Students in Cecilia Sandoval’s U.S. and Texas Government and Politics II class did not meet Thursday after she sent an email stating she would be absent because the university had not paid her for the overload course.
“I think it’s pretty good that [Sandoval] canceled class because, as an employee also, I wouldn’t want to work without getting paid,” criminal justice junior Ryan Lozano said. “I think that’s unfair to the professor. I also think it’s unfair to the students who have paid their classes and yet, you know, the professor is not getting paid, so the professor is not going to put any effort into the class.”
Lozano, who is not enrolled in Sandoval’s class but saw the email posted on Facebook, said he believes the professor did the right thing.
“She emailed the students first hand and it’s better than just showing up to class and the professor not even going and has you wondering what’s going on,” he said. “I think she did the right step by informing the students.”
The political science lecturer’s email went viral among UTRGV students on social media Wednesday evening.
UTRGV Provost Havidán Rodríguez told The Rider Sandoval’s paperwork had been processed and approved.
“This is an unfortunate event that transpired,” Rodríguez said. “One of the things that I just want to re-emphasize, we as a university want to provide the best education to our students. We, as faculty members, and I speak now as a faculty member, want to ensure that our students are successful inside the classroom and outside the classroom. We go through a process as a university and this is common of all universities, basically, when we provide overloads to faculty.”
Overloads are courses assigned to faculty members above their normal course load, the provost said.
“All these faculty members are being paid their regular salaries at UTRGV, so no one is not being paid,” Rodríguez said. “Now, the overloads typically occur because of an emergency situation. … Once classes start, we assign a faculty member an overload course as soon as we find out the paperwork gets submitted. It gets processed, it goes through the department chair, the dean and then the provost office so it can get processed for payment.
“Of course, if something occurs, let’s say Jan. 19, which is when classes started, it’s going to take some time to get the paperwork processed. So, these faculty members are typically not going to get paid for their overload on Feb. 1, but on March 1. … Everybody at UTRGV, whether they have an overload or not, they will get paid.”
In a second email from Sandoval that went viral, she wrote that she had requested her pay four times as well as an emergency check.
“On the fourth time the Provost approved it, but would not grant me my emergency check until some question were answered why I wanted to get an emergency check. … It is not welfare, I am entitled to this money since I have worked for it,” Sandoval wrote in the email.
The provost said Walter Diaz, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, is “handling this situation.”
“Emergency checks are typically designed to make sure that a person, and it could be a student, it could be a staff member, it could be a faculty member, a check is automated outside the normal payroll cycle because there was an issue that there was a mistake, someone did not submit the paperwork, there was some major mistake along the way that we decide that, yes, this merits an emergency paycheck and then it gets processed,” Rodríguez said.
Diaz was unavailable for comment.
“We have university processes,” Rodríguez said. “If a faculty member has an issue or a concern about pay, salary or whatever issue they may have, all faculty members know there is a process. You go to your department chair and address your issue with the department chair. If the issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, then you can go to the dean of the college and if the dean doesn’t resolve it to your satisfaction, you can always come to the provost to address this situation, either by email or letter or by phone.”
The Rider tried to contact Sandoval for comment on the issue but as of press time Thursday, she had not returned calls or emails.
Asked what message he had for the students concerned about the issue, Rodríguez replied: “We as the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley care very profoundly about their education at our institution. We take steps every day to ensure that they get the best education possible. They should not be concerned about the situation. Their classes are not going to be canceled. Their degrees are not going to be impacted by this or any other similar situation.”
Lozano said the university should inform its employees when they are getting paid.
“If they’re not going to be able to afford another professor to teach the Thursday class, they should have informed the professor beforehand rather than having her teach a class in hopes of her getting paid than not getting paid at all,” he said.