Updates from the August 6 & September 17 FAUW Board of Directors meetings

The FAUW Board of Directors meets every two weeks (except during July and August). After most meetings, we share a summary of the non-confidential parts of the meetings, to make sure our members know what we’re working on. If you subscribe to our blog, you’ll get these updates by email.

Here are some of the things we talked about at our last two meetings:

  1. Negotiations. We spent the first part of both meetings with our new negotiating team, discussing possible goals and preparing for the town hall meeting on Tuesday, September 22.
  2. Policy 14 – Pregnancy & Parental Leaves (Including Adoption). The Board had a first look at the new Policy 14 draft. Members will have an opportunity to review the proposed new policy soon!
  3. 2020 Performance Reviews. As announced by FAUW and the Provost recently, FAUW is finalizing an agreement to allow members to skip having their performance evaluated in categories they choose in 2020. We are working out details with the administration now.
  4. Policy 33 – Ethical Behaviour. The new draft of this policy is currently being revised based on feedback from stakeholders, including FAUW.
  5. Winter term. It turns out this has kind of been announced, at least in some faculties, so in case you haven’t heard: winter term will look pretty much like fall term.
  6. Masks on campus. We had some concerns about the initial announcement (on July 21) about where and when masks are required on campus, and those concerns were addressed. (The University issued a follow-up statement on July 31 that masks would be required in classrooms and teaching labs in addition to the other common areas previously announced.)

Indigenization in STEM Community of Practice Kicks Off with “absolutely great” session

On July 16, over 150 people attended an inaugural webinar organized by the Indigenization in STEM Community of Practice (CoP). It featured Veselin Jungic sharing his experiences collaborating with First Nations communities across British Columbia and Alberta to create an innovative, community-based program to engage First Nations children and youth in studying mathematics.

Who is Veselin Jungic?

Dr. Jungic, a mathematics professor from Simon Fraser University, is a 3M National Teaching Fellow and a recipient of several teaching awards including the Canadian Mathematical Society Teaching Award and the Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences Educational Award.

What is Math Catchers?

Beginning in 2011, Math Catchers is a program to interest Indigenous elementary and high school students in studying mathematics. Adopting Indigenous ways of knowing, Math Catchers uses storytelling, puzzles, pictures and a variety of hands-on activities to make math relevant and fun. Characters like Small Number and Big Circle are featured in a series of stories showcasing how math is everywhere, a vital part of everyday life.

What was the response to Dr. Jungic’s presentation?

This quote, taken directly from the session chat captures the feeling in the room. “Your presentation was very moving. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Your heart and passion for this is clear.” Dr. Jungic’s passion for mathematics, his students and his role as an educator was inspiring and motivates us all to consider what more we can do to become Indigenous allies.

Key take-aways

Be patient! Veselin reminded us that when he started, he was “just another white man asking for something.” He advised us to take the time to build trusting relationships and understand the needs of the Indigenous communities we hope to work with.

Veselin also talked about how his work with First Nations peoples has made him a better teacher, more attuned to students and how their stories frame their learning.

What is the Indigenization in STEM Community of Practice?

Established just this year, the STEM Indigenization CoP aims to create a vehicle for sharing ideas of how to Indigenize courses, decolonize teaching practices, promote two-eyed seeing and engage meaningfully and respectfully with Indigenous communities.

What’s next?

The group will be hosting more sessions and hope to share helpful resources. If you have an idea for a speaker whose experience would benefit the group, just let any of the organizers know. They are:

Anti-Black racism: An apology and a commitment

I have been President of FAUW for almost three years now. In this time, I have not done enough advocacy and work on behalf of Black faculty colleagues to eliminate the systemic racism they face at our University and even within FAUW. For this I am truly sorry. The FAUW Board also apologizes for not doing more on this front.

