IVCC Union seeks meeting with board

Iggy Lueck, Assistant Editor

Navigating the world of online school during a pandemic is frustrating and tiring for students and faculty alike. Many students have found themselves drowning in a sea of registration, online classes, and general uncertainty without any rescue in sight. 

Something students may not have realized, though, is that the faculty were struggling as much as students and in many of the same ways. The cyber hack in the Spring left teachers unable to access their school emails or even put in students’ final grades for the Spring semester. Faculty reached out to school administration for help while transitioning to online teaching formats, but faculty said they were met with the decline of several requests without being informed of reasons. IVCC also experienced a backlog of counseling appointments when students were not able to be registered, and the inability to access the website for several months. Some pages of the site have not yet been fully restored. 

On Sept. 10, 2020, the Union Executive Board voiced these concerns to the Board of Trustees via a letter read by Tracy Lee, English and Creative Writing professor and Local 1810 President, and signed by all members of the Executive Board and former union presidents. The letter addresses the lack of an online academic schedule and course catalog and the lack of communication from the President’s Council as faculty tried to navigate online teaching. Union representatives tried repeatedly to reach out to the administration for guidance on how to handle the situation but were met with refusals to meet with faculty on the grounds of no campus Internet connection. The letter calls this an “absolutely absurd excuse,” given the fact that everyone was working from home. This left the faculty to overcome these issues themselves, meeting via Zoom with each other for assistance. The faculty was never asked what they needed in order to teach online to the best of their abilities, the letter alleged. 

One issue the faculty has is with the President’s Council. Lee says, “Decisions are often made by [the] President’s Council without committee deliberation and committee recommendations are too often denied or changed without providing the committee reason.” The letter refers to the President’s Council as a “vacuum” and ends by requesting a formal meeting between the faculty and the Board of Trustees, excluding administration, so that their voices may be heard.

This request was not heeded, but a meeting is being arranged between the Union Executives and the President’s Council. Lee further stated that these groups have had these sorts of meetings before, but they resulted in little to no positive change. She hopes that this time things will be different. 

Although IVCC President Jerry Corcoran calls the letter “disappointing,” he says it is “nothing that will discourage the President’s Council leadership team from wanting to work closely with the Faculty Executive Board moving forward.” He went on to list some positive things administration has done for the faculty, including running an online teaching instruction session that was well-attended, faculty consultation about offering blended online classes, and the Board’s attempts to implement any changes requested by faculty, all while adhering to the state’s health and safety guidelines. He also said that they will search for additional opportunities to communicate with the union moving forward. 

“Ultimately, we want to influence decisions that affect the way in which we do our jobs and the way in which students experience the institution, says Lee. She says the union is doing its best to be a voice for faculty members who may not otherwise be heard. 

Both Corcoran and Lee commended the deans and faculty for their exceptional job in these rough times.