People’s COVID-19 Briefing

On October 5, 2021 from 12:30pm to 1:30pm, the CFA, GEO, and NTFC hosted a panel discussion with instructors teaching on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Below you will find a recording of the event, links to the email template you can use to share your frustration with the UIUC administration, articles published by media in attendance, and text transcripts of both the meeting audio and the accompanying Zoom chat.

Media Response

One of the most common sentiments shared at Tuesday’s meeting: hoping the university avoids a “victory lap” mentality.

Ethan Simmons, “Coronavirus response | UI instructor unions say their classrooms should be safer,” News Gazette

With a higher risk of breakthrough infection, the rise of the Delta variant has heightened concern and confusion among faculty over what they should do when a student tests positive for COVID-19 or comes in close contact with someone who has.

Willie Cui, “Faculty express concern about classroom COVID-19 transmission despite UI assurances,” The Daily Illini

Email Template

Any media inquires about this event should be directed to

Announcing the 2020-2021 Social Justice Scholarship Winners

CFA congratulate the five winners of our 2020-2021 Social Justice Scholarship. The awards committee was impressed by the work of all of this year’s applicants. You can learn more about each of this year’s winner’s and their work below:

Image of Nataly Esparza looking at the camera over her left shoulder. She is wearing a black short-sleeved top and jeans.

Nataly Esparza is currently a Senior Double Majoring in Political Science and Spanish on a Pre-Law track. Nataly serves as the Undocu/DACA Mentor through the office of OIIR, which allows her to assist undocumented/DACAmented students through workshops, weekly office hours, scholarship applications, resource guiding, etc. Secondly, Nataly serves as the Development and Grants intern at the New American Welcome Center as well as a Senator in LAS-B through the Illinois Student Government which allows her to create resolutions and projects to help out different communities and voice various concerns of the student body. Nataly’s other extracurriculars include being an active member of I-CAUSE, ISG student committees, and Spanish Tutor. After graduation Nataly plans to attend law school and practice immigration law, as she has witnessed how the system often neglects members of disadvantaged communities like herself who lack opportunities to seek and receive fair representation in legal procedures, which affects not only the outcome of one case, but communities as a whole.

Ciara Johnson is a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Integrative Biology. A native to the Southside of Chicago, Ciara has been introduced to the vast, diverging opportunities and disadvantages Chicago has to offer to its residents. At a young age, Ciara was exposed to the socioeconomic disparities within the Chicago area, creating an internal desire for her to connect underserved areas in the city to the world-class experiences of Chicago. With an unwavering commitment to STEM advancements, she plans to become an entrepreneur and leader in the science and technology fields, specifically focusing on using her platform to address socioeconomic disparities that limit minorities from gaining access to the STEM field. Ciara is an active part of her community through being an active member of programs including The Few Initiative for Children, The Illini Medical Screening Society, and the Technology Entrepreneur Center Student Advisory Board. She has utilized the platforms she has been part of to be a resource for others through her service and commitment.

Hiba Ahmed is a Junior at the U of I studying business and environmental sustainability. She is passionate about using her resources to uplift her community and has done so through social entrepreneurship and student organizing. She has created social entrepreneurship projects in Champaign to facilitate economic opportunities for low-income residents. She is also a part of Believers Bail Out, a bail fund that supports Muslims in pre-trial incarceration. Additionally, she is active in the movement to get cops off campus by organizing with a working group of students and faculty at U of I.

Keyana Diaz is from Waukegan, Illinois, and a sophomore at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Keyana is currently majoring in human development and family studies, with a concentration in child and adolescent development. Keyana plans to obtain my PhD and help people with mental illnesses and become a professor. Keyana created a five-part webinar series Anti-Racism: Awareness and Allyship with two of my allies, because she wanted to amplify the voices of the Black community and educate others on to help them. The topics include what the Black community has done in making their voices heard, how people contribute to racism unconsciously and individually, how society has put the Black community at a disadvantage, the relationship between policing and race, and how people can practice anti-racism and be allies in our daily lives. Keyana believes that education is a powerful tool that we can use to spread valuable information that could make a difference in other people’s lives and inspire others to create change.

