Florida College Counselors Terminated, Students Left in Limbo

lonely studentWith no warning to college students or college, this spring Broward College terminated the roles of 14 college counselors, aiming to switch 250 years of collective expertise with lower-paid, less-experienced, non-unionized “advisors,” and leaving tens of 1000’s of scholars in limbo as they search for steering round a return to campus this fall.

The counselors estimate about $300,000 can be saved by their termination—lower than the annual wage of the faculty president, or about one-tenth of 1 p.c of the faculty’s 2016 working price range.

With that in thoughts, counselors imagine the true aim of their terminations is to weaken the voice of skilled college on campus and cut back their union’s energy. Since the terminations nonetheless, the United Faculty of Florida-Broward College chapter has collected practically 4,000 signatures on a petition asking for the immediate reinstatement of the counselors and introduced plans final week to file a cost of unfair labor observe (ULP) with the state’s Public Employees Relations Commission.

“The true cost is not financial. The true cost is the reduction of quality of service to the 67,000 Broward College students who rely on the expertise of faculty counselors,” stated Robert Bullard, a counselor who’s in his 29th 12 months on the school. “To me, I think you want to make every decision at Broward College on what’s best for students. In this case we don’t think that’s what happened.”

To help the advisors, join UFF-Broward in signing the petition.

Meet the Broward Counselors

Counselor Denise Rodriguez, who has labored for the faculty since 1993 and has two grasp’s levels, a Ph.D., and is a state-certified mental-health counselor, was assembly with an anxious pupil at 3:15 pm, Wednesday, April 15, when she was referred to as into an unscheduled assembly with directors and the faculty’s counseling employees. She instructed the coed she would name her again when the assembly ended.

She didn’t. She couldn’t. “We were informed we were no longer employees, and our access to students was immediately terminated,” Rodriguez stated.

Broward College college counselors, who had been abruptly let go this spring, are frightened about how their college students are accessing mental-health companies and different counseling, they just lately instructed reporters. (L-R): Dr. Yinka Tella, Dr. Denise Rodriguez, Robert Bullard.

But, for the previous two months, college students nonetheless have continued to achieve out to their counselors, asking for steering on transferring to Florida’s state universities or returning to campus this fall. Colleagues from different Broward College departments additionally proceed to name. With their many a long time of expertise on campus, starting from 14 to 29 years per college counselor, the advisors have been a priceless useful resource.

The new advisors will want a few years to know Broward County’s “many complicated systems, policies and nuances,” stated Bullard. In the meantime, college students will undergo the shortage of their help.

Thousands have misplaced contact with the advisors who’re accustomed to their wants and points, and have the experience to help them, stated Yinka Tella, a counselor who has labored on the school since 2004 and holds a doctoral diploma in larger schooling.

“When the college says ‘BC Cares,’ each of us has been the face of the college for our students for 15 to 30 years. Individually, we have assisted students as they work through issues of academic efficacy, identity confusion, resource constraints and emotional turmoil,” stated Tella. Recently, because the campus bodily shut its doorways this spring, they helped college students “to make sense of the chaos around them.”

And not solely are they skilled, however the counselors are racially various — 11 of the 14 are folks of shade, factors out UFF-Broward College President Teresa Hodge. “At this moment in history, our institutions need more inclusivity, not less,” she stated.

Next Steps for Supporters

Florida State Representative Joe Geller, who represents a lot of south Broward County, agrees with the advisors. “This is not what the students need. It’s not what the college needs,” stated Geller. If price range cuts must be made, he prompt, “the cuts made shouldn’t go so directly to the core mission of the institution, which is the students. They shouldn’t be suffering, like we’ve seen today.”

“Students require counseling. Simply saying that we’re going to have it down by people with less background, less training, and who can do it cheaper — and coincidentally happen not to be union members — is not the answer,” stated Geller, who urged school directors to fulfill with union leaders.

Broward College pupil Rivkah Moshe.

The “reduction in force” already has been authorized by the faculty’s short-handed Board of Trustees (BOT), which has simply three members at the moment. (Two voted to terminate the advisors.) But many supporters, together with college students, plan to return to the BOT to ask them to rehire the advisors instantly.

They embrace Rivkah Moshe, a Broward College pupil who graduated on June 6 and can be transferring to Boston University to finish a bachelor’s diploma in physics. Her success as a pupil, she says, is due partially to Broward’s Women in STEM mission, which was designed and coordinated by Counselor Denise Rodriguez.

“The Women in STEM project is the community that has impacted me the most. I mentored mentees, as well as trained new mentors, and worked closely with the faculty creator, Dr. Rodriguez,” stated Moshe. Even through the pandemic, this system has flourished due to Rodriguez, she stated. “In a fragile time, Dr. Rodriguez kept us strong. With her experience as a faculty counselor, like any faculty counselor, she is equipped with both emotional intelligence and institutional knowledge of Broward College.”

Since Rodriguez’ termination, the mission has stopped. “I was asked by the other mentees what had happened, and what could we do,” stated Moshe, who sobbed by a current press convention concerning the terminations.

“We’re helpless. And left to our own devices… More than ever, we need our faculty counselors and we need our Women in STEM program. We need Dr. Rodriguez. We need Dr. Denise Rodriguez back in her office, as soon as possible.”

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