GEO Communication in Support of Faculty Council and Shared Governance

GEO believes that as a public research institution, the University of Massachusetts, Boston (UMB) should continue and extend its history of shared governance. In earlier iterations of this institution, the faculty’s role in governance was much larger than it is today. It was the faculty which made us a ‘research university with a teaching soul’. This past history of shared governance is partly why we have a strong Faculty Council today. It is this same strength that some fear, and it is this very fear which holds us back from achieving our aspirations and long-term visions.

Thus it was with great concern that many of us in the graduate student community read the joint statement released by Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco and Provost Joe Berger on Thursday, February 10, 2022. Upon further investigation, this concern turned into disappointment and dismay. The statement accused members of the Faculty Council of behaving in a racist manner during their previous meeting. In fact, this charge of racism was levied to shield themselves from criticism of their leadership practices. In doing so, they used racist tropes to discourage faculty from speaking out about leadership decisions. 

Their statement continued on to espouse a goal of becoming an anti-racist institution, yet their actions are not in line with this objective. We are not the only ones disappointed; we’re sure many of you have seen the responses put out by other unions and student groups on campus. (We encourage those interested to click here to see a transcript from the meeting and emails from the FSU.)

While we at GEO couldn’t agree more that we must aspire to be anti-racist, we feel it necessary to point out that this statement itself exhibits racist character and perpetuates racist tropes. GEO had representatives attend the Faculty Council meeting in question. At no time did we feel the legitimate concerns of faculty were racially motivated. The concerns of faculty were rooted in principles of shared governance. The critiques they leveled were not directed at Dr. Tyson King-Meadows, but rather at the Provost and Chancellor for ignoring faculty requests to be included in the process of selecting a search committee chair. Not who was chosen, but how they were chosen. The critique was not undue scrutiny of Dr. King-Meadows, in fact his credentials never were discussed; it was legitimate and necessary scrutiny of the selection process used by the Chancellor and the Provost. It was criticism of dictatorial imperatives instead of democratic ideals.  

UMB is currently filling a large number of senior leadership roles, particularly Deans, to oversee different campus colleges. Many faculty believe, as graduate students do, that the people who work in these colleges deserve to have their voices heard. They should have a role in the process. 

Leaders exist at all levels of an organization. Leaders stand up for what they feel is right, exhibit character in the face of adversity, and dare to speak truth to power. This is what faculty did when they made it known that ideals of shared governance were not being demonstrated by the Chancellor and the Provost. They did what was right and appropriate by demanding more inclusion of students, staff, and faculty in the process of selecting new college Deans.

Students already have an imbalance of trust and legitimacy at UMB. For many of us, we have chosen this university not for the levels of support we are offered (as the lowest paid in the state and amongst peer institutions), but for the quality of the faculty. It is the faculty advisors that most of us see as our personal beacons guiding us through higher education. The Chancellors and Provosts at UMB continue to deny us reasonable funding, they only put token student representation on governance committees, and they obstruct efforts of the University community to become more anti-racist. The joint statement issued by the Chancellor and Provost last week does not add luster to their character. It reveals their grasping and self-centered actions as a means of dismantling shared governance. It reveals their disdain for the anti-racist efforts of faculty.

We in the GEO issue this statement to show our appreciation for faculty – particularly the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) faculty who have been fighting against systemic racism for decades. It is not racist to make legitimate criticisms of process and procedure. It is not racist to believe that shared and collective governance is critical in a public research university. 

We call on the Chancellor and Provost to make amends for their racist behavior. We implore the University to commit to the process of becoming anti-racist. More than just an apology, if the Chancellor and Provost aspire to help UMB become an anti-racist institution, they need to act. We call on them to adopt and attend the training programs being advocated by the Undoing Racism Assembly and others working to restore justice in our community. They need to ensure that the actions of Thursday, February 10, 2022 are not repeated again. Enough is enough.    