Tyeese Braslavsky is studying Political Science and Social Psychology with a minor in Communications at the University of Illinois and will be beginning her senior year in the Fall of 2021! With a keen interest in civil and human rights education and advocacy, Tyeese leads the Student Advocacy Coalition on campus, serves as an intern and tutor for the YMCA’s New American Welcome Center, a volunteer with the Education Justice Project and has served for 3 years in the Illinois Student Government as Senator and Outreach Coordinator! Post-graduation, Tyeese hopes to attend law school and pursue a career as a civil rights lawyer. In her free time, you can always find her with an iced coffee in hand, listening to a Broadway cast recording, taking photos of anything and everything on campus, and, of course, talking about her many, many plants!​

More information about the Social Justice Scholarship can be found here.

CFA Statement on SHEILD COVID-19 Saliva Testing for Local Community

The CFA calls on the University of Illinois to fulfill its public mission by providing its saliva-based COVID testing to the local community. 

For Immediate Release:

April 4, 2021

The Campus Faculty Association (CFA) calls on the University of Illinois to live up to its status as a preeminent public university and a land-grant research institution by sharing its innovative saliva-based covidSHIELD test with the surrounding community free of cost. 

CFA applauds the decision to provide the test to schools, universities, and communities following its approval by the Food and Drug Administration. We were thrilled to read the headlines about SHIELD CU’s involvement in the K-12 initiative funded by the Rockefeller Foundation—thanks, we understand, to the support of Governor Pritzker. However, we strongly oppose the decision to sell the SHIELD test, especially to vulnerable/underserved community members and to family. The U of I is not simply a vendor. It is a public institution supported by and responsible to the Urbana-Champaign and surrounding community. 

We insist that our campus is not an isolated bubble, but part of the larger Champaign County community. Students, faculty, and staff may work and study on campus, but they live, move, shop, and, yes, socialize, in Champaign, Urbana, and surrounding communities. We understand that the tests are costly. But we strongly believe the university must remember its position as a community member, and join the collective pursuit to protect neighbors and friends. 

Perhaps this sounds utopian in the current economic and political climate. But a recent, peer-reviewed engineering study demonstrated that UIUC’s reopening definitively caused COVID-19 to spread beyond university boundaries into the community. Furthermore, a new scientific study bears out the epidemiological value of such an attitude. The authors of “The Case for Altruism in Institutional Diagnostic Testing,” from MIT, Harvard, and Colorado Mesa Institute, suggest that the “self-focused approach” to COVID testing of places like UIUC “not only overlooks surrounding communities but also remains blind to community transmission that could breach the institution.” They conclude, “Our model supports our hypothesis that the altruistic approach––in which institutions test beyond their walls––is the most effective protection strategy.” And as CDC director Rochelle Walensky and President Joseph Biden emphasize, the pandemic is not over yet. While vaccines continue to roll out, cases may be on an upswing. Testing remains crucial.

We call on the University of Illinois to fulfill its public mission, as Dr. Wanda E. Ward, the co-lead of SHIELD-CU herself put it. We want the entire community to stay well and safe, too. We call on the university to provide its covidSHIELD test to the surrounding community free of cost, especially to underserved and vulnerable communities in the area. 

Who We Are

The Campus Faculty Association (CFA) is an advocacy organization for faculty and other campus workers committed to shared governance, academic freedom, and a strong faculty voice on campus. The majority of CFA members are tenure-stream faculty. Non-tenure stream faculty in most campus units are represented by their union, the Non-Tenure Faculty Coalition Local #6546.

CFA supports the principles of faculty unionization and represents a clear and organized faculty voice. We provide an independent perspective on the university and higher education. 

CFA has been active on the UIUC campus for more than forty years, working on issues of academic freedom, faculty working conditions, and racial and gender equity.

