Today for a special edition of the ADVANCE Weekly Roundup, we’d like to highlight some of the challenges facing faculty and staff while working from home during the pandemic. It should be noted that while everyone encounters them, these challenges can have a larger impact on women and primary caregivers. This list has been compiled from faculty comments, our own experiences, or reports in the national news.
Childcare challenges: despite ongoing demands for research and publishing, childcare remains inadequate both during the academic year and throughout the summer. In addition, local schools are unlikely to follow the same timeline as Michigan Tech’s return to work, leaving parents responsible for temporary solutions.
Healthcare challenges: caring for ill family members can drain a faculty member’s energy and focus yet this responsibility is often immediate, demanding, and isolating.
Underlying conditions: the critical impact of often invisible underlying health conditions has been magnified in the current pandemic but these conditions must be managed daily and often with little or no recognition or support for the challenges involved.
Stress and challenges to mental well-being: there are insufficient resources for faculty and staff both on campus and in the local area for addressing stress, burn-out, and well-being in ways that are confidential, readily available, and move beyond or at least personalize self-help measures to adjust to individual levels of motivation, abilities, and resources.
If you recognize these issues, one avenue for change is through more responsive university policies. It is time to advance concrete proposals for employee support across all campus units. One way to start is to contact your University Senate representative.
The ADVANCE Weekly Roundup is brought to you by ADVANCE at Michigan Tech, which is an NSF-funded initiative dedicated to improving faculty career success, retention, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Contact us to learn more about this week’s topic, our mission, programming efforts, and to check out our growing collection of resources. (firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.mtu.edu/advance).