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Petition -- Teaching Modality and Georgia – please consider signing


Dear FSU Members, 

The pandemic has brought the issue of teaching modality to the forefront of academic and workplace debates.  COVID quickly forced the UMB to remote teaching/operations in Spring 2020, which lasted through the Spring of 2021.  Then, with equal swiftness, we were told that faculty would return to face-to-face teaching in Fall 2021 – that campus was to be fully opened, that with vaccines and masks we would be safe, and that this full return was what students needed.  More recently, we were told that all winter session courses would be remote/online (perhaps suggesting that the face-to-face instruction students needed in the Fall semester no longer applied in the Winter session?).   

We are not alone. College administrations throughout the country have insisted that they alone determine teaching modality, and that faculty must get approval before switching modalities – even to switch for a class or two. 

The expression and consequence of this Administrative overreach has taken an extreme form in Georgia, where public universities have not been allowed to require masks -- an edict from a state Board of Regents that is comprised entirely of political appointees.  One faculty (and union) member at Georgia College, Professor Jim Schiffman, pushed back against this maskless reopening – in the most reasonable of ways.  He was teaching three classes and one of them required students to sit closely together so they could write in small groups. Since that wasn't safe, he sent the students a zoom link so they could meet online and divide up into "breakout groups" -- something that other faculty were no doubt doing as a commonsense way to work around Administrative/State nonsense.   However, his decision to utilize zoom violated a policy barring any unapproved changes in the "modality" of courses – something that caused Jim no trouble until he published an op-ed that was critical of the Board of Regents.  After that, his administration took away his course and docked his salary.  

Professor Schiffman’s union is circulating a letter in support of Jim, who is now appealing his case to his university's president.  It would be great if you could help by adding your name to the letter.  His struggle is our struggle. 


Steve Striffler

FSU President