Comments on college employment

I am deeply troubled by systems of oppression, racism, violence, and inequities. I am grateful to all of those who work here to uncover, dismantle, repair and transform oppressive systems and actions into just and equitable systems and actions. I recognize and I participate in this hard work every single day on campus, in schools and, hopefully, in my thoughts and actions generally in the world.

I think one of the most significant actions we at Guilford College can take is to reform our employment practices. Not by supporting a “fire at will” mentality, but by ensuring that every person who works on this campus has a fair, equitable, supportive contract. As this is a “right to work” state, it is vital that we make a statement that supports workers and we can start by making our campus one in which all workers feel safe to voice their concerns, to be treated fairly in difficult negotiations, and to the rights of due process.

I am deeply saddened by our approach to making this campus less oppressive and racist when immediate actions against individuals can be taken because those individuals do not have strong contracts. I know I do not have all the information nor the full picture/context, but treating people humanely and fairly seems to be what we strive to do. Even if what I am responding to is an appearance of what ‘actually’ happened, it is a devastating one.

No matter what our current efforts are, I strongly assert my belief that standing up for the rights of all the workers on this campus is a step we can take without causing undue suffering, oppression, unfairness. I suggest we work to make sure that every worker is protected by a clear, strong, equitable contract.

— Julie Burke

[Julie originally posted this as a comment on another section of the site. I moved it to the main feed as a post with her permission.]

One Comment

  1. Thank you, Julie, and thank you, Dave, for posting this. As a staff member, I have frequent conversations about this because we don’t have the protection of tenure. Many staff hesitate confronting unfairness and bullying for fear of their jobs becoming more difficult or, worse, fear of termination. These conversations are with people who do excellent work and are dedicated to the college. While the effectiveness of 360° evaluations are debatable, I often wish Guilford could become a leader among colleges and universities in developing more collaborative or participatory evaluation. These are models that see evaluation and assessment as tools for problem solving. A good leader is someone who values those s/he works with and does everything to try to keep the whole intact and doing good work over many years. This good work that needs a climate of safety and collaboration includes all Guilford staff from the Dining Hall and Housekeeping to the Bonner Center and the library.