To the University of Illinois community:
The Campus Faculty Association opposes the re-opening of our campus in Fall 2020 in order to protect the health and well-being of all UIUC students, employees, and community members.
If our campus returns to in-person instruction, students will arrive in Champaign-Urbana from all across the state, nation, and beyond. They will live and socialize in close quarters and will interact with community members, academic and support staff, maintenance workers, and others. These are the conditions for what epidemiologists call a “super spreader event.” We appreciate that the university administration is making efforts to prevent a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the fall, but adequate protection on a residential campus the breadth and size of ours is nearly impossible. We unequivocally oppose any plan to reopen campus that poses lethal risks to our community.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also catalyzed an unprecedented economic crisis. As tenured and tenure-track faculty members, we have the privilege of receiving our paychecks and benefits through the crisis. We believe all workers deserve the same, and we support the university administration’s leadership in establishing the “COVID-19 Pandemic Pay and Benefit Continuity Protocol.” This protocol must be extended throughout the crisis to ensure the continuity of pay and benefits for all UIUC employees, including those unable to return to campus.
Even under the forecasted budget contractions, our University has the resources to avoid layoffs. We should take all possible measures — including drawing emergency funds from our endowment — to do so. This crisis demands a deliberative budget allocation process that involves all stakeholders, including faculty and other workers. CFA members stand ready to help create an emergency alternative budget that will allow our community to weather this storm intact.
We oppose an in-person opening because of the dire public health risks to our entire community. Rather than allocating university resources to mitigate a crisis of our own making, let us work together to protect the lives and livelihoods of our entire community while providing the best online education and virtual campus life we can.
The Campus Faculty Association at UIUC