Thanks to my colleague Jacqueline Beaulieu, I have been learning a lot about the unseen workers at universities: tech support and student services. I now smile when I hear someone say “students and professors have moved seamlessly online!” because I know the amount of work that occurred behind the scenes. In late March my university-issued computer died from zoom-related complications (hopefully not contagious!) and I made the trek into campus to get a new one. I was so impressed with Phil, the computer guy, who had social-distance appointments set up for nine hours straight to help people like me “seamlessly transition.”
My students are mainly university and college employees working in student support positions. They have worked fearlessly, often in multiple time zones, to keep their students connected, informed and emotionally sound.
These colleagues ARE the essential workers at universities. There has been no break for them. As universities look toward the fall, with fiscal fears looming, it is important that these essential worker positions are not cut. Because we may mistakenly attempt to save the ship by chopping down the sail. Jacqueline and I wrote about this dilemma in University World News;