Bargaining – Feb 17 – IN-PERSON

GEO,
Bargaining tomorrow will be in-person. Despite repeated asks over the last few weeks seeking confirmation on if this meeting would be over Zoom or in-person, the university only supplied us with confirmation for an in-person meeting earlier today. This deliberate tactic makes it more difficult for us to rally members like you to show up at bargaining sessions.
It’s a Thursday morning. We’ll bring the coffee and donuts. You bring the rest.
Meet us between 09:00 and 09:15 at Quinn-02-081A
— or join us directly in bargaining between 09:30 and 11:30 in Campus Center 2115.

GEO Organizing Committee
Warren Hinckle 

Bargaining Update

We met with the university on February 1st: management is beginning to be less obstinate toward our demands for more information and more conversation. In the latest bargaining session, in which we had to break down to management in very basic terms why we needed to be discussing actual numbers with them for our proposals, they began to come around to the idea.

Shortly after the meeting, we received a request to share our fiscal proposals so they could “catch up”. Fiscal proposals we submitted March 2021.

The fight continues – and we need you to join us!

Our next bargaining session is Thursday, February 17th, at 930am. We are as of yet unsure if this meeting will be in-person, or over Zoom: management seems reluctant to meet in-person due to COVID, which makes us wonder why the university is still operating on campus. 

To that end, we have two asks for you today.

The first is to fill out this interest form for Bargaining on the 17th: https://forms.gle/EvQsURN7uixMFvwRA

The second is to fill out this general Health and Safety form – the university does not want to meet regularly, and we need to know what you want so we can push them. The more you speak, the more we can speak for you.  https://forms.gle/8jb5mMagatTFukfB7

Warren Hinckle
Solidarity,

Register to Vote

One of these two candidates will fill one position in the GEO Organizing Committee this semester. Check them out and prepare for voting.

Register before it’s too late! The elections voting registration period ends on Friday, October 8 at 5 p.m. EST. Everyone needs to register prior to voting. To register, make sure to send a filled membership dues form from your UMB email to us at geoumb.elections@gmail.com. For more information on elections, click here.

GEO ELECTIONS: SELF-NOMINATIONS

Nominations and registration for elections are open! Your union (the Graduate Employee Organization) is holding elections to fill one half-time (0.5 FTE) assistantship position on the Organizing Committee with an official start-work date of Monday, October 18. Similar to Fall 2020 elections, all graduate employees interested in voting should register prior to voting. You will find more information below. 

The GEO Organizing Committee is composed of five Graduate Assistants at UMass Boston. We work collaboratively to advocate for graduate employee rights within the school and enrichment opportunities for graduate workers at UMass Boston. Some of the projects in which the Organizing Committee are currently working on include:

  • Bargaining a new contract with UMB’s administration to address labor concerns affecting graduate employees
  • Engaging with graduate employees and community members of UMass Boston to organize collective action and increase membership engagement
  • Administering Scholarly Support Funds (SSF) for students seeking funding to present at or attend conferences
  • Mediating member grievances 
  • Attending and helping organize coalition efforts within the community
  • Developing communications content for the website, social media, and e-newsletters.

Elections timeline:

  • Wednesday, September 15: Nomination & Voting Registration period starts
  • Sunday, September 26: Nomination period closes
  • Monday, September 27: Campaign period starts
  • Friday, October 8: Voting Registration ends
  • Tuesday & Wednesday, October 12 and 13: Voting days
  • Friday, October 15: Result Announcement

How do I nominate myself?

To nominate yourself, you must email your completed nomination form and evidence that you are an active dues-paying member (your most recent pay stub – accessed through HR Direct) or a Dues authorization Form to geoumb.elections@gmail.com on or before Sunday, September 26 at 5:00 p.m. EST. Please complete all sections of the nomination form. 

YOUR ASSISTANTSHIP TESTIMONIALS ARE REQUESTED

GEO has launched a new survey inviting you to share your experiences as a graduate assistant at UMass Boston.