CFA Statement on Proctorio

For Immediate Release:

February 15, 2021

The Campus Faculty Association (CFA) stands in solidarity with and supports the successful efforts of the UIUC Graduate Employees Organization and hundreds of undergraduate students, demanding that the UIUC terminate its use of Proctorio. We celebrate their victory in pressing the university to decline to renew its contract with Proctorio after the summer session. Until Proctorio is fully removed, we strongly encourage all CFA members and tenured faculty to refuse it. 

Unfortunately, Proctorio is only one of several classroom technologies that raise serious concerns about faculty and student privacy and pedagogy. Other forms of technology, like Packback and Turnitin, which already have significant footprints on campus, threaten student and worker privacy in ways that are not upfront and clear to users. They also endanger the quality and quantity of academic labor. The University’s increasing approval and contracting of such classroom technologies also signals a troubling, undemocratic trend in administrative approaches to academic labor and pedagogy that damage its relationship with faculty and students.         

As teachers and mentors to UIUC students, we understand that effective pedagogy requires trust, open communication, and strong relationships among all members participating in a course. Surveillance technologies like Turnitin openly violate that trust by assuming students will cheat and install preemptive measures to discipline their behavior under the already stressful conditions of an exam or paper deadline. Packback, which purports to be a “Digital TA,” poses additional threats to our community’s shared educational mission, not to mention the livelihoods and careers of many of us.

Without any real consultation with faculty, the university has become increasingly reliant on surveillance technology and automated pedagogy. In some cases, the turn to technology has been an obvious and necessary response to the pandemic. In others, the crisis has clearly created an environment of “disaster capitalism” that serves private interests at the expense of UIUC students, workers, and faculty. We believe that outsourcing education to private corporations is not only an irresponsible use of limited funding and resources, but also exposes UIUC constituents to serious threats to their privacy and well-being. Most important, it undermines the foundations of a strong, resilient campus community–now needed more than ever in this moment of multiple crises.

As the organization representing the most privileged and secure class of workers on campus, the CFA calls on all instructors, especially tenured faculty, to refuse to use these technologies. The CFA further demands that the university administration honor its purported commitment to shared governance by seeking serious consultation and input from faculty and other relevant campus workers before committing to contracts  for any future “university-approved” classroom and surveillance technologies. 

Who We Are

The Campus Faculty Association (CFA) is an advocacy organization for faculty and other campus workers committed to shared governance, academic freedom, and a strong faculty voice on campus. The majority of CFA members are tenure-stream faculty. Non-tenure stream faculty in most campus units are represented by their union, the Non-Tenure Faculty Coalition Local #6546.

CFA supports the principles of faculty unionization and represents a clear and organized faculty voice. We provide an independent perspective on the university and higher education. <something like that? Or remove>

CFA has been active on the UIUC campus for more than forty years, working on issues of academic freedom, faculty working conditions, and racial and gender equity.

2020-2021 Social Justice Scholarship

The Campus Faculty Association is proud to announce that we are awarding up to five $1000 scholarships for undergraduate students who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to social justice in the community.

To be considered, an undergraduate must be currently enrolled as a student in good standing at the UIUC with at least one more semester of study before graduation. Preference will be given to students who will be involved in social justice activity during the period of the award.

Applications must include a curriculum vitae (CV), a short (250 word) essay describing the student’s involvement in social justice work, and the name and contact information for one reference who can speak to the student’s record in this regard. All application materials are due by February 15, 2021. Awards will be announced in early March 2021.

Social justice efforts may take many forms, including volunteer and paid work. Although usually performed through the auspices of a non-profit organization, it may also involve a less formally structured activity. Whatever form it may take, such activity is not simply charity work but an effort that seeks to improve the living and working conditions for less advantaged members of the community in concrete and sustainable ways. Examples include work associated with: labor organization and strike support; patients’ rights; civil rights; housing assistance programs like Habitat for Humanity; food pantries and food delivery programs; incarcerated people’s rights and education; early childhood development programs; shelters for homeless people and domestic violence survivors; immigrant rights; and so on.

Please submit applications to All application materials should be submitted as a single .pdf file.

