When we were approached to write articles for this month’s Chaparral, the theme proposed was DEIA. I’ve been thinking about the “A” for accessibility a lot, but as I was driving home in the two hours of rain-filled traffic hellscape today, I realized the ways the “A” relates to all the letters in DEIA and how this pandemic has created a shift in the way Guild business is conducted that truly encompasses diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.
When the pandemic hit three years ago, we had to configure the way we operate – separated, but not alone. When I took the helm of the Guild in August of 2020, I had no other choice but to conduct our membership meetings online via Zoom. What we discovered is that our Guild was more accessible than ever. Not only were meetings more accessible, but this accessibility created a new sense of inclusivity, the “I”. For the first time, many of our adjunct colleagues could join us to hear how the Guild was going to help us get through these unprecedented times. By having no other choice but to conduct meetings online we were able to reach more of our members like never before. We’ve consistently had 75+ attendees at every regular Guild meeting since Fall 2020.
Not only are meetings more accessible but by conducing our tentative agreement ratification ballots and elections online, it’s easier than ever before to reach every member, making sure they have a voice in the working conditions we negotiate. Voting online has been simple, secure, and foolproof. No more ballots getting lost in the mail or forgetting to sign a paper ballot which would invalidate a vote. This is the very essence of accessibility and inclusivity. Now if I could only get ALL of you to actually vote!
But I digress…
Becoming more accessible and inclusive leads to becoming more equitable and diverse, the “E” and the “D”. The more members who are included in accessible meetings, the more diverse the voices we are able to represent, thus the more equitable we, your Guild leaders, can make our workplace.
As I finish my tenure as your Guild President this semester, I do hope the culture shift we have experienced in the Guild is permanent and that the way Guild business is conducted continues to be truly inclusive and accessible to all who wish or need to seek us out, from on campus and beyond.
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