The Phoenix Flyer

Broward College counselors may lose their jobs and livelihoods

By: - April 27, 2020 5:14 pm

Broward College, Fort Lauderdale. Credit: Broward College.

Broward College’s Board of Trustees is considering Tuesday whether to eliminate all 14 full-time faculty counselors at the community college in Fort Lauderdale.

The move is being described as a “reduction in force” proposal that would mean an “elimination of the faculty counselor job classification.”

The salaries and benefits of the 14 counselors add up to about $1.5 million, according to the board of trustees documents.

The documents also ask, “How does this impact student success?” And the answer is: “Resources can be reallocated to support student success.”

The board meets at 1 p.m. Tuesday in an electronic-media assisted meeting.

If the board votes “yes,” the counselors who provide services to students and staff will lose their jobs and livelihood amid the coronavirus pandemic, critics say.

“I am still at a loss how a great institution like Broward College would abruptly disengage the professionals most equipped to help students at this critical time when they are seeking comfort, direction, and answers,” Dr. Oluyinka Tella, a 16-year counselor, said in a written statement.

“We have been the caring faces of the college that generations of students have known for the past 15 to 28 years.”

The Broward chapter of United Faculty of Florida, which represents full-time faculty at colleges across the state, is imploring “the Board of Trustees to do what is in the best interests” of their students and community and keep their counselors, according to the chapter’s news release.

UFF’s Broward College Chapter President Teresa M. Hodge said in a written statement in the release:

“In the true spirit of shared governance, the administration could have invited UFF to be a part of their deliberations before this RIF decision was made. But they did not. So, it is our hope that the Board will vote this Reduction in Force proposal down and avoid substantiating an executive decision that did not have the benefit of any input or feedback from UFF. Allow UFF and the administration to sit down and discuss what is truly best for all stakeholders at this institution.”

The organization said in a press release Monday that counselors bring an array of expertise to students, staff and administration such as psychotherapy, suicide prevention, immigration support, grant writing, community engagement and more.

According to a 2018 annual report, Broward College serves over 63,000 students and employs nearly 5,000 faculty and staff.

Gladys Sanchez-Bello, another Broward College counselor who works with international students, said, “These students deal with cross cultural shock and the majority of them are by themselves here in [the] U.S. We were providing support to them more now within the pandemic.”

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.