groups who come on campus. This existing policy was developed by a College Council Taskforce after an outside anti-abortion group with extra-large format photos set up a display on Bristow Square a few years ago. The Taskforce, chaired by faculty member Jessica Alvarado, worked for a year to develop a policy that would not abrogate the Constitutional speech rights of outside groups, yet would provide some limitations on how, when, and where such speech could occur. The policy was fully supported by stakeholder groups and also underwent a legal review.
The new speech restriction policy that was presented to the Board was recommended based on the example of the outside anti-abortion group, even though LCC already has a time-place-manner policy that restricts outside groups. The existing policy was not mentioned. What the new Board policy would do is expand time, place and manner speech restrictions to everyone on campus, limiting speech by students, employees, employee unions, and anyone affiliated with LCC. Students and employees are already subject to disciplinary action if they were to take actions that are disruptive to the learning environment (e.g., shouting with a bullhorn into a math class – the example given in the Board meeting).
In addition, the new policy would designate all of LCC as a non-public forum, with the exception of some designated public fora. What this means is that the limited designated public fora would have restrictions that limit the time, place, and manner of speech (e.g., decibel level, poster size, timing). Speech such as student posters, union flyers, student government candidate signs, etc. could be limited to posting in the public forum locations and within the guidelines established.
Furthermore, the remainder of campus would be explicitly designated as a non-public forum. This means the rest of campus could have more stringent restrictions on speech. For instance, a model policy cited as an example for the Board limits the content and topics of posters in offices. “These spaces include and are not limited to offices, staff work areas, staff desks, bathrooms, mechanical and storage areas, labs, and classrooms. In Non-Public Forums, specific learning or business purposes drive use. Students, guests, and employees may be directed as to what topics and behaviors are appropriate in these spaces. Expressive activities inappropriate to the space may be redirected to another time and place.”
This should raise many red flags for faculty, students, and others. This is precisely the type of policy and legislation that is increasingly proposed across the country to limit speech that advocates for or protects marginalized groups. One example in Oregon is the Newberg School District, which prohibited students’ and employees’ display of pride flags and Black Lives Matter signs – which was the subject of a lawsuit that ultimately overturned the policy. See also the UCLA Critical Race Forward project tracking these efforts to ban symbols, language, and curriculum across the nation.
In addition, the proposed LCC Board policy also expressly protects students’ rights to wear buttons and badges, post to bulletin boards but makes no similar protections for employees. The proposed speech restriction policy also stands in stark contrast to another existing policy on the freedom of inquiry and the freedom of expression, which emphasizes the importance of democratic principles as foundational for an educational institution and student learning. This existing freedom of inquiry and expression policy also protects the rights of members of the campus community to, “ freely and peaceably assemble and demonstrate in accordance with the exercise of constitutional rights, so long as such activity does not impede the rights and freedom of others” – rights which the proposed new Board policy would curtail.
In addition to all the reasons above, speech restrictions are strictly scrutinized by the Court and highly controversial. For this reason, they are likely to result in lawsuit(s). In sum, the new policy and its implications undermine the foundational principles of our vibrant democracy and quintessential function of an institution of higher education.
Finally, the new proposed policy undermines and circumvents our shared governance system, adding policies that contravene collectively determined and already approved governance policies.
Faculty are invited to engage around this issue. Please complete this brief form. In addition, LCCEA and LCCEF will be working together to address mutual concerns about this proposed Board policy.
Campus Climate Survey Results
LCC participated in a Gallup survey of campus climate in late Spring. The survey results indicate challenges for the institution with low employee morale and engagement. The overall results indicate LCC is in the 12th percentile within the Gallup database with several questions with lower results. For example, when asked, “how satisfied are you with your institution as a place to work?” LCC’s results are in the 5th percentile among all institutions surveyed and the 8th percentile among higher education institutions. The results when disaggregated by employee group show little variation. Of particular concern are results such as LCC’s ranking in the 3rd percentile overall and 9th percentile among higher ed institutions for the question, “If I raised a concern about ethics and integrity, I am confident my employer would do what is right” as well as LCC’s 1st percentile result among higher education institutions for the question, “Everyone at this institution is treated fairly regardless of individual differences, such as ethnic background, race, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity.”
Part of the work of the LCCEA Racial Equity and Social Justice Committee this year will be to collaborate with the College and HR to develop a plan to improve recruitment and retention of faculty from underrepresented groups to be implemented by Fall 2023. This, coupled with required training of managers on specific topics such as micro aggressions and understanding systemic oppression, is required as part of an unfair labor practice and grievance settlement achieved by LCCEA after the untimely separation of a faculty member from employment at LCC. We hope this work will help contribute to improved learning and working conditions on campus.
PERS Information Sessions
PERS is the Public Employees Retirement System, which manages LCC faculty members’ and other Oregon employees’ pensions. PERS is offering financial planning information sessions to all PERS members and their partner/spouse. One will be in Eugene on 11/14, and there are many other locations as well as virtual options available.
LCCEA Social Events
Thank you to everyone who came out to the mini-golf and pizza event & thank you to Wendy Simmons and the Membership Committee for organizing the fun. It was most wonderful to see a large group of faculty, especially new faculty and families with children enjoying the mini-golfing and camaraderie. Stay tuned for more fun events each term. For a look back at the faculty resource fair and shave ice social, view a slideshow created by our wonderful Communications Chair, Anne McGrail.
Kudos “Their success is my success.”
Congratulations to part-time writing faculty member, Beth Aydelott, who was featured on the OEA Grow podcast, sharing strategies and stories about her work engaging community college students. Listen here.
Get Involved or Share Your Ideas
Faculty are always welcome to suggest ideas for future fun membership events, topics for “Contract Facts” updates, or to provide suggestions at any time to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may wish to get involved in your union – the union is made up of all of us as members and member leaders. Please fill out this form if you are interested in opportunities to participate in your union or on college committees appointed by LCCEA.
As we navigate the many transitions on and off campus with substantial, ongoing administrator turnover, unknowns about the political future of our state and resulting community college funding for the next biennium, I am reminded of the critical role of faculty and the importance of our voices to ensure stability for our institution now and into the future, to advocate for our students and our communities, and to preserve the open access, social justice mission of Lane Community College. I am so very proud to stand together with you all as colleagues as we work to ensure the very best future for our campus and communities.
Future Dates for Your Calendar [Please read on break.]
10/27 Get Out the Vote Rally with Bernie Sanders, Senators Wyden & Merkley, Rep. DeFazio, Tina Kotek & Val Hoyle, Thursday at 9 a.m. at EMU amphitheater RSVP here.
10/27 Canvass to Get out the Vote, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. Sign up here to canvass with me.
11/8 Election Day – Read about local, state, and federal pro-education candidates endorsed by the Oregon Education Association PAC.
11/9 LCCEA Department Rep meetings. Find out who is your department rep on the LCCEA website or please fill out this form if you are interested in opportunities to participate in your union or on college committees appointed by LCCEA.
11/14 PERS workshop in Eugene (info on this and other workshops)
Many dates, ongoing OEA Workshops and Events are free to members