Let’s take him at his word.
UF President Kant “No Authority” Fuchs is powerless to protect his faculty in this age of pandemic. He’s said so time and again.
“Unfortunately, we do not read the State University System policymaking environment the way you describe in your letter,” Fuchs wrote most recently after rejecting Alachua County’s request to comply with a countywide order requiring masks.
Kant Fuchs can’t. To put it bluntly.
Ditto for Santa Fe President Paul Broadie. No authority. So sorry.
Which raises a crucial question regarding the health, safety and welfare of UF and Santa Fe faculty: If presidents Kant Fuchs and Paul Broadie are powerless to protect them against students who refuse to wear masks, let alone be vaccinated, who can?
The answer is obvious.
The faculty must protect themselves.
If you teach at the University of Florida or Santa Fe College, and you walk into your classroom to find one or more students who refuse to cover up, why not simply turn around and walk out?
And then cite academic freedom in your defense.
Because if an educator must be expose to a potentially deadly disease in order to practice his or her calling, than academic freedom is a joke.
Academic freedom used to mean something in the academy. But not so much since politicians seized control of public higher education and began to install a breed of corporate “Kant” presidents who care more about the status and prestige of their offices than the very academy itself.
But here’s the thing.
What would President Kant do if just one faculty member refused to teach under circumstances that put his or her academic freedom at risk?
Would he fire the recalcitrant prof? Maybe. Especially if the guilty party is an adjunct or grad student and, by definition, disposable.
But what if 10 faculty members so decline? What if 20, or 50 or 100 faculty say “No we won’t”?
If that happens, then no doubt Gov. “Death” DeSantis would get his Education Tsar to withhold their salaries, as he did when our school board members and superintendent refused to risk the lives of their teachers in deference to someone’s “freedom” to infect others.
But what is President Kant willing to do in the service of Gov. Death?
Fire the “offenders”? Doubtful.
And, listen, that sort of faculty defiance is already happening on other university and college campuses around the nation according to USA Today.
“It’s a big game of chicken,. They expect we’re going to back down eventually. I don’t know where it’s going, frankly. The hope is that we can embarrass them to the point that they’ll change their mind.”
This from University of Georgia math professor Joseph Fu, who is requiring his students to mask up in despite UGA dictates to the contrary.
“Across the country, frustrated college faculty are reaching a breaking point, furious about being forced to teach in person on campuses where COVID regulations are non-existent or barely enforced,” USA Today reports. “One professor walked out of class, quitting on the spot.”
This in reference to another UGA professor, 88-year old Irwin Bernstein, who decided that life was too short to play academic Russian Roulette with a student who couldn’t be bothered to properly cover her face.
So take President Kant at his word. He simply has no authority. So sorry.
Which leaves faculty to exercise their academic freedom to protect themselves.
Because if academic freedom doesn’t mean the freedom to teach without being exposed to a potentially deadly disease, then what could it possibly mean?
Faculty have nothing to lose, save perhaps their tenure. Better that then their lives.
And face it. President Kant can’t, or won’t, stand up for his faculty.