Exhaustion, burnout, and mental health challenges for some UT Knoxville staff

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Exhaustion, burnout, and mental health challenges are three things facing some staff at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.

One of those, a professor of German, said is not just worried about herself but teachers who are not tenured and therefore, don’t have as much support available to them.

“I’m seeing it happen in my colleagues who teach these high course loads — exhaustion, burnout, and mental health challenges. And it’s actually more work, because not only have they had to continue to innovate pedagogically to teach (mostly) online…” Sarah Eldridge, a German professor, said.

Eldridge said that employees and staff are being asked to do “emergency-exertion work on a austerity-resources budget.”

When Fall Break was canceled, due to a modified semester because of COVID-19, Eldridge said this is contributing to the overall exhaustion.

“The one thing that’s still a problem, is that employees don’t have the ability to get tested on campus. that’s something that they can chose to do,” Josh Smyser, an employee in the Mail Services division, said.

Both Smyser and Eldridge are part of the United Campus Workers. Both shared concerns for the frontline custodial workers who keep UT Knoxville clean during the pandemic.

Smyser said he believes those frontline custodial workers deserve hazard pay. He also says that employees should be able to be tested on campus, like students.

A UT Knoxville spokesperson was contacted with these concerns, this story will be updated with that statement.

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