What is the KU (P)lan for Fall 2020?

The rapidly changing plan being touted by KU administrators, widely referred to as the KU (P)lan, has few cornerstones available for analysis and a number of deficiencies which must be addressed before this plan can be seriously considered. (Click here to review the GTAC Win-Win Plan, a safe and responsible alternative to the deadly KU (P)lan.) We will begin by addressing the things we do know and then address the obvious deficiencies. If you have questions, concerns, or additional information about any of these deficiencies, please contact us by email at gtacunion@gmail.com or by posting in our private GTA-only Facebook Group.

Under the KU (P)lan, all courses which are regularly offered as in-person (P) will return to in-person by default. KU administrators have stated in writing that they will not, under any circumstances, allow those in-person courses to instead be offered as online (WW) courses. While some courses may be allowed to function as hybrid courses (HC or HO), where students would meet in-person for project meetings, small group discussions, etc. but receive lectures and some other content online, the default course offering will be in-person, irrespective of the needs or agency of workers, students, or our greater Lawrence community.

Unless of course, KU administrators determine that their own institutional liability requires another campus closure, in which case instructors will again be forced to rework courses into online versions in their own time and at their own expense, in violation of state and federal labor laws.

Under the KU (P)lan, all instructors of in-person courses must stand ready to separately offer online teaching and resources to those undergraduate students who opt-out of some in-person portions of coursework. The KU (P)lan does not address who will create this multi-modal curriculum, how this curriculum will be adjusted to meet worker and student needs throughout the semester, or how the creation of this multi-modal curriculum will be funded.

The forced risks of the KU (P)lan violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, the collective right of Graduate Teaching Assistants to negotiate their own working conditions under the Public Employee/Employer Relations Act, and the individual right of every member of our community to determine their own personal acceptable level of risk. The KU (P)lan also fails to consider that our individual needs will change over time, that community and personal health conditions will change over time, and that some of these changes will happen rapidly. Overall, the KU (P)lan fails to offer even the minimum necessary flexibility to workers or students, while demanding unlimited flexibility from workers and students where convenient for KU administrators.

Finally and most importantly, the KU (P)lan demands that graduate teachers and instructors sacrifice their lives on the altar of the “on campus experience”. Please understand that this is not hyperbole. If we return to in-person courses this fall, some GTAs will die. A disproportionate number of these GTAs will be Black and/or Indigenous people. For the reasons described above, but most critically because of the required loss of life, the KU (P)lan is unacceptable.

Graduate teachers are not disposable. Black and Indigenous lives matter more than anyone’s “on-campus experience”. We deserve better and we will get it.

Our risk is our choice. Period.

Questions & Deficiencies Obvious Within the KU (P)lan To Date:

  • Curriculum Costs & Quality of Curriculum Under the KU (P)lan
    • Who is going to create this curriculum? (KU rejected a plan under which GTAs would continue to work and be paid over the summer to create the curriculum for Fall 2020.)
    • How will these workers be paid? Where will this funding come from?
    • What are the minimum qualifications for those hired for this work?
    • To what standards will such curriculum be created, and who will oversee and review this process and product?
    • When can instructors expect to receive and review this curriculum?
    • Who will work to adjust this curriculum as needed throughout the semester, and how will those workers be paid?
  • Labor Costs & Quality of Instruction Under the KU (P)lan
    • Who will cover the additional hours of labor indicated by the multi-modal requirements of the KU (P)lan?
    • Doubling the FTE and associated salary of every GTA will cost approximately 5 million dollars. Where will this funding come from?
    • Not every GTA will be able and/or willing to accept this additional labor at the expense of their own education and careers. Who will be hired to cover this instructional and support gap?
    • How will KU provide coverage for exposed or ill instructors of in-person courses?
    • How will KU inform students when instructors become ill without violating HIPAA or worker confidentially?
    • What will this additional coverage cost, and how will this be funded?
    • How will all of these complicated factors affect the quality of teaching and learning at the University of Kansas?
  • Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Under the KU (P)lan
    • If unaddressed, any uncovered labor will fall onto already marginalized workers. How will KU prevent this from happening or address it when it does inevitably happen?
    • If unaddressed, any instructional and/or support gaps will disproportionately affect already marginalized students. How will KU prevent this from happening or address it when it does inevitably happen?
    • How will KU ensure that Black, Indigenous, International, Queer, trans, and/or low-income GTAs will not be forced into this work to the detriment of their own education?
    • How will KU ensure that every worker is paid for every hour of labor, and that already marginalized workers will not be forced to to work without consent and/or without pay, as happened at the University of Missouri-Kansas City during Barbara Bichelmeyer’s term as UMKC’s provost and executive vice chancellor?

Graduate teachers are not disposable. Black and Indigenous lives matter more than anyone’s “on-campus experience”. We deserve better and we will get it.

Our risk is our choice. Period.

Click here to review the GTAC Win-Win Plan.

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