Dear President Christian,
I am writing to present to you the UUP petition that we circulated last week. In the span of less than three days, we received 100 signatures from members; beyond that, we received a number of open-ended comments, which are appended (anonymized) here.
We understand that the Administration has committed itself to maintaining the application process for the forthcoming cycle of DSI awards; however, under the current extraordinary circumstances, even the prospect of a more egalitarian across-the-board distribution stirred significant support among our members.
Our emergency chapter meeting last Wednesday, announced at the last minute, drew an audience of 90. In that meeting, we heard from a wide range of members, reflecting every sector of our bargaining unit–professional and academic faculty, adjunct lecturers and those with tenure or continuing appointment. Scanning the various departments represented by the petition signatories, as well as the content of the open-ended comments, you will find a similar distribution.
At the meeting, while there were some who maintained their preference for maintaining the current system of DSI application, an overwhelming majority embraced the seemingly small concession of not having to submit ourselves to the application/review process, in the interests of recognizing the universal impact of the pandemic on all of us scrambling to keep up with our professional obligations. Ironically, those with the greatest burden to carry–among them the caregivers of young children, for whom juggling work and family has been so taxing, as pointed out in our Caregivers Letter last semester–will be those with the least time or energy to spare to complete even the streamlined application that you have produced.
One thing that has been driven home to me recently, by several workshops related to Black Lives Matter@School, is the absolute necessity of listening. This means attending to the perspectives of others, opening up one’s assumptions and expectations to allow the space for fruitful dialogue enables us to find meaningful solutions that will benefit everyone, in the long run. It is in that spirit that we present the attached petition and collective testimony of our members, in hopes that our issues, challenges, and concerns might enter into any future consideration you may have on this subject and enhancing discussions we may have in labor-management meetings (and in other venues) moving forward.
Beth E Wilson
UUP-New Paltz Chapter