Faculty members at Heartland Community College (HCC) spent two days last week spreading the word to over 800 students and colleagues about HCC’s plan for a safe return to campus and encouraging vaccinations against the coronavirus. These members of the Heartland Faculty Association (HFA, Local 6038) and Heartland Adjunct Faculty Association (HAFA, Local 6077) were recently awarded a Back-to-School grant from the American Federation of Teachers earmarked for books, supplies, and engagement around COVID-safe policies on campus.
This was the first time the Heartland Faculty Union locals applied for AFT’s Back-to-School grant, and the members who attended the phone bank saw both the immediate value and the long-term advantages of this method of support and outreach.
Physical Therapy professor and HFA member Daryl Menke noted that the calls eased everyone’s anxiety about returning to school buildings: “The conversations I had with students were much needed--they had questions. So many [other higher education institutions] are siloed and communications are forced. Doing this helps perpetuate the idea of community.”
That also resonated with HAFA President & Philosophy instructor Ashli Anda: “In the future, similar activities will strengthen this community. Adjuncts don't always have the opportunity to meet colleagues in person, so it was really nice to meet over the phone and get to know them a bit as we talked about preparations for the fall semester. Doing this work through the union is a way for our members to make a difference for our students and serve the community."
Those making calls and texts informed students and colleagues that, in addition to enhanced cleaning protocols, new filtration systems have been added to buildings, a mask mandate is in effect, and free rapid-saliva testing will be offered to all staff, students, and residents of the greater McLean County area on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. HCC will also host a Back-to-School vaccination clinic August 24-25 to kick off the semester.
Distinguished Professor of Criminal Justice and HAFA member Dewhitt Bingham described the event as an example of the two unions “going the extra mile for their students to make sure they’re safe as they return to Heartland.”
Seven faculty members from the Heartland Faculty Association and the Adjunct Faculty Association phone banking staff and students for a Safe Return to Campus. In attendance (clockwise starting from the foreground): Dana Alaniz, Gina Leffers, Daryl Menke, Zach Petrea, Ashli Anda, Jill Mohr, Dewhitt Bingham.