The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday May 5th

Faculty Welfare Committee hears updates on employee vaccination efforts

A volunteer fills a syringe with the COVID-19 vaccine at La Semilla's vaccination event, Feb. 20, 2021.
Buy Photos A volunteer fills a syringe with the COVID-19 vaccine at La Semilla's vaccination event, Feb. 20, 2021.

While University faculty and staff working in-person are able to receive the COVID-19 vaccines, many employees are struggling to find open vaccine appointments in the Triangle, said Faculty Welfare Committee Chairperson Muge Gucsavas-Calikoglu at a meeting Monday. 

At the meeting, the committee also discussed a new caregiver task force and the vaccination timeline for University employees.

What’s new?

  • Monday marked the beginning of the University’s week-long virtual wellness event for employees. Gucsavas-Calikoglu said faculty members should take part in the online wellness activities designed to support their overall well-being.
  • Gucsavas-Calikoglu said the committee needs to work with University administration to improve the welfare of faculty.
    • “I think the pandemic in the past year has shown significant gaps in the system,” she said. “I think those are things that future members of the committee will be working for, especially the issues of childcare, equity and fixed-term jobs across the board in collaboration with other groups.”
  • Shu Wen Ng, associate professor in the department of nutrition, said the University's unbalanced budget restricts options for addressing issues like limited faculty caregiver options and job security concerns. 
  • The Faculty Council recently initiated a caregiving task force, which committee members Rhonda Gibson, a journalism professor, and J.D. DeFreese, a clinical assistant exercise and physical science professor, later joined.
    • “The task force has been charged with identifying gaps in resources for caregivers, expanding the definition of caregiver, benchmarking what other universities are doing and then making a recommendation by June to the Faculty Council,” Gibson said.
    • Gibson said revised caregiving measures could be in place by December.
  • Committee members discussed the COVID-19 vaccination timeline for University faculty. 
    • In a message sent to the campus community on March 2, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said that all University instructors and support staff working in-person are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 
    • Despite being eligible, Gucsavas-Calikoglu brought up that many faculty members are experiencing difficulty in finding open vaccination appointments in the Triangle area. 
      • “I just think you have to be aggressive and assertive on your own,” Charlene Regester, an associate professor in the African, African American and Diaspora Studies department, said. 

Who is on the Faculty Welfare Committee?

  • The committee consists of seven active University faculty members, one administrator and two non-voting consultants. Committee members are appointed to the position by the chairperson of the faculty. 
  • According to the Faculty Code, the committee “monitors and works toward the improvement of faculty working conditions, including salaries and benefits.”

What’s next?

  • The Faculty Welfare Committee will convene on April 12 to discuss the COVID-19 relief package. 

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