Betrayed

Hello,

My name is David Greene - a PhD student at the University of Florida, a member of Graduate Assistants United (GAU), and a member of GatorWings. You may have read about GatorWings in the Alligator [1, 2], the Gainesville Sun [3], the United Faculty of Florida news [4], or the Chronicle of Higher Education [5]. We believe that every student, faculty, and staff member that competes in a competition is deserving of the prize earned. The University of Florida doesn't feel the same way…

In fact, the faculty has language in their 2017-19 collective bargaining agreement that allows them to collect any "scholarly or artistic prizes" without notifying the university. That is, until my team won $750K in a government competition and UF quietly published new policy stating, "monetary awards from a prize competition are university property if the faculty members or team use university resources in competing for the prize" [6]. Our professors argued with the University, trying to split the money and get anything to the students (working around the clock on the competition) but it was of no use. We won another $750K the following year and then ranked first (competing against teams from all over the world) and won another $2M a month ago. The University of Florida has kept it all.

The new policy is not just limited to faculty, this policy change AFFECTS ALL OF US. Any student, faculty, or staff member that uses any kind of university resource (for example, the room you’re probably holding your club or organization in now) is required to relinquish earned prizes to be used however the university wishes (literally, they could just mow the grass with it). UF has taken the prize out of any future competitions!

The United Faculty of Florida is currently representing our professors, but we need your voice to help the students. Please join GAU and I in front of Tigert Hall on November 19th at 4PM to let UF hear that the greed must stop. Competitors deserve the prizes they earn!

All the best,
David Greene
November 17th, 2019

[1] The Independent Florida Alligator, Meghan McGlone, "UF engineering team wins $2 million, but may not keep the prize money,'' 27 October 2019.

[2] The Independent Florida Alligator, April Rubin, "Graduate Assistants United demands UF to revisit prize money policy," 5 November 2019.

[3] The Gainesville Sun, Emily Mavrakis, "Union, UF battling over $2M competition prize", 30 October 2019.

[4] United Faculty of Florida, Susan Hegeman, "UFF-UF fights for faculty rights, files unfair labor practice charge over prize money", 1 November 2019.

[5] The Chronicle of Higher Education, Vimal Patel, "‘It Felt Like a Betrayal’: Researchers Won a $2-Million Prize. The University Wants to Take It.", 8 November 2019.

[6] University of Florida, "Research 'Prizes' and Competitions Guidelines", 27 September 2018.


Update 2019-11-18:

Marian Conway, from Nonprofit Quarterly, released an article about our plight. The write-up is mostly a compilation from earlier articles.

[7] Nonprofit Quarterly, Marian Conway, "Congratulations, You Won! Now Hand Over the Money", 18 November 2019.


Update 2019-11-20:

Many thanks to GAU, students from GatorWings, and everyone else for coming out to yesterday's student rally. I hope we were able to bring more attention to UF's new policy. University students, clubs, and organizations need to know that UF's greedy policy affects us all!

A news report about our demonstration was aired at 11PM on Gainesville's local WCJB ABC TV20.

[8] WCJB ABC TV20, Shawna Khalafi, "Protest held against UF keeping prize money from engineering team", 19 November 2019.


Update 2019-11-21:

The Public Employee Relations Committee (PERC) hearing, originally scheduled for December 4th 2019, has been postponed to mid-January, citing a motion from the University of Florida Board of Trustees to postpone (again). PERC will still collect depositions, from United Faculty of Florida lawyer Eric Lindstrom and UF professors Dr. Tan F. Wong and Dr. John Shea, on December 4th 2019.

[9] The Independent Florida Alligator, Marlowe Starling, "Committee postpones GatorWings hearing until mid-January", 21 November 2019.