The Stony Brook University chapter of United University Professions (UUP) is canceling all March UUP events and calling on the university for better communication, according to an email sent to members on March 11.
The email noted that members deserve “regular and timely updates” from the administration on how the university will be handling the coronavirus, or COVID-19, and listed several concerns. The announcement was sent at 10:57 a.m., before New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that state universities would be going remote after March 19 in an afternoon press conference. The university sent an email about two hours later.
The first item on the list was the need for “more regular and more complete communication to the Campus Community (faculty, staff, and students) as to what plans are being discussed regarding a response to COVID-19 for the remainder of the semester.”
“We appreciate that there is a dedicated link on the University’s website, but given the rapid developments, it needs to be updated more frequently,” the email read. “Communication needs to be sent out to the campus community as decisions are made. We should not wait for department heads to inform employees and students.”
The email also expressed the need for clarification on sick time; how student service offices will accommodate students impacted by travel restrictions; how collaborations with organizations like Brookhaven National Lab will be impacted; how the university will accommodate staff unable to work from home; how students will complete more hands-on coursework that can’t be taught remotely; and “clarification on ‘essential employee’ designations and processes if the governor calls for a shutdown.”
The email noted that UUP Statewide leadership is also working with “SUNY and key stakeholders in state government” for answers to these questions.
“Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions,” the email read. “The absence of clear communication to the campus community is very concerning.”