September 5, 2020

A publication for faculty, campus staff, and students by the independent
Rank-and-File Temple (RAFT) Caucus

Hello Comrades!

We know everyone is going through it these days, and we know it’s been made worse by Temple Administration’s unwillingness to do what is necessary to protect the lives of ourselves, our colleagues, and our communities. In the days before Labor Day (as the U.S. celebrates it, unlike the rest of the world), we are committed to fighting for our rights and dignity and to making and sharing resources to support that fight! Here are some ideas:

First, reach out to your colleagues in RAFT and beyond to share what’s going on with you and to hear what’s up with others (if you have the bandwidth to do so)! Solidarity, including venting and kvetching, is super important! These times are showing that we are all we have.

Second, RAFT is co-sponsoring a socially-distanced Labor Day solidarity rally to support sanitation workers and other front-line workers. The rally is at 10:00 am at City Hall on Monday, 9/7. More information is available here. Please support this event if you are able!

Beyond that, there’s lots more to be involved in, and it can be restoring as well as commitment of our energies. On that note: we wanted to let you know about the Scholar Strike, which is not necessarily a labor action per se, but which is a way to actively show that we, right here where we are in our jobs, are supporting Black Lives Matter and condemn police violence, racialized violence, racism, and white supremacy. Dr. Anthea Butler, inspired by the WNBA and NBA, asked if professional athletes can step back and speak out; why can’t we? Drs. Butler and Kevin Gannon wrote an open letter summarizing their idea: “Scholar Strike is a day of action/teach-in/social justice advocacy happening on September 8-9 2020.” On these days, they are helping organize a variety of ways to participate, up to and including stopping work, but also participating in teach-ins, working “to rule” or other things. It was written up in Inside Higher Ed, but their own letter summarizing the idea is here, and if you want to sign up to support (on a list that will not be made public), you can sign up here

Many teachers and academic workers across the country are also standing up for their labor rights — and their lives — right now, and also need our support. One way is simply to use social media to express solidarity and generate awareness; a relevant hashtag is #DemandSafeSchools, which works for us and to support others too, like the United Teachers Federation (@UFT), the New York City teachers’ union, who may be authorizing a strike to protect their lives and those of students, students’ families, and the community. 

And as we call for schools and states to shift priorities away from private profit and towards community needs, we can also do that by supporting the encampments of houseless people that are facing eviction by the city (again). The city has refused to support the residents in finding permanent housing despite the Philadelphia Housing Authority having about 5,000 vacant properties. The city’s choice to send cops against poor people has to stop. There’s a rally Sunday, 9/6 at 5PM at City Hall to demand #PhillyHousingNow, and the eviction date is Wednesday (9/9) if you feel like hitting the streets again! To get more info and updates about the encampment, follow @campjtd on Instagram.

In addition, while Temple has announced that most classes will remain online for the rest of the fall semester, there are still many concerns about Temple’s handling of the COVID outbreak:

  • Faculty who teach classes deemed “essential” are required to continue teaching in person;
  • Many students may choose to stay on campus and continue spreading the virus among their classmates, Temple’s essential employees, and our North Philadelphia neighbors;
  • In some schools, administrators have dramatically increased caps on class size to accommodate the increased demand for online classes without hiring more employees. Some instructors are teaching classes nearly twice as large as those they signed up to teach, with no increase in pay or promise of reprieve; 
  • Temple’s policy on who owns the recordings and other materials for teaching in the online courses we are teaching is contradictory and unclear, and possibly in conflict with the AAUP/AFT’s Principles and Standards for a Higher Education Response to COVID-19

As Temple continually argues for austerity while continuing to pay the largest campus police force in the U.S, the call to #defundtupd is more relevant than ever. This overpolicing of Temple’s campus and the surrounding neighborhood is unnecessary and harmful, especially considering that TUPD has a documented history of racist policing, reported in articles like this. Follow @defundtupd on twitter or instagram and support better priorities in the Temple budget!

We need to continue holding Temple accountable for its actions. This is more effective and safer for all of us if we do it collectively. If you’re not already on RAFT’s discussion list and you want to be, email asking to be added. If you are, keep an eye out for upcoming meetings where you can help plan our next steps!

Sign our RAFT list of demands here

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