FA Agenda Packets

Questioner: Anonymous

Posed To: David Fenner, FA President 

Questions 1 and 2

FA President – (Part One)
The last few meetings, new “questions and comments” to the Faculty Association have not been included in the agenda packet — as they have in the past. This was a valuable service to the faculty who cannot attend Faculty Association meetings but wish to be informed. Written inclusion of the questions was also helpful to those attending the meeting. Inclusion of the questions provided context to the discussion and encouraged accountability on the part of those questioned.

(Part Two)

I was pleased to receive the FA president’s email speaking against “pushback” and defending the long standing tradition of anonymous questions to administrators and others at FA meetings. All the reasons offered by the FA president to justify the questions, and the option of anonymity by the author, are absolutely correct. However, contrary to the FA president’s defense, the pushback appears to be working. Whether by design or fiat, the FA’s recent decision to stop publishing the text of new questions in the agenda packet means that faculty can no longer easily read the questions. If the FA is serious about defending the right of faculty to ask questions (anonymous or otherwise), please bring back the long-standing tradition of publishing the questions in the FA packet.

 

Response from the floor by David Fenner, FA President:

At the beginning of this year, when Dan Richard created his index for the questions, we decided that we would only publish in the agenda packet information that faculty didn’t have otherwise, So, instead of publishing all of the questions that were unanswered, instead of publishing the questions that were answered from the floor, we decided on a practice of publishing only those questions and answers where the answers were provided to us in writing. I’m going to go back to the—and we’ve already started the conversation—I’m going to go back to the leadership and ask if we want to go back to the practice of publishing all of the questions that were answered from the floor and in writing. We’ve not had any written responses to any questions in the last three or four months; they’ve all been answered from the floor. We will go back to that practice. What we will probably not do however, is publish all of the unanswered questions that just sort of sit for a while. We’re trying to get on top of that. We are on top of that right now. Last, I checked, we had zero unanswered questions. We’ve gotten it all the way down to zero. There’s a few there now because we are waiting for the minutes to come back, but we [FA leadership] are going to talk about this.

Regarding Anonymous Questions

Comment from FA Vice President Dr. Gordon Rakita regarding the anonymous questions:

There are faculty members and administrators at UNF that will attest to my support for the tradition of the anonymous question here at UNF. Our Past President John Delaney and I have debated their merit multiple times. I do not believe I have convinced him of my position; I know he has not convinced me of his.

In the face of administration intransigence or poor judgment – as a recourse to administrative inaction or the administration ignoring legitimate faculty grievance – the anonymous question has its place. However, of late, I fear too many faculty resort to the anonymous question to vilify administration – and I fear that some do so precisely because they know that they can remain anonymous.

If they have sought answer or recompense from multiple venues and the anonymous question is still the last place to plead their case – then I bid them welcome to it. However, if their intention is not to seek resolution, if they have not sought explanation or mutual understanding through other means – then I ask them to consider carefully. I especially appeal to that full, tenured faculty – if your grievance is valid you will find support for your position.

Further, for untenured colleagues, I offer this suggestion – select a trusted member of the Union or the Faculty Association and raise your issue with them confidentially. We who have agreed to serve here are to do just that. We can offer counsel, we can advocate for your point of view, and we can protect your identity if you fear reprisal. Allow us to do our join and act as your representative. Our voice as your representative is stronger if you place your trust in us. And to my administrative colleagues – I urge you to take the anonymous questions seriously. My experience has been that the number of questions and the level of thinly veiled antipathy within that are a fairly reasonable proxy for the ire of the faculty. It is a foolish leader who ignores the opinions and voices of those they lead. I appreciate your indulgence.