GWUFA Demands Protections for Contract Faculty

We were dismayed to learn that contract faculty are not being given same the automatic extensions as tenure-track faculty. We wrote the following letter to Provost Blake, and we’ll let you know if and how Provost Blake responds to us. (April 27, 2020)

Dear Provost Blake,

I write on behalf of the GWU Faculty Association, a grassroots organization of full-time faculty.

As you noted in your March 25 and 26 messages to the faculty, in light of events related to the COVID-19 crisis, tenure-track faculty can receive one-year extensions of their probationary period and a one-year delay for their mid-cycle or three-year review simply by requesting such accommodation. Contract faculty, by contrast, are asked to document their particular COVID-related hardships. We write to request that contract faculty receive the same automatic consideration of the impact of the crisis that is granted to tenure-track faculty.

Not only does the disparate treatment of faculty raise issues of equity, but the special documentation required of contract faculty also raises important further questions, including:

  • What types of documentation would be required from contract faculty?
  • How would contract faculty demonstrate that their productivity was adversely affected “solely,” as your message of March 26 specified, by the crisis?
  • In the case of illness, how would the rights to privacy of medical information mandated by HIPAA be guaranteed to both employees and their family members?
  • Who would make final decisions about the impact of the crisis on contract faculty?
  • What avenues for appeal would be open to contract faculty?

Placing special documentation requirements on contract faculty will also likely create ill will among all those affected, not only because of the disparate treatment but also because of the additional burden of producing documentation and adjudicating each case. A more efficient and just policy would be to automatically grant a one-year extension for any current faculty member, contract or tenure-track, who requests this accommodation.

Sincerely,

Andrew Zimmerman
President
George Washington University Faculty Association
https://gwufa.org/

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