Statement by the Africana Studies Dept. Regarding Faculty Layoffs and Health and Safety Concerns for Reopening the Campus in a Time of Covid-19

Note: this is a collective statement issued by the Africana Studies Department that we are reposting here. We encourage you to take the same initiative with your respective departments. Please contact us at umb.cdu at gmail dot com if you’d like your departmental statement to be posted here as well.

The Covid-19 Global Pandemic impact has been one of devastation and disorientation for members of our learning, teaching, and research community. The long range impact is unimaginable, but we must be resilient, persevere, and uphold our core values of solidarity, justice, and compassion! 

As the University contemplates how to navigate this national and international crisis, the Africana Studies Department believes two core principles need to guide how and in what ways we move forward as a community:

After the administration leadership has acknowledged the tremendous work done by faculty and staff to transition our campus to remote learning, we find it hypocritical and unconscionable to lay off the very Associate Lecturers and Lecturers who undertook this Herculean task and made this transition, and its successes, possible! We find this to be a cruel and thankless way of addressing our present situation. Indeed, laying off workers only expands the current economic crisis caused by this pandemic. 

The administration must provide Safety and Protection for all workers and students if the University returns to campus in the Fall 2020 and must therefore meet the American College of Health Association (ACHA) guidelines

The Battle for the Future of Higher Education; Battling for May Day – videocast

Presenting an episode from a weekly videocast series called Shelter & Solidarity: A Deep Dive with Artists and Activists, hosted by Joe Ramsey (Senior Lecturer, English and American Studies). The first hour covers the future of higher education and the second hour is on organizing for this year’s recently passed May Day.

About the episode: The COVID19 pandemic has created a new set of uncertainties and challenges for higher education, while compounding existing problems, inequities, and struggles already afflicting our colleges and universities.  How can and how are faculty responding to the challenges–both the dangers and opportunities–of this pandemic moment?  As educators?  As workers? As organizers?  

What are the threats we face right now in higher ed, and how can we come together, on and across campuses, to confront them, both politically and pedagogically?  What are the strategies and tactics in this moment that hold the most promise for protecting and projecting further what is most valuable about higher learning in this moment?

Guests included:
*Anna Kornbluh (University of Illinois Chicago) author of the recent Chronicle of Higher Ed article “Academe’s Coronavirus Shock Doctrine”
*Barbara Madeloni (Education Director of Labor Notes & former MTA President)
*Ben Manski, a long-time organizer for democracy in education, UC Santa Barbara Ph.D. candidate active in the University of California wildcat strikes.
*Chris Newfield, (UC Santa Barbara), author of The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and What We Can Do to Fix Them

For more information on this episode and the Shelter & Solidarity series, please visit and/or contact Joe at Joseph dot Ramsey at UMB dot com.