The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Supporting faculty and staff

Reflecting on Campus Climate Study results

The university-wide Campus Climate Study commissioned by St. Joe’s at the end of last academic year intended to gauge current levels of inclusion and equity on campus and determine if students, faculty and staff feel that the administration supports these issues.

The response rate among students was relatively low. The undergraduate response rate was 24.5 percent and the graduate response rate was only five percent. More than half (52.7 percent) of staff/administrators responded and 53.4 percent of tenured/tenure-track faculty took the survey. The responses yielded some concerning findings.

An executive summary of the study results released to the St. Joe’s community in an email last Thursday revealed that 45 percent of faculty respondents and 56 percent of staff respondents had seriously considered leaving St. Joe’s within the last year.

Reasons supplied by faculty included lack of access to resources and low pay, while staff who responded to the survey felt that they were not paid commensurate with their workloads and that there was a lack of advancement opportunities within their departments.

Our school would not be what it is without many of the incredible faculty members who go out of their way to ensure student success and the staff who keep St. Joe’s running day to day. The fact that nearly half of faculty and more than half of staff have recently considered leaving St. Joe’s should concern all of us.

St. Joe’s, as a private university, has a budget that fluctuates as new initiatives are introduced. Academic resources, as well as the salaries of faculty and staff, ought to be prioritized when deciding where to increase funding.

While it is encouraging that a sizable majority of faculty respondents–88 percent–feel valued by their students, if faculty ultimately do not feel that the St. Joe’s administration validates their hard work with sufficient pay and academic resources, they could begin to look for work at other universities.

Our primary purpose on campus is to get an education, and any disruption or turnover within academic departments would impact us as much as it would faculty. They deserve to feel validated in the work that they do and we as students deserve an education from faculty who are fully engaged as a result of that validation.

Students are able to provide feedback to professors in the form of course evaluations and the University Student Senate (USS) regularly holds open meetings with different administrative departments where students are invited to voice concerns.

All faculty—tenured, tenure-track and adjunct—should have similar opportunities to provide honest feedback and to engage directly with university leadership, offered on just as regular a basis.

Faculty Senate provides an opportunity for St. Joe’s faculty to gather, share ideas and present them to university leadership. However, their power to negotiate is limited, as St. Joe’s faculty do not participate in labor unions such as the American Association of University Professors.

Additionally, Faculty Senate is currently only open to full-time, tenured or tenure-track professors, according to the St. Joe’s Faculty Handbook. Adjunct professors effectively do not have any structured, facilitated opportunities to raise concerns with university leaders.

Simply providing discussion forums would not be enough. University leadership must be prepared to listen and take action in response to the concerns raised by faculty.

Staff are also integral to the functioning of our university. They do everything from prepare and serve food at Campion, treat students in the Health Center and organize voluminous amounts of information involving student records and financial aid.

The percentage of staff who recently considered leaving St. Joe’s is 11 points higher than the percentage of faculty who considered leaving, which should concern not only students, but university administrators who rely on the hard work of St. Joe’s staff to keep the school running.

University leadership should promptly address the concerns of staff respondents in a way that is mindful of the unique concerns they raised in the survey; specifically, the issues of perceived departmental hierarchies and “hostile supervisors” that staff highlighted as some of the most pressing challenges they face.

As students, we need to recognize the important work that staff do on a daily basis. That means not being rude or critical when service takes longer than we would prefer, or when we are given answers according to policies that staff are powerless to change.

Insufficient pay and difficult work environments are antithetical to the social justice values inherent in the St. Joe’s mission statement. The fact that the university commissioned the Campus Climate Study in the first place shows that they value the voices of all who make St. Joe’s what it is. We have the results.

Now let’s make a change.

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