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February 16, 2021 Executive Committee minutes

Attending: L.E. Alexander, Rich Brandenburg, Shane Brogan, Jen DeNeal, Phil Edwards, Shayla Evans-Hollingsworth, Stephanie Forman, Adrianne Gibilisco, Natasha Hanks, Shayna Hill, Keith Hines, James Holman, Arlene Medder, Katie Musgrove, Natiaya Neal, Brooke O’Neal, Ayla Ocasio, Laura Pratt, Kevin Robinson, Robert Smith III, Antonio Squire, Charles Streeter (ex-officio), Rose Thorp, Jacob Womack

Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 11:32 a.m. Arlene Medder moved to approve the January minutes, seconded by Jacob Womack. The motion was approved by acclamation.

Ayla Ocasio and Matt Banks presented the Forum’s monthly budget report. Banks had drafted a budget for FY 2022 for consideration by the committee. The Chair proposed that the committee take a month to study the draft and vote in March whether to approve. Banks noted that several items in the Forum’s normal budget are still under State spending limitations but might be allowed under other rules.

A question arose as to whether only employees with 100% on-campus responsibilities will be eligible for the Phase 3 vaccine designation. There was a general concern that employees, particularly faculty, who have less than 100% on-campus duties will not have that designation. Committee members thought that the definitions were still unclear. The Chair proposed inviting Catherine Brennan of Environment, Health, and Safety to speak with the Forum at its March meeting to help answer some of these questions.

Jen DeNeal thought that communications around this issue could be improved, as rumors have governed employee knowledge to this point. She said that there needs to be more transparency around initiatives to vaccinate people. Members noted cases in which “leftover” vaccines are available at drugstores or to volunteers in vaccination clinics. These alternative methods are not common knowledge. Jacob Womack thought that communication issues might originate from the State level. Katie Musgrove noted her difficulties explaining to staff who do not work on-campus 100% of the work week that they will not be eligible for Phase 3 vaccinations. Robert Smith III proposed asking Brennan for clarification.

The Chair noted concern that people involved with the testing program also appeared in photographs of the high-profile Franklin Street celebration. She reported that Faculty Chair Mimi Chapman had termed this act a perfect example of white privilege. A delegate wondered if any clusters have been reported resulting from the celebrations. The Chair had not heard of any clusters being reported so far. She was also concerned about March 6th, the date of the next Duke-UNC game. A delegate commented that a diehard group of students does not seem terribly concerned about virus protocols. Another delegate proposed that the Forum could raise a question about the disparity between the number of investigations and the volume of students violating protocol.

The Chair opened discussion regarding a request that the Forum establish a position on the AAUP call for Chancellor Guskiewicz to step down following news articles related to the “Silent Sam” controversy. Delegates were unfamiliar with the AAUP (American Association of University Professors). There was a question as to what the Forum would gain by allying itself to the AAUP’s call. Another delegate observed that the AAUP seems to have not done coalition building around this issue. The Chair was uncertain whether the AAUP statement represented all faculty. A delegate was more bothered by what they saw as overreach by the Board of Governors and State Legislature in this area. The Chair agreed that supporting the AAUP statement seemed out of bounds for the Forum given the lack of faculty consensus on the matter.

Other delegates emphasized the need for truth and transparency from administration officials. The Chair noted questions about former Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Clayton Summers’ position and role in this concern, and about other administrative employees. The committee agreed to invite Interim Vice Chancellor for Finance & Operations Nate Knuffman to discuss these questions.

The Chair opened discussion of the draft resolution on suspension impacts and acute budgetary challenges. Laura Pratt noted that Career Banding seems to be going away in the long run. She thought the resolution should denote items that the Forum does not want repeated in the new system. The Chair observed a lack of discussion around staff employee career progression in recent University discussions. Delegates discussed other proposed changes for the resolution.

Matt Banks described the upcoming election process, concluding with the June election of officers. The Chair asked that the video from last year be reproduced in election publicity this year.

Arlene Medder noted that the Carolina Community Garden will distribute tomato, pepper, and cilantro seedlings this year.

L.E. Alexander reported that the Education and Career Development committee will meet with Vice Chancellor Becci Menghini to talk about the University’s plan for staff employee career development.

Shane Brogan reported that the Communications and Public Relations committee will work to replace Greg Smith, who is leaving for a position at NC State University this month.

James Holman noted that SEANC District 25 had distributed 1,000 goodie bags to facilities services workers and $1,000 to Empowerment, the local non-profit. He hoped that SEANC would donate to the Carolina Community Garden as well.

The Chair reviewed upcoming presenters for Forum meetings in March, April, and May. She asked that the Forum election video contain a disclaimer regarding the lack of masks in the video.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned by acclamation at 1:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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