October 20, 2020 Executive Committee minutes
Delegates Attending: L.E. Alexander, Shane Brogan, Tiffany Carver, Jen DeNeal, Phil Edwards, Shayna Hill, Keith Hines, Haydèe Marchese, Arlene Medder, Katie Musgrove, Ayla Ocasio, Laura Pratt, Kevin Robinson, Jacob Womack
Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 11:35 a.m. She asked that the committee discuss the Covid-19 survey report. She welcomed Daily Tar Heel reporter Cameron Milne.
Jen DeNeal spoke on the report, inviting co-authors to share their thoughts. Stephanie Forman thought that distribution should be as broad as possible. Katie Musgrove asked if the authors had obtained permission from those pictured in the report’s photographs. Kevin Robinson said that the photos are part of the UNC Photo Shelter and are licensed for use. However, the committee agreed the report should contain a statement that employees pictured do not endorse the report and are not quoted.
Phil Edwards thought that the Forum could emphasize in its town hall an impact on University choices during the pandemic. He also thought that decisionmakers should be invited to the upcoming town hall to hear from those affected. Jen DeNeal agreed with sentiment that the town hall should not simply be a listening session. Arlene Medder thought employees want to hear about actions given their uncertainty and stress levels. Edwards agreed getting away from “toxic positivity” is a good idea.
Jacob Womack thought it important to give administrators a chance to read the report before the town hall. Stephanie Forman asked that staff concerns take center stage at the event. The Chair noted that this concern about sidelining staff issues has come up in other discussions. The committee agreed to forward a revised report to the Chancellor and Provost by the following day.
Laura Pratt confirmed that the Forum intends to hold the town hall before Thanksgiving. Phil Edwards asked that the Forum invest in live captioning for this event.
At this point the Chair took her leave to attend a meeting with the Chancellor. Vice Chair Katie Musgrove thus ran the meeting in the Chair’s stead.
Musgrove recognized Ayla Ocasio to speak on the Forum budget. Ocasio noted new blanket limitations on trust fund expenditures. She added that certain expenditures are still under consideration for approval by Finance. Musgrove thanked Ocasio and Matt Banks for their hard work on the budget. She hoped that expenditures on items like the blood drive would soon be approved.
Musgrove asked for a motion to approve the September minutes of the committee. Arlene Medder made this motion seconded by Phil Edwards. The motion was approved by acclamation.
Shane Brogan discussed the Communications & Public Relations committee’s scavenger hunt plans for Employee Appreciation events later in October. He said that the hunt would feature physical and virtual clues for employees to pursue. Musgrove offered to create a website page for the event.
Laura Pratt said that the OHR emphasis on flu clinics did not make her feel particularly appreciated. Angenette McAdoo said that she would check as to any additional plans for the events. Musgrove recalled plans for the drive-through breakfast and other events. She did not know why the flu clinics were emphasized in the advertising.
Laura Pratt noted feelings among staff wishing that the administration had earlier communicated its intentions to cancel meetings for the mental health break day. Musgrove said that many employees could not cancel their meetings on such short notice.
Jacob Womack of the Community Service committee noted the budget situation facing the Holiday Blood Drive. Jen DeNeal said that the Drive now waits to hear if it will receive an exception to allow funding for its efforts in November. She said that employees should have received formal notice as to volunteer sign-up opportunities. Several attendees said that they had not received this message.
Arlene Medder had no update regarding the Carolina Community Garden.
There was no report from the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee. Kevin Robinson recalled that the committee wanted to obtain a group email address. Banks said that one was already available in Teams.
L.E. Alexander reported that the Education & Career Development committee had postponed its most recent meeting given budget cuts. She said that the committee has revised plans for the mini-conference on higher education, now to take place tentatively in mid-summer. Laura Pratt confirmed that Carolina Family Scholarship discussions will occur in the spring.
Tiffany Carver of the Membership & Assignments committee recognized the newly married pair of Ayla Ocasio and Jacob Womack. It was noted that this is the second pair of delegates to be married while in service. Ocasio thanked all for their love and support.
Phil Edwards of the Personnel Issues committee recalled that the Vice Chancellor representatives’ meeting had revealed that the Covid-19 leave bank had received 200 donated hours and had approved five applicants, with another two denied for not exhausting leave. He said it is unclear what will happen to these hours once the program expires.
Musgrove noted that UNC Health has decided to not participate in the Clear Pricing Project organized by the State Treasurer. Angenette McAdoo advised employees to sign up for open enrollment as soon as possible. Musgrove recognized James Holman, initial winner of the Rebecca Clark Staff Award for Moral Courage. She congratulated new lifetime delegate Laurie Mesibov. Kevin Robinson shared the physical certificate he had produced for Mesibov.
Keith Hines said that the UNC System Staff Assembly will meet the following week.
Musgrove asked for suggestions for upcoming monthly speakers. Laura Pratt proposed that the Forum reserve time for discussions following the November 3rd elections. Musgrove added that the Forum could invite Chancellor Guskiewicz to speak at the December 2nd meeting. Phil Edwards suggested inviting Michael Palm from the American Association of University Professors to present at a Forum meeting. Musgrove agreed with the value of inviting diverse groups to meetings. She asked Edwards to work to invite these people to an upcoming Forum meeting.
Arlene Medder asked if the Forum planned to have translators for non-English speakers or hearing-impaired attendees at the upcoming town hall. Banks said that the Forum already does captioning for its meetings. He would work to find information on possible translators. Edwards noted that Zoom can switch audio feeds on demand.
Members discussed various activities in their departments while waiting for the Chair’s return. Keith Hines noted that the Carolina Union series Ask Me Anything will feature Forum Chair Shayna Hill at its October 28th event.
Laura Pratt asked what areas are doing to show appreciation to staff and colleagues given budget restrictions. Haydèe Marchese recalled that the Carolina Union social committee had hosted several Zoom house parties in which extroverts discussed ideas. The group created a calendar of activities to share with unit staff members. Katie Musgrove recalled that the Law School had an activity in which employees selected a song that described them, then others were asked to guess who picked which song and find out why.
Angenette McAdoo said that the Office of Human Resources did a whole month on Being Social While Distancing. The month featured a Pet Party asking employees to give a three-minute speech about their pets. Other events included a class on stretching while sitting and a healthy eating seminar. Finally, employees conducted a Pictionary game via Zoom.
Tiffany Carver announced creation of Carver Customs LLC to do event planning, party décor and personalized items. Shane Brogan noted that Linda’s restaurant is open that day taking food orders.
The Chair returned from her meeting with the Chancellor. She said that no new information was shared beyond the possible $300 million shortfall facing the System. She, Faculty Chair Mimi Chapman, and Student Government representatives gave feedback on developments. The Chair emphasized that the amount of “we’re fine” talk had not matched the recent hiring freeze and other difficulties facing staff. She had said that people would feel very betrayed if they were working so hard to make Spring instruction happen then were to face Reductions in Force of their positions. She emphasized the importance of continued communication and honesty regarding future plans.
Members discussed recommendations of the Campus and Community Advisory committee given the University calendar and faculty modes of instruction. The Chair noted that staff do not have the opportunity to choose whether to return to campus that faculty do. She asked if things have changed enough to change the density of students on campus.
Jacob Womack noted complaints from students about bait and switch tactics related to instruction but recalled the incredibly complex details of scheduling and room reservation facing administrators.
In the absence of further discussion, the Chair called for a motion to adjourn. Arlene Medder made this motion seconded by Laura Pratt. The meeting adjourned by acclamation at 1:23 p.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary