Higher Ed Institutions Lay Off Workers, Tighten Budgets Amid Coronavirus Crisis

As college faculty and administrators slide into their slippers and prepare to work online, other campus workers who can’t carry out their duties remotely – namely members of dining, housing and maintenance operations – face layoffs as various institutions across the country are reeling from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, Bon Appétit Management Company, the dining provider at the University of Pennsylvania, announced it would lay off its 140-person team of retail dining workers after March 31, The Daily Pennsylvanian reported.

Though Bon Appétit typically lets about 70% of its staff go each summer, the abruptness of the current layoff will cause financial hardship and uncertainty, said John Preston, the secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 929, the union that represents Penn retail dining workers, to The Daily Pennsylvanian. 

At the same time, residential dining workers who are employed by the university have not been laid off nor have other university employees or student workers be laid off, according to a press statement. However, the release notes that conditions may change as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. 

“We will wait until mid-April to make any determination with respect to any potential furloughs or layoffs that may be necessary after April 30, in light of this unprecedented situation,” wrote Dr. Eric Barron, the university’s president, in the statement. “Any such decisions will be discussed with the Board of Trustees prior to any future announcement.”

In the meantime, a group named the Student Labor Action Project at the school published a petition asking the university to intervene on behalf of the contracted Bon Appétit workers who face impending layoffs at the end of the month. As of Wednesday afternoon, roughly 8,000 people have signed the petition.

Unfortunately, the fate of Penn’s retail dining workers is not an anomaly. The list of organizations taking similar measures is growing. 

“Colleges are being very cautious with their finances right now because nobody knows how this virus is going to end up,” said Dr. Robert Kelchen, associate professor of higher education at Seton Hall University. “If they knew the magnitude of the crisis, they may not need to make all these cuts but given concerns about enrollment for next year, and whether there are even on-campus

Read more: https://diverseeducation.com/article/170924/

A Message to Educators: Hygiene, Hand Washing, and Cultural Considerations Before, During, and After Health Crises

For a few weeks, I have grappled with writer’s block—which is rare—and I’ve been figuratively wringing my hands trying to find the spark to express my concerns regarding culture blind views of hygiene and sanitation in the context of the Coronavirus pandemic and other health issues. Updating course syllabi has been arduous. Should I focus on one of the gifted and talented syllabi, cultural diversity syllabus, or poverty syllabus? I straddle two fields in education: the almost all-White and high-income field of gifted and talented education versus cultural diversity with attention to race, ethnicity, discrimination, classism, and cultural competence. When switching from the gifted and talented syllabus to the diversity one, I felt so much relief; ideas are now overflowing. I must do my part to help educators understand culture in terms of hygiene and to purge themselves of prejudices and stereotypes – implicit and explicit – about Black and other students of color in their academic care.

When I teach and enlighten higher education students (undergraduate and graduate) and practicing educators (teachers, counselors, administrators, policy makers, and more)—the majority being White females in professional development workshops and at conferences—I always focus on culture in developmental domains – social, emotional, psychological, and academic. Health cannot be discounted, so my diversity and poverty syllabi are changing with more attention to this topic. I am obligated to do so as a Black person full of racial pride and a keen sense of equity and social-cultural justice. #BlackAndProud #CulturalPride

Like medical and mental health professionals, educators who are ignorant and incompetent relative to culture (especially those other than their own) can and have been harmful by contributing to school-based racialized trauma. ‘Do no harm’ must not be tossed aside like old news and discarded like trash when teaching, counseling, and delivering other health services. Doing so is a disgrace to the education profession and an affront to Black and other culturally different students, families, and communities.

https://diverseeducation.com/article/171195/

‘Professoring’ While Black: Strategies for Thriving in the White Professoriate

With the acknowledgement of increased White nationalist and supremacist activities happening across U.S. higher education campuses, Black faculty have amplified the call for Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) to acknowledge the unique challenges that these scholars face. From navigating the graduate school and post-doctoral processes, disparate treatment as contingent faculty, thriving on the tenure track, to earning and being respected as full, distinguished, and or endowed professors and the overall lack of Black faculty representation in the professoriate. A burgeoning literature base has begun to evolve to address this gap, the Black professoriate, in the scholarship.

Over the last four years, I have conducted research on the various points within the career cycle of the Black professoriate. However, in this essay I would like to share some strategies rooted both in my review of the extant literature, my own scholarship, and lived experience. Here are nine strategies that I would encourage Black faculty to consider when seeking to thrive at PWI’s.

First: Build multiple communities of support. One that is multi-racial and one that is Black. You will need the multi-racial community which include White colleagues to bounce ideas off of and avoid isolation. At most PWIs there are rarely more than one or two Blacks in a department so you want to identify allies and supporters across a spectrum of identities. When I arrived at my current institution I naively thought that most of my friends would be other tenure-track faculty. However, most of them have been community members and non-Blacks. However, you need to ensure you engage with other Blacks as there will be times you will experience anti-Blackness and the only people that will understand it will be other Black colleagues.

Second: Counseling and mentoring. Having a good confidential professional counselor is important. I happened to have one who has been a faculty member, so they are keened into the challenges I experience. Also developing mentoring relationships with other Black faculty who are in your field and/or maybe outside your field is essential. These individuals can be your peers (same rank) or more advanced. But they should be able to serve as a confidential sounding board regarding successfully navigating the academy.

Third: Leadership support. Prov

Read more: https://diverseeducation.com/article/171115/

UW-Madison Says Racist Behaviors, Stereotyping, ‘Are Not Tolerated’

After racist, anti-Chinese graffiti appeared on University of Wisconsin-Madison’s campus earlier this week, the university on Thursday issued a statement saying racist behaviors “are not tolerated” at the institution, reported Wisconsin State Journal.

The graffiti targeted people from or perceived to be from China and East Asia, and blamed China for the coronavirus, calling it “#CHINESEVIRUS.”

“It’s important to remember: No one person, country, or ethnicity created this pandemic — disease does not discriminate,” the university statement said. “We want to be clear that racist behaviors or stereotyping of any kind are not tolerated at UW–Madison — no matter if we are online, passing others in public, or quarantined at home.”

At a virtual town hall called Thursday, university officials said recent graffiti prompted 25 bias incident reports. And this semester, as many as 81 such reports have been filed, more than half of which allege discrimination against Asian or international students.

Read more: https://diverseeducation.com/article/171157/

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