121 as of Wednesday evening—certainly more than a trickle, but not quite a deluge. So please consider nudging a few of your friends or colleagues to take the survey! As one respondent vouches for it, This survey asking for feedback is long overdue…it feels like when finally the Biden Administration acknowledged and memorialized all the COVID deaths long after the ‘former guy’ denied them. GW should have been asking regularly, and sharing feedback, and responding.
What we’re seeing in the responses thus far is sobering and upsetting. The vast majority express stress and worry about students. Many of my students seem profoundly lonely, one person writes. Or as another echoes, Students are really struggling and there is more empathy expected at a time when everyone is running low on empathy, patience, and good will. Many faculty also describe themselves as stretched thin at home. 70% report that they have been responsible for some form of caregiving labor with immediate family or relatives.
And what are faculty receiving from GW in recognition of our extraordinary efforts over this past year? Not much, according to the bulk of these responses. No one at the F Street House seems interested in engaging beyond saccharine emails (whereas several people make a point of noting how, in contrast, their department chairs have been supportive in meaningful ways). Moreover, that which does come down from the top is often the precise opposite of helpful, responses say. Even the small things are handled parsimoniously, or outright blithely neglected. 80% report that they have spent money of their own for items they normally would’ve grabbed on campus. 59% have seen their household bills go up as a result of losing their campus office. Again, we ask, where is Provost Blake’s statement about why no reimbursement has been forthcoming? Or the message from President LeBlanc explaining that money is so tight that everyone’s feeling it, and so we’re sorry that we can’t do more, and we promise to prioritize how to make all of you whole as soon as we’re out of crisis mode. Crickets.
What the responses offer by way of general impressions, and in terms of thoughts on how to move forward, is mixed. A handful of concluding comments linger on the Kafkaesque indignities of working in a bureaucracy battered by austerity—the feeling, for instance, of struggling with computer woes as computer support-staff get “right-sized.” Other concluding comments, meanwhile, look inward, offering poignant reflections on the emotional challenges of the situation (a reminder that this survey barely glances at the huge topic of mental health). And then there are the suggestions and demands for action, and it’s striking how they vary. They range from calls for LeBlanc to be fired to less drastic pleas for sound and transparent management, to people saying, in so many words, I wish I could see a way forward, but instead all I expect is more stonewalling from the Administration, and that nothing will ever change. Which view is dominant among the masses of us? It’s hard to know, especially when we’re miles and miles apart, nowhere near the proverbial watercooler. So let’s try to hear more from each other, to generate more responses to this survey. Please send it around! Urge people to look at it! And enjoy this well-deserved spring break.
In solidarity and compassion,
GWUFA Steering Committee