Bunsis Presentation Video and Slides

Below you will find the video from the recent sponsored talk given by Dr. Howard Bunsis on the University of Illinois’ budget as well as slides from the presentation. There is also a one-page synopsis of the presentation.

This page will be updated with content that does a deep dive into the presentation and situates Bunsis analysis in the context of building a budget that puts people first.

CFA Sponsoring a Talk on UIUC Finances and Putting People First

Friday October 2, 10 am CST

Towards a People’s Budget at UIUC: Analyzing our University’s Finances

with Dr. Howard Bunsis, Professor of Accounting at Eastern Michigan University

presented by the Campus Labor Coalition

sponsored by the Campus Faculty Association

Please join us as we examine our university’s finances and budgetary priorities with one of the nation’s leading experts in the field. Dr. Bunsis’s presentation, and the discussion to follow, will equip UIUC workers, students, and community members with the tools and knowledge to advocate for an approach to our campus budget that puts people first.

Please register in advance here

Jay Rosenstein’s Analysis of the University of Illinois Athletics Budget

As CFA prepares to develop a People First budget model, we would like to share research CFA member Jay Rosenstein completed that sheds light on how the University of Illinois’ current budget model prioritizes profits over people.

Prof. Rosenstein’s article, “‘No Taxpayer Dollars’ for Coaches at the U of I? You May Be Surprised” is reprinted below:

Center for Advanced Study Professor of Media & Cinema Studies Jay Rosenstein is the award-winning filmmaker of In Whose Honor? (1997), The Amasong Chorus: Singing Out (2004), and The Lord is Not on Trial Here Today (2010)

It’s not tax money, so angry taxpayers can calm down.

That was the first reader comment posted on an on-line Chicago Tribune story.The issue that elicited that reaction was the six-year, $18 million contract for newly hired University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign head men’s basketball coach Brad Underwood. It’s part of a familiar ritual that happens whenever the UI hires a new high-profile coach:

“This doesn’t come out of tuition. It doesn’t come out of state funding. It’s strictly out of athletic funds,” said U of I Trustee Edward McMillian in a News-Gazette story after a new coaching hire.

“Coaching contracts are covered by athletic department income, not tuition or state funds,” noted U of I Trustee Timothy Koritz in another newspaper story.

“The state of Illinois does not fund coaches’ salaries,” said Robin Kaler, Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs.

“Intercollegiate Athletics is self-supported and does not use state funds, taxpayer dollars, or university funds for our salary program,” said Kent Brown, Athletic Department spokesman.

It’s a narrative that’s been repeated for years, over and over, from pretty much every corner.

Except it’s not true.

While taxpayer money doesn’t technically go to pay the coaches’ actual salary lines, taxpayer money does pay for the salary packages for most every UI coach, trainer, and full-time athletic department staff member. That’s because UI athletic department employees are UI employees, so they receive the same “standard university benefits” as all other UI employees.

And benefits for UI employees—health, dental, etc.—are paid for by the state of Illinois. In other words, the taxpayers.

The cost isn’t exactly trivial. In 2016-17, the taxpayers’ bill for athletic department benefits was just under $6 million, according to the UI’s Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs. And the cost of those benefits is an annual expense. Combined with the $2.6 million pension cost for retired coaches and other retired athletic department employees (as detailed in Part Two of this series), the total cost to Illinois taxpayers for UI athletic department compensation packages was $8.6 million in 2016-17.

Yet according to U of I Trustee Tim Koritz, “coaching contracts are covered by athletic department income, not tuition or state funds.”

Maybe in Trump’s world of alternative facts.

“What I think it does is it undercuts the argument that tax dollars have nothing to do with athletics,” said State Senator Scott Bennett, whose district includes UI. “They certainly do.“

Additionally, even if taxpayer money isn’t going directly to pay these incredibly large salaries, it still plays a role. By picking up the cost of employee benefits for the UI athletic department, the taxpayers help to free up money for the department, money it can then use to pay for other things—such as the salaries of its coaches. Those huge salaries—football coach Lovie Smith and men’s basketball coach Brad Underwood are the highest paid public employees in the state—should look very different to the public when it knows that part of the justification for those salaries, that “the state of Illinois does not fund coaches’ salaries” isn’t exactly the case.

