As you may know, we are about to go through reductions of 95 of our fellow coworkers. This has been an extremely long and extremely problematic process. Part of the difficulty has been that our contract doesn't explicitly outline reductions (as opposed to complete layoffs) but the other part (and more important one) has shown a larger crack in our systems. I'd like to take this space to share some of the concerns and thoughts expressed to me on a daily basis.
Transparency - when the process began, and still to this day, there are many questions that are still unanswered. These questions have been raised in numerous ways (town hall meetings, board meetings, classified meetings, etc. Yet there is still a cloud of inquiries that have gone unanswered. We should expect more from a public institution. In my opinion, this is about the "why" questions many of our classified staff have been asking. We are told there will be more reorganization but we are not provided with any explanation or information. This does not help in becoming more transparent.
Accountability - In any institution, there must be explanations given as to who is responsible for decisions and why they made those specific decisions. Here again, it seems that the person who originally made the decision to make these reductions should give the reasons for the decision and take responsibility for them. Unfortunately, this individual is no longer at GCC so I'm not sure we will ever have an answer. This is the "who" and "why" questions asked throughout this process with little or no response.
Leadership - Leaders must make tough decisions but their decisions should be made based on data and they should be explained. When there are so many questions about any decision, it becomes clear that while a tough choice was made, there was no data presented that supported that decision. Many staff went to their supervisors and Vice Presidents and presented data about their work but to no avail. According to many, data was simply ignored.
Connection - If I had a penny for each time I heard "...but my supervisor doesn't know what I do..." I would have already been able to retire comfortably! There seems to be disconnectedness among some staff and supervisors that I cannot explain and I don't understand. I hear constant stories of conflict that go unresolved between staff and supervisors for this reason. I think when supervisors have a deeper understanding of the role of their staff, they value the work and contribution of those who report to them. "Supervision" must go beyond, "do what I tell you" which is what I hear constantly.
We must continue to demand and push for a resolution of the above concerns in order to change the process of how decisions are made on campus. This can only come through involvement by us and continued questioning of how we arrive at decisions and offer solutions. It's difficult to analyze something while you are going through it, but it's my hope that we will learn from this process and improve our college-wide systems so staff are not made to suffer in the future and students are served appropriately.
We will celebrate our annual Classified Employees Week this month. I want to thank all of you for your service to our small community and to our students. Regardless of the reductions, you are an important part of this institution. I hope that one day we can realize what has been said by Dr. Riggs many times this past year - that we are all colleagues and equals. While we go through this difficult time, let's keep our focus on helping our students be successful. Thank you for your hard work. It is deeply appreciated.
"No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others. The wise and the confident acknowledge this help with gratitude." -Alfred North Whitehead
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