Crisis Teaching: Faculty Flexibility Has Limits
Omicron has irrevocably disrupted the start of spring semester. Many of our students will be delayed returning to campus. Many of our children will be home because of illness or school closure. Many of us will be sick, quarantining, or caring for loved ones. Many of us have urgent questions about classroom transmission.
Nonetheless, as our Provost noted last week, the NYU administration’s “plan is to restart in person, and so in person classes should begin in person.” To bridge the considerable gap between this prerogative and the reality that in-person classes cannot begin as scheduled for many members of our community, NYU has found a familiar solution: faculty flexibility.
We have been told that “Omicron-related disruptions will require that an uncommon degree of flexibility be built into your teaching,” and given less than two weeks notice to prepare multiple contingency plans across modalities. We do this knowing that NYU has not extended us the same degree of flexibility, nor compensated us fairly for this additional work.
Over four semesters of crisis teaching, the NYU administration has refused to include faculty in a transparent decision-making process. Instead, they announce unilateral changes and demand that we absorb the impact, presenting the contradictions and impracticalities of university policy as problems we must solve individually in our labs and classrooms.
We can’t solve these problems as individuals, and nothing will change until we assert our collective power and demand recognition from the University. We need the active participation of faculty in all schools and departments in order to be able to establish our union and win a strong contract. Update your card if you haven’t already, talk to your colleagues about the union, and reply to this email to get involved in organizing.