             Fig. 1: All data from U of I Academic Personnel Book

And if the $8.6 million paid by taxpayers last year isn’t bad enough, that number is bound to increase.  One major factor driving up this taxpayer cost is the growth in the number of coaches and athletic staff.  It’s a trend seen nationwide, especially in the biggest programs.

“There’s so many people in an athletic department (today), it’s incredible. I mean, literally incredible,” said Rick Telander, a sports journalist who has been covering college sports for more than forty years. “There are no limits. There’s no cap.”

Like many of its peers, the UI athletic department has grown dramatically. The total number of athletic department staff, according to the university’s academic personnel books, has risen from eighty-eight in 1997, to one hundred and ninety-six in 2017. That’s a whopping one hundred and twenty three percent increase (+123%) in athletic staff. (Compare that with the number of tenured faculty, which is basically unchanged over that same twenty years, while the total number of students has increased by 25%).

Fig. 2: Data from the University of Illinois Academic Personnel “Gray” Books

More staff costs taxpayers more money. New hires add to the total benefit costs that Illinois taxpayers have to pay. As long as TV revenue for broadcast rights continues to grow as it has, the number of athletic department employees is likely to grow with it to keep up with the competition. It’s strangely ironic that the more TV money the UI athletic department gets, the more it could actually end up costing the taxpayers.

Of course, the athletic department doesn’t have to hire more staff. The number of sports offered by the UI hasn’t changed for decades. But no one seems to be willing to ask the simple question: why does athletics really need to keep hiring more people? Maybe it’s because we already know the answer: because everyone else is doing it.

And unfortunately the even more important follow-up question is never asked either: since athletics keeps getting more and more revenue, why doesn’t it pay the benefits for its own employees instead of the taxpayers?

That answer is easy too. Because we allow it to happen, that’s why. And why do we allow it to happen? Perhaps because we believe these statements:

“This doesn’t come out of tuition. It doesn’t come out of state funding. It’s strictly out of athletic funds,” said U of I Trustee Edward McMillian in a News-Gazette story after a new coaching hire.

“Coaching contracts are covered by athletic department income, not tuition or state funds,” noted U of I Trustee Timothy Koritz in another newspaper story.

“The state of Illinois does not fund coaches’ salaries,” said Robin Kaler, Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs.

“Intercollegiate Athletics is self-supported and does not use state funds, taxpayer dollars, or university funds for our salary program,” said Kent Brown, athletic department spokesman.

Alternative facts.  And round and round it goes.

Part of the four-part series The Multimillion-Dollar Head Fake (


Caption: Fig. 1: All data from U of I Academic Personnel Book

Caption: Fig. 2: Data from the University of Illinois Academic Personnel “Gray” Books

Announcing the 2019-2020 Social Justice Scholarship Winners

We congratulate the five winners of our 2019-2020 Social Justice Scholarship. The awards committee was impressed by the work of all of this year’s applicants. You can learn more about each of this year’s winner’s and their work below:

Buthaina Hattab is a rising Junior studying Political Science and Arabic. Raised by Palestinian immigrants, her passion for justice resides in everything that she does. She currently serves as Vice President of Students for Justice in Palestine, which has given her experience in collaboration and allyship with activist organizations and marginalized groups on campus. Recently, she introduced a resolution in the student government calling on the University to divest from companies that have committed human rights abuses. Seeking divestment from companies that have contributed to the Israeli occupation, ICE detention and deportation, and the prison industrial complex has connected students from different backgrounds to organize against companies that contribute to our collective oppression. Her work in social justice organizing informs her of how liberations and movements are intertwined. She plans to attend law school in the near future as a way to educate and empower underprivileged communities.

