What’s next? Let’s Make UMD a Better University!

Thank you to everyone who joined us on April 16th for our General Meeting and to everyone who couldn’t attend, but who got in touch with us.

We are excited to recap our conversation and to lay out ways that everyone can get involved–at whatever level of engagement makes best sense to each of you. 

Meeting Recap

Our meeting gave us a chance to introduce who we are, as well as the opportunity to share our vision and our strategy to work towards that vision (more on that below). 

The genesis for this group came from the decision last summer by upper administration to force staff back into face-to-face work in the middle of the pandemic. As The Diamondback reported, there wasn’t much consultation, dissent within the established channels of the university was dismissed, and staff were left hanging. About 300 faculty signed a letter of support for our staff

colleagues, urging the upper administration to reconsider their decision and to develop a better plan. 

What became clear from that experience is that the university administration has trouble acknowledging their missteps or bad decisions, even if 300 faculty sign a public letter.

And what also became clear is that we need to work together for the common good, to develop a strong, collective voice that counters the decision-making that has been all too characteristic of the upper administration. 

UMD AAUP is a structure for us to develop a broad-based community of graduate student instructors and researchers, adjunct and professional track faculty, library faculty, and tenure-track faculty.

Most importantly, our meeting gave us all a chance to listen to each other (in our breakout rooms and then back again in the large group) and hear each other’s concerns about a range of issues. There was a lot of concern expressed about inequity and precarity in the various ways it is experienced across campus, including salary, job security, hiring, safety. There was also a lot of concern about how decisions are made and instituted on campus, often apparently without transparency and little effort at shared governance, and the disconnect between talking points about racial justice, on the one hand, and hiring, resource allocation, and policing on campus, on the other. 

Now: what’s next?

We will organize ourselves around two “umbrella” committees to accomplish our vision, and to develop the ideas and support for our campaigns. Please join us!

  1. OrganizingCommittee — this committee will focus on Outreach, Communication and Training, and will:
    1. “Map” the campus.
    2. Connect with colleagues who share similar concerns.
    3. Organize meetings in units and coordinate one-on-one meetings.
  1. Research and Education Committee — this committee will focus on learning about what’s happening at UMD, giving us the information, for example, to understand how the budgets and operations are working. The work will cover topics such as
    1. Budget
    2. Salary equity
    3. UMD Strategic Plan

Please email (umdaaup@protonmail.com) to let us know if you’d like to participate in either committee. 

If signing up for a committee right now isn’t right for you, would you help us to set up a meeting in your unit (or a one-on-one)?

We also need to keep talking to each other, building connections with colleagues who share these concerns, and hearing more about the issues graduate student instructors and researchers, adjunct and professional track faculty, library faculty, and tenure-track faculty are facing on campus. 

And also, if you have an idea or issue you would like to bring to the group’s attention, please let us know by email (umdaaup@protonmail.com). 

Keep up with us through our website and follow us on Twitter — and sign up to receive our emails! 

Finally: there are lots of ways to be involved, big and small. Through our work together, a better university is possible. 

P.S. The President of UMD AAUP, Tita Chico, talked with Solomon Comissiong, the Assistant Director of The Nyumburu Cultural Center, President of the Black Faculty and Staff Association, and Member at Large on the Executive Committee of UMD AAUP. Check it out!

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