Over the past several years, UCSD has had a "soft" closure between
Christmas and New Year's Day. Staff were required to take vacation on
non-holidays and faculty were not required to be "in residence". I think
the idea was to save on energy costs.
This year, UCSD will have a "hard" closure over the longer interval
between December 19 and January 3. Staff and faculty will be required to
take six of their furlough days at this time in addition to the four
regular holidays. There will extremely minimal staffing for safety,
health, and physical plant issues. Faculty and staff will not be
authorized to be on campus during the hard closure, and the administration
has taken an very hard line on exceptions -- none have been given out in
my unit aside for those people out in the field.
I suppose this "hard" closure seems like a great idea to the UCSD
administration because it consolidates furlough days during a time when
many people will be away from campus, but I fear that it may cost more
than it saves. We are a science-oriented campus, and many lab and
computing facilities are time constrained, so it is a tremendous loss of
resources to simply shut them down for two and a half weeks. Moreover,
how will those faculty and staff paid by extramural funds on furlough days
(a large fraction of us) be able to work if they can't come into the lab?
It is tacitly admitted that many faculty will nonetheless come to work on
campus during the closure without authorization because they can't afford
not to. The declaration of UCSD that there will be furloughs and a hard
closure doesn't absolve people from meeting their obligations to funding
agencies and outside collaborators. The danger is, if something goes
wrong, there will be a slow emergency response due to the very minimal
staffing of the health, safety, and the physical plant.