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Anthropology Dept calls on Admin to take 2 weeks online & get its act together

Thanks to an anonymous reader for forwarding. Please let me know if your department is considering similar action:

Statement from Faculty of Department of Anthropology

January 7, 2022

As a department we want to support our students in the best and fullest way possible. There are many different situations in each of our classrooms that change constantly. We want to take our classes remote for a two-week period and we will reassess. We cannot teach our classes in three different modes, serve as therapists for our students, and handle high levels of caretaking at home. We urge the administration to make one clear policy and take classes online for a specific period of time. We further urge the administration to give department heads the ability to work with their faculty to determine the best situation for their classes.  Thank you for your consideration. 

Sent on behalf of UO Anthropology Faculty


  1. Dorothy 01/09/2022

    Way too reasonable and self-evident. One clear policy–yes. No more chaos and waiting and interpreting. Let’s go home and teach. We know how to do this. Let the surge pass. Follow what others have done. Come back to our classes when things clear. Yes, I would rather be teaching in person. I loved that first week. But conditions are not right for it. They will likely be right in just a few weeks. Let’s follow the other schools.

    • uomatters Post author | 01/09/2022

      It would require JH taking responsibility and admitting they made a mistake. That won’t happen, so they’ll need a convenient scapegoat. Any suggestions?

      • honest Uncle Bernie 01/09/2022

        They don’t need to admit they made a mistake. Just say that conditions have changed — they have — and that they are responding appropriately — even masterfully, if that will make them feel better. It would make me feel better, I actually don’t fault them — too much — yet. In fact, the worst thing they’ve done, in my opinion, is put out that wretched email last week, the one full of gibberish and ton-deafness. And I am getting the willies about the rising staff infection rate. They could use some lessons from Dr. Fauci. He is not perfect, but most everything he says is pitched in a way that he can pivot later, and point to how he had foreseen the possibility.

  2. honest Uncle Bernie 01/09/2022

    “As a department we want to support our students in the best and fullest way possible.”

    I would prefer “our students, faculty, and staff.” There’s nothing wrong with taking the welfare of all three into consideration.

  3. Silenus 01/09/2022

    Again, I have to ask: Where the heck is the Union? Why isn’t the Union putting pressure on the administration to do what’s right for its membership? Is the Union leadership so conflicted that it can’t act? At the very least, the Union should survey faculty opinion and advocate for workplace safety. The ham-fisted non-solution offered by the Provost will only make matters worse across campus.

  4. New Year Cat 01/09/2022

    Is SEIU paying any attention either? The unions should be working together on this!

    • Still Classified 01/10/2022

      I’ve been wondering about that. SEIU sure has been mute on this.

      • Compulsory Pessimist 01/10/2022

        The next SEIU meeting is Wednesday via Zoom. With luck something will be announced (but I wouldn’t count on more than platitudes).

        • New Year Cat 01/10/2022

          Does not seem to be on their agenda at all.

  5. Electric Dick 01/10/2022

    Really wish the Composition department would stop trying to play the “appease the overlords” game and put some firm stances out.

  6. Craig O'ThePlague 01/10/2022

    Pah! What do anthropologists know about human behavior and public health?

    • anon and on and on 01/10/2022

      I think their data’s been unreliable at least since they started the reconstruction that’s tearing up that side of Hilyard, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they have really have zero ICU beds in operation at present and a smaller number of inpatient beds in general.

  7. Burt 01/10/2022

    We need some clarity and simplicity for the short run. The communication is near chaos. We do not need the Academic Council stirring up trouble again. We do not need long, rambling communiques. We do not need obsolete department rules forcing people to stay in offices to which students almost never come. That’s just insane. All my students would rather use zoom for office hours under these circumstances. Many undergrads would rather hang around outside after class and talk with me. I understand that. I would, too. It’s an easy accommodation. For the short run we need the most effective zoom weeks possible. We should return to classes when the surge retreats because it’s what students signed up for and are paying for.

    • honest Uncle Gangsta 01/10/2022

      amen, bro! cases up 40-60 fold over two weeks ago. (staff numbers nit yet out). A zoom professor is better than a no-show. Time for some action, from the faculty if the admin doesn’t get it together very fast.

  8. thedude 01/10/2022

    I think it’s plenty clear. If you want to go zoom, you send an email and it’s approved for at least the next two weeks (IMHE predicts infections will spike this weekend but really its anybody’s guess). If you don’t you can stay in person but must try accommodate students if they have to quarantine. I ask my Phd students if they want to stay in person and they were unanimous that yes they do want to stay in person. So that’s my plan until I test positive or become symptomatic.

    • Time To Run 01/10/2022

      Thedude – you’re saying you’ll work in person until you catch COVID?


      Though, I suppose, that is exactly what admin wants us all to do. Keep at it on campus until every (but admins safely tucked away) get COVID.


      • thedude 01/11/2022

        Yes. But I have no reason to think I’m going to get out this wave without catching it (even though I’m boosted), and I have no reason to I’m more likely to get it teaching vs going to the grocery store.

