[UFF-FAU Preface: The Florida SUS metrics ignore the realities of student poverty by failing to address basic requirements for student success like having access to adequate food and housing. Many legislators wrongly assume most students share their privileged backgrounds and hold the rest in contempt as nothing more than a “burden” upon public higher education. UFF-FAU opposes the state metrics as contrary to the mission of public higher education: providing quality access for all students from all backgrounds.]
Kayla Laterman, The New York Times May 2, 2019
In the coming weeks, thousands of college students will walk across a stage and proudly accept their diplomas. Many of them will be hungry.
A senior at Lehman College in the Bronx dreams of starting her day with breakfast. An undergraduate at New York University said he has been so delirious from hunger, he’s caught himself walking down the street not realizing where he’s going. A health sciences student at Stony Brook University on Long Island describes “poverty naps,” where she decides to go to sleep rather than deal with her hunger pangs.
These are all examples of food insecurity, the state of having limited or uncertain access to food. Stories about college hunger have been largely anecdotal, cemented by ramen and macaroni and cheese jokes. But recent data indicate the problem is more serious and widespread, affecting almost half of the student population at community and public colleges.
A survey released this week by Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community and Justice indicated that 45 percent of student respondents from over 100 institutions said they had been food insecure in the past 30 days. In New York, the nonprofit found that among City University of New York (CUNY) students, 48 percent had been food insecure in the past 30 days.
Stop & Shop’s stores were ghost towns during the recent strike. With workers standing outside in picket lines, customers stayed away , leading to one of the most effective strikes in recent memory.
The grocery clerks and bakers and meat cutters holding signs were protesting proposed cuts to their benefits, but their plight also resonated with the public because they represented something bigger: working Americans across the country whose wages are barely budging while the cost of living skyrockets in such places as Boston and corporations rake in record profits.
In the recent wave of strikes nationwide, unions have effectively linked their cause to the broader fight against income inequality that ramped up nearly eight years ago with Occupy Wall Street. And for the most part, they have succeeded in fending off cuts and even adding new protections.
These battles are being waged as anger grows over the widening gap between rich and poor and public support for the labor movement is at a 15-year high, even as union membership continues its long, steady decline. But with nearly 15 million union members nationwide, and young people, professionals, and people of color bringing new energy to the movement, unions are showing they can still be a formidable force.
“What we’re seeing is an increasing resistance to the fundamental unfairness of a system that’s so skewed both economically and politically to the wealthy,” said Benjamin Sachs, a Harvard Law School labor professor, noting that when Uber goes public, former CEO Travis Kalanick’s stock is expected to be worth upward of $6 billion — an amount that would take a full-time Uber driver 150,000 years to make.
[UFF Preface: The American Association of University Professors allies with your union and our national affiliates, NEA and AFT, on virtually all issues. The whole country is watching as the Florida Legislature attempts to undermine academic freedom. As the article indicates, UFF strongly opposes House Bill 839, and the union has collected petition signatures at universities and colleges all over Florida. Our UFF-FAU chapter collected signatures on this and other issues on “Red for Ed” Wednesday, April 17. You can still write your state Representative on this and other issues before the legislative session closes.]
from Academe Blog HANK REICHMAN
Last year the AAUP’s Committee on Government Relations released a report, “Campus Free-Speech Legislation: History, Progress, and Problems,” which concluded that campus free-speech laws and academic freedom are “false friends.” Nevertheless, such legislation continues to advance in several states. Especially troubling is a proposal that has moved out of committee in the Florida House of Representatives that would require the state’s universities, and if an amendment passes its community colleges, to conduct annual “viewpoint diversity” surveys. Specifically, House Bill 839 states: “Each institution shall conduct an annual survey of students, faculty, and administrators that assesses the extent to which competing ideas, perspectives, and claims of truth are presented and members of the university community feel safe and supported in exploring and articulating their beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom.”
The proposal poses a direct and serious threat to academic freedom in the state. The senate of the United Faculty of Florida, the union representing faculty in the state’s universities, voted unanimously in February to oppose the survey.
