Tuesday, December 18, 2018

FAST Fund: An Update

We Believe in Students

AFT Local 1904's FAST Fund has received a great deal of interest this semester. As many of you know, the funding for this academic year is seed funding, and is capped at $5,000 per semester. As such, the Local has been judicious in making grants to students. 

To date, a total of eight students--seven undergraduate students and one graduate student--have received almost $4,200 in assistance. Their emergency financial needs have included materials for classes that they had no other way to afford, car repairs, medical bills in collections, tuition assistance, rental assistance, and funds for teacher certification fees.

As one student wrote to us: 
"Because of [the FAST Fund], I was able to cover my rent and have one less thing to stress about. . . . As you know so many things can come up for a student during the course of the semester and having this resource and safety net available can make such a difference. . . . thank you so much for your help." 

A student who received tuition assistance wrote: 
"This is a huge, positive step in the right direction and I feel very hopeful now."
We would like to be able to do more through our FAST Fund. In order to do so, we need your help. We are asking all members to consider making a tax-deductible contribution to the Local's FAST Fund. Find out how you can donate to AFT Local 1904's FAST Fund so we can continue this important work beyond this academic year. 
For more information about the Local's FAST Fund, please contact jennifer.higgins@aftlocal1904.org.

Professional Staff Holiday Party a Great Success!


Last Thursday, December 13th, 2018, the first annual celebration was held for professional staff members of AFT local 1904. Staff left their desks at 3:00pm to gather at the Alexus Steakhouse on Valley road for the first ever off-campus get together. It was a pleasure to spend time together in a festive atmosphere, as we acknowledged the importance of professional staff and the solidarity our Local Union brings to Montclair State University. Many thanks to all who could make it and to all who helped in pulling this together--and special thanks to the Alexus staff, who were fabulous hosts.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

FAST Fund Update

AFT Local 1904’s FAST Fund has received a great deal of interest this semester. As the fund has limited resources, $5,000 per semester, the Local has been judicious in making grants to students. To date a total of four students – three undergraduate students and one graduate student – have received approximately $2,100 in assistance. Their emergency financial needs have included materials for classes that he/she had no other way to afford, car repairs, medical bills in collections, and rental assistance.

AFT Local 1904 would like to thank the Dean of Students, Margaree Coleman-Carter and Director of Financial Aid, Jim Anderson, for working with us to ensure that the students we assist have a financial need and receive all the wrap around services that they need to complete their degree at Montclair State.

We would like to be able to do more and to continue to provide support through our FAST Fund beyond this academic year. In order to do so, we need your help. We are asking all members to consider contributing to the Local’s FAST Fund. Donations are tax-deductible. Click here to find out how you can make a tax-deductible donation to AFT Local 1904’s FAST Fund. In advance, we thank you for your support of this important work that benefits our students above and beyond what you already do every day.

For more information about the Local’s FAST Fund, please contact jennifer.higgins@aftlocal1904.org.

Friday, November 16, 2018

University's Response to Thursday's Weather

Yesterday, the first snowstorm of the season paralyzed the state with virtually impassible road conditions surrounding the University, leaving many members of the community trapped on campus, for hours--stuck in the garages, on-campus roadways, and surrounding roads (such as Normal Ave.). The storm was fast-moving, and no one expected it to be as debilitating as it turned out to be.

During the event, however, there was no clearly coordinated leadership from the University administration and no one was seemingly in charge and watching what was happening in real time on campus. Communication to students and staff was limited to sporadic "push" notifications, with no opportunities for members of the community to report on the problems they were experiencing. Inconsistent messaging to staff across units, with ambiguous meaning, such as being instructed to "leave if uncomfortable," added to the general sense of confusion and chaos. 

In the midst of the event, Food Services in the Student Center, Red Hawk Diner, and Cafe Diem closed, with people utilizing those services left with nowhere to go. Some limited relief was provided later when some of the facilities re-opened, and the Kasser Theatre did provide a free performance and coffee, but there was no general announcement about that. Police presence to help direct vehicular and pedestrian traffic was also scarce. And reports indicate that Dr. Cole's office closed early, and her staff dismissed.

Again, while the severity of the storm was unanticipated, the University was clearly unprepared for the resulting emergency. This is unacceptable, and our community deserves better. The Local's leadership was in contact with the administration during the afternoon and early evening and we believe that it was our diligence that prompted further announcements and the re-opening/extending of vital, campus services. However, follow-up by our Officers is only part of what is needed. We therefore encourage you to provide feedback on your experience of this event via Twitter to  @AFTLocal1904 and/or @MontclairProbs, or post to the Local1904 FaceBook feedYou can also tag@MontclairStateU in Twitter. Or, if you are so inclined, send an email directly to Dr. Cole. 

Snow emergency issues are not new at Montclair State, but it's time for the University to step up, and to put our students and employees first when making decisions around situations like yesterday's. It is only through conveying our stories to the Administration--stories that could have been averted with an early, unambiguous closing and consistent messaging--that this will this ever change.

In Solidarity,
AFT Local 1904