      • thedude 01/11/2022

        So let me get this clear.

        You think that you won’t get Covid? Given this disease is endemic, and has a huge animal and human reservoir of hosts, and given Omicron multiplies in the upper respiratory tract (where our immune system is less effective ergo the ongoing presence of the common cold despite our repeated exposure to it), there is likely no state of the world where you don’t get Omicron/Covid.
        Indeed if I got it from a classroom, that might be better than getting it from one of my kids because I’d be further away wearing a mask and my students would be doing the same which should reduce viral load and create even milder disease.

        Talk to some biologist friends. Make peace with it. Or hunker down, and probably get it anyways.

        • Bummer 01/11/2022

          You’d prefer to get a lower viral load from your students, to then share with your kids, than for them to get a lower viral load from their classmates that they then share with you.

        • Atlante 01/11/2022

          thedude is right. It is nuts to think you won’t get Covid, given what case numbers are like. The great thing about being vaxxed is that cases don’t in general lead to severe illness. You don’t need to live in fear, or at least not more than the usual fear from the usual risks. (Hwy 126 can still be terrifying.) My class has tons of students staying home with Covid, with pretty mild symptoms. The options now are to get on with life, or to decide that we’ll never have in person classes again, ever. It’s an endemic disease, and one we have a good vaccine for. Covid is worse than the flu, but Covid + vaccination is not.

          • just different 01/11/2022

            I’ll say this again for what feels like the millionth time:

            More mitigation means less community spread.

            More mitigation means less community spread.

            More mitigation means less community spread.

            More mitigation means less community spread.

            More mitigation means less community spread.


            It’s not just about you, your assessment of your personal risk, or whether you “live in fear.” More mitigation means less community spread, which protects vulnerable people as well as our healthcare system. Covid is still killing over a thousand people a day.

            • thedude 01/11/2022

              When mitigation ends, more community spread again.

              More mitigation means at best delayed community spread.

              Right now 8,000 cases a day means roughly 24,000-30,000 infections a day, and spread is continuing to increase. This is as contagious as measles with natural immunity or vaccination to prevent spread and it’s airborn. Do the math.

              In roughly 1 month, we all get infected.

              • just different 01/11/2022

                You have no clue how to “do the math.” The people who do are advocating mitigation and not “screw it, we’re all getting covid anyway.” Delaying the spread matters.


                I don’t know what your field is, but I’ll guess you would find it pretty galling if some armchair expert on a blog comment thread thought their opinions on your field were worth more than yours.

            • cruel irony duck 01/11/2022

              Not sure what to say to this. If you’re thoroughly convinced, though, you should put yourself in isolation and remain there for the duration. You _will_ catch omicron if you go out. And you _will_ spread it, whether you are vaccinated or not. (At best, the vaccination has a limited effect on omicron spread, and for a limited time. Details unclear.)

              On top of that, it’s continuing to look like the side-effects of mitigation might be worse than the disease itself.

              Personally, I’m triple-vax’ed and go out only rarely, always using a real mask–not the ones most people use. But I’m under no illusions. I’m going to catch omicron–it’s only a matter of time.

          • Compulsory Pessimist 01/12/2022

            Atlante, people who say “you don’t need to live in fear” about COVID tend to ignore a certain fact: A significant number of people – even those who have *asymptomatic* infections – end up with long-term or permanent physical damage that makes them more susceptible to future infections, or which may trigger post-viral syndrome, or simply develop danger-in-waiting issues like microvascular impairment.
            So even with COVID + vaccination + booster, we are talking about somewhere between 16% to 43% of anyone who gets infected will have a shortened lifespan and/or significant health problems not too far down the road. And of course as others have noted, stopping the spread also helps reduce the possible incubation of new mutations.
            It’s perfectly reasonable to “live in fear” of a pandemic that has upended the entire world for years now, which has long-term repercussions for all survivors regardless of severity, and which many people in our community are being cavalier about.

  9. thedude 01/11/2022

    “Might be”

    Should I be altruistic and get it from them, or be altruistic, and minimize my risk given I’m at greater risk for them and their chief source of income (though they’ll get a nice life insurance pay day if I bite the dust).

    Either way I’m being altruistic or selfish depending on the perspective.

  10. Dog 01/12/2022

    Speaking of math, I wonder if anyone yet has done the calculation, not an easy one, if the current rate of reported UO cases exceeds the expectation of what would have occurred in a 100% fully vaxxed UO community.

    • Unexcellent 01/13/2022

      Under what assumptions? Calculation is meaningless since there are no good estimates of relevant parameters, e.g reproductive number of omicron, vaccine effectiveness against omicron (under different levels of vaccination, different kinds of vaccination) etc

      No way to answer that question given the error surrounding all these estimates.

      My class has 30-40 percent symptomatic rate, if the hourly stream of student emails I get are to be believed. “My girlfriend might have been exposed, I’m staying home, what did I miss and can you recap the class for me now? And are the classes on Zoom?” Answers of course are all on Canvas.

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