Campus Reform | 'I broke down and sobbed': Profs lose it over UF attempt to make them show up for work

'I broke down and sobbed': Profs lose it over UF attempt to make them show up for work

As it encourages more students to return to campus, the University of Florida implemented a feature to allow students to report when professors teach remotely classes they were scheduled to teach in-person.

Some professors are not happy with the development.

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The University of Florida implemented a new feature that allows students to alert the school when professors assigned to in-person classes are teaching online instead.

Professors on Twitter have expressed outrage at this accountability mechanism, prompting the university to eventually cave to some of their demands. 

In a Jan. 11 memo, Vice President for Student affairs D’Andra Mull asked students to report “[i]f there are any inconsistencies with course delivery for your face-to-face or online courses, such as not being provided the opportunity to meet in person for your face-to-face class...UF staff will review every concern and follow up as appropriate.”

That statement was met with swift backlash from professors. 

"Students can report instructors not in person via the gators safe app," UF Psychology Professor Lisa Scott tweeted. "They added a button just for this purpose. I'm more than a little disturbed by this." 

She then urged UF to "do better," reminding the school that "we've been working our asses off for you through all of this." 

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UF Biology Professor Norman Douglas tweeted in response to Scott, “turns out something that was legal is something we could be ratted out anonymously for?”

Professor Amy Mobley complained about the supposed "irony" of an app called Gator Safe, writing “how is reporting a faculty member teaching online instead of in person keeping someone safe???” 

Lecturer Melissa Meadows said she “broke down and sobbed” after becoming aware of the app feature. Meadows said it was the "first time during this pandemic," that she has done so." 

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Professor Hannah Bayne tweeted that the app's features have pitted faculty and students “against each other.” She said she is curious to see the effects this will have “on employee morale and faculty/admin relations.” 

"There were LARGE masses of unmasked students everywhere. Everywhere....and @UF is more concerned about policing us, added Professor Jason Smith

UF Spokesperson Hessy Fernandez told Campus Reform that the university's first commitment is “to our students: to provide instruction in the format they requested, whether in person or online. If students aren’t getting the course in that manner, they need a vehicle to report that.”

He added that many thousands of students chose in person class and “when a faculty member fails to provide that in-person instruction, they have violated the trust and agreement between the student and the university.”

Fernandez also stated the university was aware of some faculty complaints but assured Campus Reform that UF is following the guidance of the CDC and UF health experts. 

Furthermore, the University has implemented “significantly increased testing, social distancing, mandatory face coverings and daily classroom cleaning," she added. 

In response to the backlash, however, the university removed the specific ability for students to report professors, though students can still report a professor who doesn't show up for work by writing in their complaint. 

Young Americans for Freedom President Philip Smith told Campus Reform that at UF, "masks are mandatory anywhere on campus, minimum six-foot social distancing is enforced, and classrooms have been changed to accommodate in-person classes. All of this is not enough for UF faculty to be comfortable going back to work. 

"It's obvious that the students' education is far from their first priority," Smith added. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @ajmunguia23