Full-time non-tenure-line faculty will be eligible for expanded parental leave, effective immediately, Georgetown University announced Thursday night.
The announcement comes after petitions from both faculty and students supporting the measure. Last month, 282 individuals signed a petition for equal parental leave for both tenured and full-time non-tenure-line faculty.
Before the university expanded leave, tenure-line faculty members were entitled to paid semesterlong maternal and paternal leave, while full-time non-tenure-line faculty members were entitled to eight weeks of paid maternity leave under a “short-term disability” classification.
“I am pleased to report that effective immediately Full Time Non-tenure Line Faculty (FTNTL) on the Main Campus who will be the primary caregiver of a child (who is in the first year of life or newly homed child of five or younger) will be eligible for New Parent Leave,” Provost Robert Groves wrote in an email to the faculty Thursday afternoon.
More details about the policy expansion are set to be released in the coming days, according to Groves.
Professor Astrid Weigert, chair of the Joint Main Campus Committee on Full-Time Non-Tenure Line Issues, delivered the petition to University Vice President and Chief of Staff Joseph Ferrara on Oct. 12. The committee requested that the “issue be resolved” by the end of the semester, according to Weigert.
Student activism followed the faculty petition: Representatives from the Georgetown University Student Association, Georgetown Solidarity Committee, the Academic Councils of all four of Georgetown’s undergraduate schools and H*yas for Choice delivered a resolution to Ferrara in support of expanded parental leave for full-time non-tenure-line faculty members Thursday morning.
A university announcement came less than a day later.
Weigert anticipated that the GUSA resolution and other student support would exert more pressure on the university to respond to the petition delivered to Ferrara last month.
“I was very, very grateful that it was not just GUSA and that GUSA’s involvement and support created more support from other student groups,” Weigert said.
GUSA senate Vice Speaker Patrick Walsh (SFS ’21) and senator Logan Arkema (COL ’20) introduced a resolution to the senate in support of the faculty’s petition.
“We stood in solidarity with those advocating for non-tenure-line issues, especially Dr. Weigert, and this victory is a remarkable one,” Walsh said in an interview with The Hoya.
The parental leave discrepancy has been raised at the faculty town hall meeting each of the past four years and faculty senate meetings before the Benefits Advisory Committee, which advises on university employee benefit plans, drafted a petition.
“Every time, we got the reply, ‘We are working on it,’ but nothing happened,” Weigert said. “We needed to show that there is really a very strong support for this petition among faculty.”
Full-time tenure-line faculty’s responsibilities include teaching, research and university service, while non-tenure-line faculty’s responsibilities include teaching and research, and sometimes service, according to the Faculty Handbook. Before these distinctions were defined in 2001, non-tenure-line faculty members were considered “visiting” professors.
Though student activism played its part in Thursday’s announcement, Walsh said the efforts to push for equal parental leave have been in the works for longer than many current students may immediately understand.
“While the resolution and student activism provided more pressure for the University to rectify this policy, we cannot forget the faculty and student voices that have been working on parental leave equity for the last few years,” Walsh wrote in an email to The Hoya, after the university’s Thursday announcement.
The GUSA resolution called for the expansion of the current tenure-line parental leave policy to apply to all full-time non-tenure-line faculty regardless of gender or “instances of adoption.” The resolution was unanimously approved by the GUSA senate Nov. 4.
When full-time non-tenure-line faculty members were limited to eight weeks of maternity leave, the disparity forced students to adjust to a replacement faculty member midsemester, according to College Academic Council Vice President Casey Doherty (COL ’20).
The practice of eight-weeklong parental leave for full-time non-tenure-line faculty was “not conducive to the academic environment,” Doherty wrote in an email to The Hoya.
The resolution’s success shows the benefits of student-faculty collaboration, according to a Georgetown Solidarity Committee spokesperson.
“This campaign has demonstrated how one of the most effective ways to create change at Georgetown is when students and workers unite in solidarity with one another,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hoya.