Earlier this month, IFO executive committee members met with Interim Chancellor Malhotra and Minnesota State staff leadership for the first meet and confer of the 2017-2018 academic year. There were a few major topics on the agenda and the IFO had an opportunity to share feedback and concerns about those issues. Below, is a brief overview of the discussions from the meeting.
Comments from Interim Chancellor Davinder Malhotra
First, the Interim Chancellor laid out his reaction to the visits he has made to all college and university campuses as he began his tenure. He described the experience as both humbling and inspiring. Through the conversations he had on campuses, he has identified three major organizing principles that will guide his work throughout the next year.
1) Student success;
2) Diversity, equity, and inclusion;
3) Financial Sustainability.
System Actions to Support DACA Students and Staff
The IFO asked MinnState leadership to share what they are doing to support students and staff who are under attack after President Trump rescinded the DACA order. System leadership noted that they sent a letter to the entire Minnesota Congressional Delegation supporting a legislative fix for DACA. They also shared materials they had distributed to campus leaders. Of particular note due to its timeliness, they shared a document created by U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services that provides time sensitive guidance for individuals holding DACA status. That document can be viewed here.
Chancellor Malhotra thanked the IFO for our partnership in our collective effort to create and maintain welcoming and safe campus climates and to support all of those within our community that may be directly impacted by recent changes in federal actions.
President Grabowska also outlined a concern that any faculty or staff under the DACA program would be negatively impacted and asked whether the system had taken action to prepare and assist those people. They had not, and committed to finding if there were any faculty or staff that did need assistance.
Review of the System and Campus Free Speech Policies
IFO leaders urged the System to begin to review and provide assistance to campuses about free speech policies after the tragedy at UVA in Charlottesville, VA.
System General Counsel went through a few steps they had taken to combat this issue. First, they shared that they have communicated to campuses and presented a webinar to campus administrators. They also said they are reviewing the steps taken by other systems around the country and have asked campuses to run through exercises to prepare for such an event.
Respectful Workplace Procedure
Minnesota State has adopted a Respectful Workplace Procedure that addresses concerns about applicability to higher education of the Respectful Workplace Policy, which Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) had promulgated to cover state employees generally.
This resulting Procedure reflects a protracted process in which the IFO and MSCF (Minnesota State College Faculty union) have advocated for and achieved specific changes to address faculty concerns. Now that the Procedure is in effect, the IFO and Faculty Associations are engaging in the process of clarifying what it means and how it will work, beginning with the meet and confer process statewide and on campuses. For more info, please click here.
Winona State Email Migration Concerns
Winona State FA President Jenna Chernega laid out the serious concerns about a botched email migration process that happened in August and September. The System admitted there were many issues and has halted all future campus email migrations with the current vendor until a further review has been completed.
Campus Budgets Under Stress
IFO Leaders reminded the system leaders that our campuses are under extreme budget stress and asked to consider this as they move forward on projects like an ISRS overhaul.
Faculty Workload Management Concerns
The IFO continues to hear concerns from faculty about the inadequacy of the new Faculty Workload Management (FWM) software. The concerns that have been shared on each campus were passed along to system leaders and IFO leaders demanded action.
The next Meet and Confer between IFO and MinnState leaders will take place on Oct. 13.