Eleanor Humphreys is a rising junior double majoring in Clinical-Community Psychology and Gender and Women’s Studies. With hopes of pursuing interests in reproductivity and sexual health in both academic and social spheres, these often become key components of her interest in social justice. From increasing the ability to make reproductive choices and advocating for increased funding for inclusive, evidence-based sex education, these issues are near and dear to her and those she loves. Given such, much of her recent activism has related to the wave of restrictions placed upon such matters under the current administration. On campus, she is involved in the campus chapter of Amnesty International, research with the psychology department on matters of diversity and sexual/domestic violence, and both FYCARE and Iconnect programs. Now more than ever activism is essential to the pursuit of progress within social, environmental, and economic spheres.

Sophie Luijten is a rising junior majoring in Global Studies and Spanish, with a concentration in Environmental Sustainability and Social Responsibility. She is dedicated to promoting environmental justice and immigrant rights. Sophie has worked as a research assistant at the Safe Global Water Institute, where she studied wastewater treatment in pursuit of alternative water resources under the guidance of Dr. M.J. Plewa. She has engaged in immigrant advocacy work as a Spanish Translator for the Immigration Project and as Integration Plan Intern at the New American Welcome Center, the latter for which she researched equitable community planning strategies in the development of a citywide immigrant integration plan. Additionally, she has contributed to service projects with the Hunger and Homelessness Project, Habitat for Humanity, and at Clark-Lindsey Village. Most recently, Sophie has been a featured contributor to the IPRH Environmental Humanities Undergraduate Research Journal with her research paper, Climate Change and Women’s Security: Case Study in Mozambique. She has also been granted a Summer Research Award from the Campus Honors Program to research women’s empowerment strategies in the Global South under the guidance of Dr. Valeria Bonatti. She is a Chancellor’s Scholar, James Scholar, Dean’s List honoree, and Global Studies Leader on campus. Through these opportunities, she aims to better understand connections between poverty, sustainability, and immigration to help create a more inclusive and robust society. Sophie hopes to pursue a career in equitable, sustainable development in order to protect both vulnerable populations and resources.

Kevin F. Garcia is an incoming senior at the university seeking a dual-degree in finance and I/O psychology with a minor in Spanish. In addition to his academics, Kevin seeks to serve his communities through his involvement with RSO’s including the Illinois – Coalition Assisting Undocumented Education, Prospanica, and a few more! Through I-CAUSE, Kevin has been able to work with an awesome team that has been able to create opportunities, educate the community, and lead efforts to change for the undocumented community. Additionally, Kevin has been able to co-found Prospanica with his partner Laura, in efforts to develop aspiring Hispanic professionals through entrepreneurship. Kevin is more than excited to continue this work and continue advocating for minorities throughout his life even as he progresses in his career in finance. Moreover, Kevin is thrilled to be selected as a CFA scholarship recipient and recognizes that this contribution to his academic career and work in social justice is a blessing and promises to continue paying it forward. 

Jessie VanDyke is a 3rd-year student at UIUC studying Agricultural and Consumer Economics with a Concentration in Environmental Economics and Policy and a Minor in Spanish. Her journey with activism started way back in 6th grade when she joined the Youth Leadership Academy, a 6-year program focusing on service learning and college readiness. Throughout her time there she led numerous projects revolving around issues affecting her home community of Elgin, Illinois such as homelessness and police brutality. Coming to UIUC, she has focused her activism on the environment by getting involved with Students for Environmental Concerns and Fossil Free UIUC, an organization dedicated to getting the University to divest from the fossil fuel industry. In addition to her activism with these student organizations she is also an ACE Ambassador, helping prospective ACE Students navigate the college decision process, and a Data Preprocessing Research Assistant for the BDEEP Housing Discrimination Project. Jessie is excited to see what the future brings and more motivated than ever to promote the success of intersectional activist movements on campus!

Statement of Solidarity with those Fighting Racism and Police Violence

The Campus Faculty Association stands in solidarity with those all over the nation engaged in the struggle against racism and police violence. As educators we have a special responsibility to dismantle the systems of oppression that again and again deprive our African American brothers and sisters of their very right to live.

We call on all CFA members to do whatever they can to contribute to the ongoing struggle for racial justice, both here in our own community of Champaign-Urbana and in communities around the country.