“I shouldn’t be forced to tell the state of Florida how I feel about certain political matters,” said Florida State University professor and UFF member Matthew Lata. He raised concerns about whether survey results would prompt the firing of liberals or conservatives in an attempt to have balanced viewpoints on campus. “Let’s say in political science you have 20 people and the survey determines 15 are liberal and five are conservative. Are you going to fire the liberals and hire more conservatives? What would happen?” Lata asked.
[An insightful article, but UFF-FAU holds some reservations towards online degree programs and courses that at times overlook the disparities between student success given their socio-economic backgrounds and the ways such programs have the potential to undercut faculty solidarity by fragmenting the workforce among other concerns.]
Kevin Carey, April 1, 2019
The price of college is breaking America. At a moment when Hollywood celebrities and private equity titans have allegedly been spending hundreds of thousands in bribes to get their children into elite schools, it seems quaint to recall that higher learning is supposed to be an engine of social mobility. Today, the country’s best colleges are an overpriced gated community whose benefits accrue mostly to the wealthy. At 38 colleges, including Yale, Princeton, Brown and Penn, there are more students from the top 1 percent than the bottom 60 percent.
Tuition prices aren’t the only reason for this, but they’re a major one. Public university tuition has doubled in the last two decades, tripled in the last three. Prestige-hungry universities admit large numbers of students who can pay ever-increasing fees and only a relative handful of low-income students. The U.S. now has more student loan debt than credit card debt—upward of $1.5 trillion. Nearly 40 percent of borrowers who entered college in the 2003 academic year could default on their loans by 2023, the Brookings Institution predicts.
The colleges would have you believe that none of this is their fault. They would point out that public schools took a huge financial hit during the recession when states slashed their education budgets. This is true, but that hardly explains the size and pace of the price hikes or the fact that tuition at private schools has exploded, too. 
The adjunct faculty at Miami Dade College have officially won the right to form a union.
The part-time professors, who make up a majority of MDC’s total faculty, won a narrow 14-vote victory on Wednesday to form a union with the Florida arm of the Service Employees International Union to lobby for increased wages, health benefits, added transparency in course assignment and — most importantly — negotiating power.
About 42 percent of the 2,790 eligible voters cast ballots in the month-long election, and the votes were tallied Wednesday in Tallahassee by Public Employees Relations Commission election agents. The state office conducts all union elections in Florida.
Proposed legislation in Florida would require public universities to survey students’ and faculty members’ political beliefs annually.
The bill, HB 839, passed a House panel last week, amid opposition from Democrats who expressed concern about how the survey data would be used. A similar bill has been proposed in the Florida Senate. Both chambers are controlled by Republicans, and Governor Ron DeSantis is a Republican.
The survey language, which is part of a broader set of proposed performance metrics, is short on details. There is no assurance of data anonymity or clarity on who will use the data, for what purpose.
The bill says only that the state university system’s Board of Governors will require public institutions to conduct an assessment of intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity on campus. Results would be published annually, starting next year.
[UFF Preface: As a new survey indicates, most Americans think that state funding for higher education has increased or stayed the same in recent years. Actually, it has decreased significantly.
In Florida, per-student state funding for higher education, adjusted for inflation, dropped by 19.1% or $1820 between 2008 and 2017. As a result, during the same period, average tuition at public four-year colleges and universities in Florida increased by 62.2% or $2436.
Between 1988 and 2016, students’ share of their own education costs went from less than 25% to almost 50%. That’s why paying for college has become so difficult for many low-income FAU and other students and their families.
And most Americans have no idea this is going on.]
by Jon Marcus (The Hechinger Report), February 25, 2019
At a time when so many employers are struggling to find workers who have university degrees, Tyler Duffield thinks supporting higher education is as obvious an obligation of state government as it is essential.
“It’s kind of unthinkable that the government would scale back that kind of thing,” said Duffield, 20, a North Carolina community college student majoring in environmental engineering. “Any country that chooses not to prioritize higher education makes itself less competitive in the world.”