It feels important to say this: we know how hard the last few years have been and how painful a lot of the subjects in the survey are. Wages haven’t gone up, university officials have been a mix of dismissive and unresponsive, bargaining has been repeatedly delayed by the university – our goal, with this survey, is to strengthen our ability to present a unified front at the bargaining table and your testimonies are essential to that task.

We know that you are all often too busy, stressed, stacked up with classes and work and family and your second or third jobs to attend bargaining sessions: it’s why we’re asking for these testimonies. To read them on your behalf, anonymously, to stress to the university how important it is we get bargaining moving, and how absolutely essential it is that our work comes with respect, dignity, and proper conditions.

You can help by taking the survey here

ELECTIONS COMING FALL 2021

Ara has completed her run as your elected representative and we thank her for her service and wish her luck!

We will thus have one open spot on the organizing committee this coming fall 2021, and as always, are seeking a tenacious graduate student to come and join us to advocate for the rights of every graduate assistant at UMass Boston.

If you’re interested, watch this space: we’ll be publishing the timeline and additional information shortly!

FSU Events Next Week!

The Faculty Staff Union is holding two events next week – on Tuesday at 1030 and on Thursday at 2pm. The information for both is below, along with the links to register.

Campus Forum on the Future of Healey Library – Tuesday, May 11th from 10:30 to 11:30
Register here: https://umassboston.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEsf-mvrzIpGNErB9KTPjqR1TCBl1S6gP47

How Do We Get UMass Boston the Library It Deserves? The campus unions (CSU, DCU, FSU, GEO, and PSU) as well as the (outgoing) President (Janrey Javier) and Vice President (Jaely Pererra) of Undergraduate Student Government are co-sponsoring a Forum on the future of the UMass Boston library on May 11th from 10:30 to 11:30. Joanne Riley, Interim Dean of University Libraries, will join with other speakers to provide an update on the current state of the library, including comparisons with peer universities, the view into FY22, and to invite community feedback and ideas about what a thriving campus library for the city’s only public research university should look like.

FSU Forum on Fall Semester Opening – Thursday, May 13th, 2-3pm
Register here: https://umassboston.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEqd-mtqz0uGtWYt0sfaro4bsrC3EkEtDPm

Please join us for a Forum on the Fall Semester opening of campus. Do you have concerns about the campus opening? Are there health and safety issues you want to raise? Workload issues? Pedagogical concerns? How do we reopen while keeping health, equity, wellness and education at the center for faculty, staff, and students? The FSU will share information. But the main purpose of the Forum is to listen to each other and determine how we want to make our voices heard.

UAW Annual Civil Rights Dinner – Tomorrow!

Dear GEO,  

Every year our affiliate union, the UAW, holds an Annual Civil Rights Dinner. You’re invited! Due to the pandemic, this year’s event will be virtual but no less exciting and meaningful because we are honoring Stacey Abrams! UAW International President Rory Gamble will be joining us as well as other International Executive Board members.

And for the first time, the event will have Spanish language interpretation.  

The event will be Thursday February 4th (that’s tomorrow!) at 7 p.m. To register, please click the link below. I’ve also attached 2 flyers – English and Spanish – so you can and should feel free to share widely.   https://www.facebook.com/events/1876900929131978

The Spring 2021 round of SSF applications is opening soon!

Dear GEO Members,

You still have time to prepare for applying for the Spring 2021 round of the Scholarly Support Fund (SSF).

SSF applications will go live on Thursday, February 11 (8 am) {{here}}, and close on Friday, February 12th (11:59 pm). SSF will keep running on a first-come-first-serve basis. If you make it to the finalists, you can get up to $200 reimbursed in qualifying expenses (See item 2.2 of FAQ). We recommend checking out the SSF Checklist to prepare for applying and the SSF FAQ for more in-depth information about SSF.

Don’t hesitate to contact us at geo@umb.edu with any question.

In Solidarity,

The GEO