HR Update November 5th
To keep communication as clear as possible, and archive it for later use, the Office of Human Resources will be sending out updates using this format.
If you have information that you would like to disseminate to all employees, please send that to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will coordinate adding the information to a future HR update.
For now, we would ask that you limit any mass communications to avoid confusion.
President's message on post election dialogs
This message from President Bahls was sent earlier this week to the campus and is repeated here.
Elections are often difficult seasons, but the associated anxiety has been heightened this season in our deeply divided country. For most members of our community, meaning of course our students, this is a first experience. I tried to share some thoughts with them about the events of recent days in a message I sent over the weekend that I’d like you to see as well.
As a community of educators, I hope all of us will be role models to our students in the days ahead. And may the end of this election season, whoever wins, mark the beginning of a time when we can dialog with those whose views differ from our own.
But how do we have dialogs that are effective and might even change minds in time where it is sometimes easier to engage in ad hominem attacks? Dr. Austin Williamson from our psychology department shared an interesting article that informs my thinking on what how to best change people’s minds.
In "Reducing exclusionary attitudes through interpersonal conversation: evidence from three field experiments," by Joshua L. Kalla and David E. Broockman (published in American Political Science Review in May of this year), the authors find that "exclusionary attitudes — prejudice toward outgroups and opposition to policies that promote their well-being — have been implicated in political and social strife..." We see plenty of evidence, but how do we reduce these exclusionary attitudes?
Exclusionary attitudes are not altered by name-calling, seeking to silence or even face-to-face conversations propounding great arguments. Rather, the power of exclusionary attitudes is diminished by "the non-judgmental exchange of narratives as a strategy where an individual attempts to persuade another person by providing to or eliciting from them narratives about relevant personal experiences while non-judgmentally listening to the views they express."
One thing that’s certain is we can hope our students find passions, and that they translate their passion into sustained effort toward building a better world. And when it comes to activism, former President Barack Obama put it far more eloquently than I can (and here, he does so in less than two minutes): Activism can make us feel good, or it can bring about change, though not always at the same time.
As a liberal arts college we are in a perfect position to help our students gain the skills of deep listening and narrative persuasion to carry the day in the marketplace of ideas. When we do, we help our students to Reach Boldly and Shine Brightly.
A personal narrative concerning freedom of expression
Jane and I started high school in 1969 in Des Moines. I was a student at Hoover High School and she at Roosevelt. It was during the activism associated with the war in Vietnam, and the Des Moines school system had informed students that they could not wear black arm bands to protest the war, arguing that the armbands were disruptive to learning.
Jane and I each strongly disagreed with that position. A courageous family from Jane's high school sued the school district over the policy and it went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The 1969 decision of Tinker vs. Des Moines recognized that students wearing black armbands is within their freedom of expression.
Intertwined with freedom of expression is academic freedom. I recall, as a young professor, an administrator informing me that someone from the Farmers Home Administration had called to complain about an article I had written suggesting the FHA was not following the law when terminating farm credit.
The administrator said that he just wanted me to know, which I took as a subtle attempt to interfere with my academic freedom in exposing lender misconduct. Being stubborn, I wrote more; but I felt vulnerable.
These experiences have shaped my deep commitment to freedom of speech and academic freedom.
But at the same time, I have seen the hurt that speech can cause to our students and others. That is why I am proud of Augustana's nuanced approach that cherishes freedom of expression, while at the same time recognizing the hurt that free expression can cause. It is a both/and proposition that should resist any either/or solutions.
Augustana should both protect freedom of expression and support those who are offended by the words expressed. We can both support a person's right to say something, while articulating our strong disagreement with what they say.
Caring for students post-election
Your relationships with students are powerful and make such a difference in their education and lives. We know that there are likely to be a range of reactions to and emotions for us and for our students related to the election whatever the results may be. If you are able, please reach out to students that you have trusting relationships with this week to check in and offer support. In our roles as mentors, we have a powerful opportunity to model and express care, compassion, civility, and humility during a tumultuous time with intentional outreach and listening. Please show extra care to your students, your colleagues, and yourselves this week. You can refer students that you believe might benefit from additional support to the appropriate resource.
Open enrollment - materials now available
The annual open enrollment process begins next Monday, November 9th and must be completed no later than Friday November 20th. This document provides full details on the benefit decisions you will need to make as well as prices for the upcoming year.
Headlines of changes include:
- Premium increase for all health insurance plans of $72 per year or $6 per month for most employees
- Changes to health insurance deductibles and co-pays
- Decrease in dentail premiums
- No changes to vision plan
- Change in flexible spending account providers
Virtual drop in sessions will be available or feel free to email email@example.com with questions or to set up a time to discuss your situation.
Electronic tax forms - press the easy button
With tax season just around the corner we are thinking ahead here in the Payroll Department. Knowing that many may still be working off campus or remotely, it's the perfect time to sign up for electronic tax form delivery. This will allow you to access and print your W-2 and 1095-C earlier than mailed copies and they will be archived for future retrieval as well. Here's how to sign up:
1. Log into Arches
2. Select the Employee tab
3. Select Tax Information
From there you can consent to electronic delivery. If you've already provided this consent, you'll be informed of that as well. This document walks you through the steps as well.
Questions? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Club Ed fundraiser
Club Ed is doing a fundraiser to help students at Longfellow Elementary School get face masks.
We will be in The Brew selling stickers for $1.50 from 11-1pm this Tuesday - Friday, taking both cash and Venmo donations! 100% of money will go towards buying reuseable face masks for students.
Longfellow went to a hybrid learning system in mid October, and as a result of that students are required to have masks for days when they are at school. 70% of students at Longfellow are considered to be "Low Income Students," so Club Ed wants to be able to support all of Longfellow's students, by ensuring they have masks.
Thank you for helping Club Ed support our Rock Island community and Longfellow students!!