Editorial, Opinion

EDITORIAL: No revolution to be found in BU’s updated Work from Home policies

A glossy piece by BU Today published a few weeks ago professed how BU’s remote work policy was “Changing Lives.” 

The article covered how many staff members enjoyed their new ability to work remotely two days out of the week — implemented last June.

Below it were multiple comments, many from those who identified themselves as BU staff members, employees and students, commiserating on how little regard the University had for the people that populate it. 

BU Today published this article at a time when most of the BU population does not have the option to work remotely, much less have a livable wage or job security. 

Sophia Flissler / DFP Staff

To be clear, it should not be a luxury to work remotely. The pandemic has shown us that remote work, whenever possible, can help people spend more time with their families and not waste unpaid time on the commute to work.

It is great that some BU employees have the opportunity to spend time with their families. But granting remote work for a select portion of the BU population is nowhere near the solution to BU’s mounting egregious labor and academic conditions. 

BU Today published this PR-driven article during a time when adjunct and full-time non-tenure faculty are fighting for job security. Negotiations have been going on for months and are now at a standstill, with little promise on the horizon.

Last January, former BU lecturer Samuel Shupe published a scathing open letter to BU about how the University fails to pay their lecturers a livable wage. In the letter, he pointed out how BU pays members of their faculty as little as $6,000 per semester-long course, while the University paid $13,000 in security fees to host Ben Shapiro’s speaking event on campus. 

BU Today also published this article at a time when student employees are woefully under-protected. The recently exposed Shiney James scandal — in which student Orientation workers faced verbal abuse and were egregiously overworked — is merely the tip of the iceberg. Student employees alleged their breaks were withheld and their timesheets were forged or modified so the administration could pay them less. 

Student employees could perhaps benefit the most from the remote work outlined in the BU Today article, yet are not under this protection. 

Lastly, this BU Today article comes out at a time when sick BU students have no reliable way to keep up with coursework during a pandemic. We as students cannot work from home if sick. 

Over the last few days, positive COVID-19 cases at Boston University have spiked to the 30s. As much as we hate to acknowledge its presence, the Omicron variant is steadily becoming a concern. 

Does BU have any plans in case we go into another lockdown? Or can they currently only plan for constructing new buildings partially funded by health insurance companies? It is hard to parse which would be a higher priority on the University’s plate. 

Perhaps this editorial sounds overwhelmingly bitter. But this recent BU Today article, and the resigned comments below it, show how BU’s labor protection strategy is more so focused on optics than the health of its workers. 

Throughout the pandemic, it has become increasingly clear how out of touch the administration is. Not only in age, but in shared values. 

Remote work is something everyone should have access to. But instead of focusing all their efforts on writing emphatically bullheaded attempts to spin their lackluster remote work option into a life-changing strategy, BU should focus on protecting their employees and students.

If not for our sake, then at least for the sake of the BU Today reporters. It must be hard to write so much about so little. 

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