Create caregiver labor equity at University of Oregon during COVID-19

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Recently, the Center for the Study of Women in Society sent an urgent request to University of Oregon leadership asking for action to alleviate labor inequities for faculty, staff, and GEs that have arisen from the coronavirus pandemic.

As these faculty testimonials demonstrate, COVID-19 has uncovered many aspects of our institutional practice that have historically rendered certain labor invisible and left others more vulnerable. The costs of continued expectations for service and research added to teaching demands on junior faculty and others who have to keep on doing child and elder care and schooling will be cumulative and have differential impact. This will be evident not just during the period before there is a vaccine but going forward in their academic careers. More funding for COVID-related research will not alleviate the compounding disadvantage experienced by caretakers.

How can that be addressed in flexible standards and evaluation metrics into the future? We, the signers of this petition, request the UO take the following steps: 

1. Repurpose resources allotted for faculty research accounts (ASAs) and other funds to support caretakers. This includes revising the intended use of pools of money already available to faculty, such as start-up packages, or other funds for research and travel to pay for childcare. 

2. Waive all non-essential service until there is a COVID-19 vaccine (such as curriculum reform, peer teaching reviews, attendance at non-essential faculty meetings, reviewing core curriculum). 

3. Suspend “on track” standards for research productivity until a vaccine is available. This includes reevaluating metric indicators and timely progress standards for tenure and other merit reviews. 

4. Develop a research accommodation opt-in policy like the tenure clock extension granted to all those with caretaking responsibilities affected by COVID-19.

5. Instruct department heads and deans to evaluate teaching loads and student enrollments. Those with heavier caretaking needs should be granted teaching relief and GE assistance. Analyzing student credit hour metrics allows deans and department heads to see how the workload of educating our students is distributed across faculty.

6. Collectively identify essential strategies of caring. This includes support systems within departments but also across the university for parents, children, and volunteer or paid childcare workers. It could include a sick-day bank for faculty to donate sick days to other faculty who need them to stay home and care for children and elders.