Faculty preparedness "encouraged" but not required

BY HANNAH BROADBENT | The Statesman Training sessions are provided for faculty and staff at UMD on topics like Shelter-in-Place, sexual assault and diversity.

But professor’s don’t have to go to any of them.

That’s what emails are for, faculty agrees.

The common reason given for why training sessions are not mandatory is the belief that professors and students should have common sense--there is already plenty of communication on new policies or procedures, emails, brochures, videos etc.

“We can’t plan for every situation, we don’t how we would react,” United Educators Association (UEA) President-Elect Rudy Perrault said.

There is a big push for professors to report anything that is happening to students, Perrault said. For some issues like sexual assault, professors are mandated to report under the Clery Act.

“I suppose some sort of training would be good to have the students and the faculty aware of the (different) situations,” Perrault said, aware of the fact that some professors do not look at the relevant emails and do not go to the trainings offered.

If students decided to take action toward the mandating of these training sessions, Perrault thinks administration would take a look at it.

“There is a big segment that would be preaching to the choir,” Perrault said. “So many of my colleagues believe in (trainings) to protect the students.”

It can be hard to reach the people that don’t believe in trainings.. It can be hard to identify who your audience is as well, according to Perrault.

“Do you put out a blanket statement? Call for proposals?” Perrault said. “We don’t have a perfect system, and there is no perfect system.”

Melissa Honkola, the director of the Office of Human Resources and Equal Opportunity, believes that there are number of things that can happen. Deans and department chairs should have a sense of what has happened and can create expectations for people to participate in various activities.

The Office of Human Resources, based out of the Twin Cities, organizes most system-wide training, like leadership and supervision training.

Local entities at UMD organize smaller trainings. The UMDPD organizes active threat trainings, while UMD Student Life organized the sexaul assault trainings for the months of October and November.

Perrault said the union can only handle situations having to do with professor contracts. There could be a question of making training sessions part of the contract or otherwise relating them to the contract. That would be the only way to make trainings mandatory through the UEA.

Special committees do have some mandatory training sessions. For example, hiring committees have to go through diversity training and must learn the best ways to ask questions.

Honkola said there is a lot of decentralization in terms of what training is even offered. This gives the opportunity for each unit to determine what their group of employees really need.

“There is also the standpoint of wanting training to be effective,” Honkola said.

For that reason, UMD takes the approach of making a lot of different trainings available. Each unit makes it known that training is highly encouraged.

Honkola remembers an experience she had at a mandatory training session while working for Lake County. An employee blantaly disregarded and ignored the presentation. He said to her, “You can make me be here, but you can’t make me watch.”

She said that UMD’s highly trained faculty is always strongly encouraged to attend. But they respect that faculty needs to decide where they are going to spend their time. Especially since most of the faculty on campus is in the classroom.

“A lot of training for faculty is specific for their position,” Honkola said.

Time and resources are heavily weighed when determining what different training sessions will take place.

Honkola doesn’t believe that mandatory training is the most effective way to deliver information.

“You can create resistance where resistance wouldn’t be if you just encourage the training and make it available,” Honkola said. “I also try to thinking about the learning environments for everyone else.”

Mandatory training brings feelings of resistance in Honkola’s eyes, though that percentage may be small. She believes that people use good judgment and that people will attend trainings that are relevant to them.


LTTE: RSOP is working to be women-inclusive

Restoring history: Duluth’s Historic Bed and Breakfasts