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Professors and staff voice opinions in shutdown survey

by Shelby Toth - Executive Editor
Thu, Feb 7th 2019 02:00 pm

When the fall semester comes to an end, and most students return to their homes, the work for the faculty and staff at the College at Brockport is far from done. Many professors still use their offices to grade and many full-time staff also put in hours during the holiday season.

For over a decade, the college has closed down parts of its operations and services in the last two weeks of December, according to Vice President for University Relations David Mihalyov. This year, however, the Cabinet has implemented a survey to gauge employee response to potentially changing the time frame of the shutdown. As previously mentioned many still work after the semester has ended and have found themselves sitting in unheated offices, needing IT or other help, but being unable to receive it.

According to the Daily Eagle, the newly proposed winter shutdown would run from Christmas, December 25, to New Year’s Day. It states that, if this were to happen, “individuals would still be able to take vacation days prior to the shutdown, just as they do now, but buildings would remain open and offices would remain partially staffed.”

The motivation for the shutdown, according to Mihalyov, was to try and save money where the college could.

“Initially, this was implemented as a cost-saving mechanism; if we do not fully heat the buildings during the last two weeks of December, the thinking went, we would save energy costs,” Mihalyov said. “The reality is, many people still work on campus during this period, and many offices need to be staffed because of activities taking place. Moreover, the cost savings have not been as significant as hoped.”

One professor, Barbara LeSavoy, believes that having the option to work during winter break if desired is important, something that could be done if the college shortened its winter shutdown.

“First of all, I want to preface this with saying that I think that any kind of work reduction or closure should always have opportunities for people to work,” LeSavoy said. “There are people who don’t necessarily have accrued vacation or holiday time, so if they have to charge it, I always think there should be flexibility for individuals to not have to be forced to take vacation or sick time.”

For this reason, she finds herself a fan of the proposed idea.

“With that, I want to say for faculty, at least speaking for myself, I would strongly advocate for a shorter time period that we’re closed down, and here’s my rationale,” LeSavoy said. “For faculty, we’re still working and often times, we are in our offices grading without heat. In the winter, when the college closes down like right away, we still have a whole week of grading to do. Some faculty have the luxury to do it in their home, some faculty need to use their offices and using our offices, it can be super super cold inside our buildings and it’s difficult.”

LeSavoy also mentioned that for faculty who are doing scholarly research, it can be hard to access research documents and get requests in on time in order to have sources to read over the break. She brings up the point that students who may need transcripts or are trying to appeal a grade may also be negatively impacted by the shutdown.

On the opposite side, she is aware of the positive green footprint Brockport may be attempting to have by closing down some of its services. That being said, LeSavoy is more of an advocate for finding a middle ground.

“If I were to rephrase my answer, I would say that if it meant providing more resources for students and providing the college more financial solvency, I would be all for [the longer shutdown],” LeSavoy said. “I’d work in the cold. I don’t mind sacrificing those things if it helps the campus, but I think there’s got to be a fine line.”

The survey prompts those filling it out for their name, division and a simple yes or no on if they support changing the shutdown range. It also provides a box for any additional comments. According to Mihalyov, the Cabinet has already received over 200 completed surveys. Faculty and staff have until February 15 to submit a survey.

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