Allow BU Faculty and Staff to Work from Anywhere During Spring 2021

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While there have been varied responses to the Learn from Anywhere model BU adopted for the Fall 2020 semester, there is no doubt the option for students to stay home has contributed to BU's limited number of positive COVID cases. However, worrisome trends across the country, including in our very own city of Boston, should have prompted reconsideration from BU's administration regarding operations during the Spring 2021 semester. BU plans to continue its LfA model for undergraduates, but is planning to force almost all faculty back. This policy does not make sense given the pandemic's likeliness to peak in January, nor does it make sense given the responsibilities many faculty members are now shouldering with little help. Therefore, we oppose requiring faculty and staff to work in-person for the Spring 2021 semester. We call for allowing them to Work from Anywhere, just as undergraduates have been allowed to Learn from Anywhere.

Pushing BU faculty and staff to return to campus for in-person instruction in the spring is a reckless, dangerous public health decision. As members of families and larger communities, these faculty and staff members, in addition to their professional roles at the University, may also be caretakers of high-risk individuals; by forcing them to work on campus in the spring we are putting those people’s lives at risk. Boston University is not isolated from the City of Boston, and to force faculty and staff to return to pre-pandemic times’ work environment while neglecting the massive uptick in cases in Boston is illogical and tone-deaf. This policy also disregards the familial responsibilities many of our faculty and staff members have, especially the women of BU. As studies have shown, the pandemic has asymmetrically harmed working mothers. As a university with an almost 60 percent female undergraduate population, we would be remiss to not call on our university to disband a policy that would almost universally force female professors to choose between staying home with their kids--whose schooling and daycares are still remote--and their careers. A university that prides itself on its diversity and inclusion efforts cannot stake these claims while pursuing a policy that would undoubtedly reduce the number of women in our faculty and steer potential faculty and staff members away from our community.

We are not calling for the suspension of in-person classes—we are calling for giving faculty and staff the opportunity to teach and work from anywhere. Faculty and staff deserve the same autonomy that has been granted to students in order for our campus to remain a place that permits dialogue, safety, and personal freedoms. The pandemic is far from over. We must support one another as a community to get through this. That includes standing in solidarity with those who do not currently have a voice. As it has become increasingly evident that the university is most willing to listen to its undergraduate population, we respectfully request BU to allow faculty the option to opt out of in-person teaching with no repercussions.

 

Petition started by Madison Sargeant (Pardee '21) and Leen Arnaout (ENG '21)