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FSU Welcome - Safety Update and Actions


Dear FSU Members, 

Join us Friday (3:30-4:30pm) for a Week One Check-In:  (contact FSU or Steve Striffler for Zoom information).

Welcome to the first day of Fall semester 2021.  Along with you, we are excited and uneasy about the return, and also have real concerns about our ability to remain face-to-face in the coming weeks.

We also remain disappointed and perplexed that the university has not done more to make our campus safer.  The FSU -- indeed faculty and librarians as a whole -- have been pressing the Administration on this front.  There have been successes, most notably a vaccine mandate (that should have come sooner).  But there is a long way to go. 

Starting this week, we are asking faculty and librarians to report unsafe conditions using this google form, especially in classrooms, offices, or other spaces that are overcrowded or lack ventilation.   This information will inform the FSU’s own analysis – through contracted experts from the MTA – of ventilation and air quality in various campus spaces (and allow us to evaluate the university’s own efforts in this area as thousands of people arrive on campus).  Ventilation and air quality are critical to our health and safety (see attached “Why Air Flow Matters”).

With the rise and spread of the Delta variant, the FSU has pushed a variety of demands that have widespread support from faculty/librarians – as evidenced by FSU surveys and the hundreds of members who emailed the FSU (and Administration) and participated in the last two FSU Forums.  And yet, thus far these concerns have been ignored/rejected by the Administration – even as administrators recognize that a full return to campus will result in a significant increase in Covid cases. 

Reduce Density:  Many universities have decided to hold at least a portion of their classes remotely to reduce density.  Some have found other ways to gradually return to a full campus.  Still others have sought to reduce density in highly trafficked areas.  Our administration has rejected our call to reduce density -- either overall or in places like shuttles and crowded corridors.  They have also rejected our demand to allow faculty the discretion to move their classes remote or hybrid – changes that would immediately reduce overall density on campus.

Mandatory Testing: Campuses across Boston and the country have implemented regular, mandatory, testing for anyone coming to campus. This allows those institutions to determine as soon as possible when/if there is an increase in Covid cases.  It will allow them to potentially get in front of any Covid spikes – which is crucial for our campus and the communities we serve.  Our University is not doing this despite recognizing that a significant increase in Covid cases is inevitable.

Tracing: We have asked that faculty be told immediately when a student in their class tests positive.  This too has been ignored/rejected.  We have also asked that there be a coherent and transparent policy for dealing with cases in our classes.  None exists that we are aware of.

Remote Pivot:  We have asked the university for making the metrics for determining any pivot to remote teaching transparent.  How will a decision to move to remote be made, and by whom?   We are waiting to hear.

This is not an exhaustive list.  We – and the other campus unions -- are struck by the Administration’s unwillingness to implement stronger measures to make our campus safer, but also by the general lack of (effectively communicated) information, guidelines, and protocols on a whole series of issues around the classroom, vaccines, testing, masking, etc.

What Can You Do?

* Report safety concerns about overcrowded spaces and lack of ventilation using this google form, including photos/video.

* Continue to email your concerns to the Chancellor, Provost, and the Return To Campus Planning Committee (

* Attend Friday’s (3:30-4:30pm) FSU Check-In, where we will discuss concerns from the first week and potential actions to pressure the Administration to make our campus safer, from email campaigns and petitions to (outdoor) pickets and switching to remote teaching, etc.

Best of luck as you start the Fall semester.

Steve Striffler

FSU President

For information on the FSU, links to our contract and bargaining updates, and a calendar of events, see the FSU webpage