With most of us back on campus this fall—whether in Camden, Newark, or New Brunswick—it is clear that one feature of learning, teaching, and working at Rutgers did not change while we were gone: workspaces for faculty and students alike are in a horrible state.
This is not the fault of the hardworking facilities crews at Rutgers. Rather than having maintenance workers make crucial repairs during the pandemic, when buildings were mainly unoccupied, management instead laid off already chronically understaffed and overextended facilities workers.
Responsibility for our shoddy workspaces and buildings falls squarely on the overpaid shoulders of management. While the athletics program wastes thousands of dollars on laser pointers, $12,000-plus nap machines, and football stadium light shows, the rest of us are forced to live with peeling lead paint, mold outbreaks, and buildings that are literally crumbling.
Though the risk of Covid transmission has been the main concern recently, Rutgers’ ancient HVAC systems, permanently closed windows, and moldy offices and classrooms are a reminder that many buildings at Rutgers had serious health and safety issues long before March 2020. And “worst” can take many forms. Accessibility issues, overcrowded classrooms, and disappearing office spaces for grads and PTLs are also part of the problem.
Enough is enough! The AAUP-AFT union has decided to organize a “Rutgers’ Worst Workspace” contest to shame the university’s administration into action. Here are the rules:
- Take a photo or video of your workspace;
- Write a caption that explains what we are looking at and what is wrong with the picture;
- Post them on Twitter or Instagram, tag our union (@ruaaup on Twitter, @rutgersaaup on Insta), and be sure to include the hashtags #RUtheWorst and #PayRUFacilitiesWorkers.
Once the entries are in, we will be announcing winners in the following categories. Single entries are eligible to win in multiple categories:
- Covid Health and Safety Category
- Student Entry Category
- Faculty Entry Category
- Staff Entry Category
- Camden Category
- New Brunswick/Piscataway Category
- Newark Category
We’ll also be running a Best Caption contest to reward the most creative commentary. Bonus points for captions that find ways to invoke the “beloved community” in relation to management’s failure to create decent workspaces.
While we’re worried about what you might show us, we nonetheless look forward to your submissions! Please be sure to submit your entries by Friday, December 3. Winners will be announced on Friday, December 10! Prizes to include union merch! If you have any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re not on Twitter or Instagram and want to compete in the contest, or wish to submit but remain anonymous, entries can also be sent to email@example.com.
Andy and Danyel
Andrew Urban, New Brunswick Chapter Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Danyel Ferrari, Media and Narrative Committee Co-chair, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
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