Along with other acts of solidarity and support, we encourage members to join CFA in donating to one of the organizations raising funds in response to the arrests of protestors, such as:

Champaign County Bailout Coalition

List of Bail Funds from across the U.S.


CFA Executive Committee

CFA Statement on Plans for the Fall 2020 Semester

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

Statement on the Response to COVID-19

The last week has been extraordinarily difficult for so many in our community. As we make sense of our new reality and confront the uncertainty of what lies ahead, let us affirm some core principles that guide our collective work on our campus.

Support for Our Colleagues

As an organization dedicated to supporting faculty at UIUC, we express our solidarity with all of our colleagues across campus. Together, we find ourselves scrambling to meet the educational needs of our nearly 50,000 students who are now themselves scattered across the country in the midst of a public health emergency. Let us remind each other that we are not in this work alone. As we prepare to do our very best for our students, let us rely on each other for help, sympathy, and support.

We are all confronting the enormous challenge of facilitating a transition to online teaching by next Monday. We object to the notion that all faculty members can or must comply with immediate calls for making this transition. Effective online teaching requires significant preparation. It is unrealistic to expect that faculty can move in-person courses online quickly while still providing the quality of teaching to which we are all committed. Such a transition is especially difficult for faculty who now have to care for children whose schools have been closed and for elder relatives who are practicing social distancing and thus need help in meeting their everyday needs.

We proceed from the position that all faculty on our campus are fully committed to our students’ education and their overall welfare under these dire conditions. We thus support any faculty or executive officer who delays in responding, or refuses to respond, to administrative requests for immediate Excel tracking of class transitions to online formats.

A growing body of evidence suggests that traditional forms of teaching evaluation — such as ICES scores — fail to effectively represent the work that faculty do in the classroom, even under the best of campus conditions. The extraordinary circumstances we confront today, including the sudden imperative to change how we teach on short notice, will render Spring 2020 ICES scores even less useful.

We also call on executive officers and campus leaders to ensure that faculty’s consideration for reappointment, promotion, and related matters will not suffer on account of the time they lose due the additional care they provide or inability to make progress in their research.

Support for Our Students

As we scramble to transition to alternative modes of instruction, our campus must recognize the reality of unequal access to distance learning technology among our students. While some of our students will have the technological infrastructure required for successful distance learning at their disposal, many will not. It must not be the case that a reliable internet connection, possession of a personal computer, or facility with new tools like Zoom are now prerequisites for inclusion in UIUC’s community of learners. It is the responsibility of campus administrators to address these critical issues of student access, and to recognize that, for many of our students, online education cannot replace the in-person classroom.

For many UIUC students, this campus is home. We support the decision to keep housing and basic services available for those students who need to be here, in contrast to the immediate closures of residence halls on some other campuses. We must also recognize the considerable labor and risk that this decision entails for other members of our community, including our staff colleagues across campus.

We know that students not only call our campus home, but rely on employment — both on-campus and in the broader C-U community — to support themselves and members of their families. As a university we must do everything we can to ensure that the current public health crisis does not create further economic hardships for anyone in our community. To this end, we call on UIUC to continue paying students and other workers their full wages, even if they are unable to work or prohibited from working.

Solidarity with Other Campus Workers

As always, CFA stands in solidarity with other campus workers. We are mindful of the enormous and mounting burdens that these circumstances are placing on everyone who works at UIUC. For example, building service workers — among the most underpaid and precariously employed of our campus colleagues — are working overtime to keep all of us safe during an unprecedented public health crisis. Graduate students, faced with carrying out their teaching and research under these rapidly changing conditions, are currently in negotiations over wages with the UIUC administration. We stand with them in their efforts to ensure excellence in our campus’s working and learning conditions.

We Want to Hear From You

As with our teaching, our organizing in the midst of this crisis brings great uncertainty and new challenges. We believe that in addition to social distancing, solidarity is more essential than ever. CFA can only be as effective as our ability to hear from each other about the problems — and solutions — that emerge in our various corners of campus. Tell us what is happening in your units, what issues you face, and how we can support one another.