FAUW is committed to joining the fight against systemic anti-Black racism on our campuses. In addition to this apology, we commit ourselves to:

  1. Listening to Black faculty colleagues.
  2. Learning about the systemic racism Black faculty colleagues face to help inform our next steps.
  3. Better enabling and encouraging Black faculty members to participate in FAUW decision making and reducing barriers to full consultation.
  4. Identifying possible ways to address anti-Black racism, including changing problematic policies and practices that reinforce the racism Black faculty colleagues face.
  5. Continuing to consult with Black faculty colleagues on any actions we identify before implementing them.
  6. Taking meaningful actions that go beyond talking or blogging like this, so that changes in policy and practice actually happen—both within FAUW and at the University.
  7. Advocating for change for Black faculty colleagues.

Although we have not done nearly enough yet, we started this work in earnest after the last Senate meeting. As part of this effort, we have met with the Black Faculty Collective (BFC) three times since then. The BFC informally represent the small number of Black faculty on the Waterloo, Renison, St. Paul’s, St. Jerome’s and Conrad Grebel campuses (they count 8 faculty). Discussions at these meetings informed the steps outlined above.

Our discussions so far have also made clear to me the fundamental importance of white people like me stepping forward to do most of this work, because underrepresented Black faculty can’t possibly do it on their own—nor should they have to. Let’s not forget, Black faculty are here to do teaching and research. So FAUW’s learning, work, actions, and advocacy need to move forward based primarily on significant investments of our own time and energy. But neither should FAUW fail to listen and fully consult.

The process will take much longer than my few weeks left as FAUW President, and longer than the one year I will serve as Past President starting in September. Despite this, I pledge to be in this fight against anti-Black racism for the long haul and I will do my best to equip FAUW to continue this work after I step away from the organization.  

Bryan Tolson,
FAUW President

10 ways academics can promote climate justice today

Written by professors Allison Kelly and Sharon Kirkpatrick of the FAUW Climate Justice Working Group.

The pandemic has consumed much of our attention and energy over the last few months, making it understandably difficult to find the mental and emotional space to consider other societal challenges. However, as the pandemic persists, we may gradually be able to turn our attention to issues such as climate and racial injustice that pre-dated – and will certainly outlive – the pandemic. Alongside the devastation of the pandemic come opportunities to reflect on the status quo and to identify ways to create a more sustainable, just future for us all. As faculty members, we are in a unique position to take meaningful action toward climate justice.

Our actions can not only make a difference to the climate justice agenda but may also serve to reduce our own eco-anxiety while modeling actions other members of our community can take. Here are some things we can all consider doing:

  1. Add your voice. Sign petitions advocating for climate-just change at institutional and governmental levels, and share your actions with others to inspire them to do the same. One immediate action we can all take is to support the call for UW to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in a just, climate-safe future, just as our faculty colleagues have done at other top universities such as Harvard and UBC.
  2. Get involved. Join groups on campus dedicated to climate justice, including FAUW’s Climate Justice Working Group, Indigenization Working Group, and Equity Committee. These groups allow us to connect and work with like-minded colleagues and can turn feelings of isolation and eco-anxiety into collective inspiration and action.
  3. Hold the University accountable. Raise climate justice at the tables at which you sit and highlight the co-benefits of actions to advance climate justice for the University’s broader goals – including sustainability, mental health and wellness, equity, and Indigenization – as well as for its reputation as an innovator and risk taker.
  4. Be an advocate. Lobby your professional organizations to tackle climate justice, for example, by reducing conference-related air travel. Our adaptations to the pandemic have taught us that virtual conferences can be highly engaging; they can also be more accessible to those who typically cannot afford travel to in-person meetings, making them more equitable.
  5. Branch out in your research. Be innovative in imagining how you could integrate a focus on climate justice in your research. You may not see obvious links, but climate change will undoubtedly impact all our fields and we desperately need expertise and insights from all disciplines to tackle this issue! Form and join groups of researchers across disciplines that care about this issue.
Continue reading “10 ways academics can promote climate justice today”

Welcome new faculty!

The New Faculty Orientation LEARN site launches this week, and it features a new video from FAUW that explains who we are and what we do.

If you’ve joined Waterloo in the last year and you haven’t received your invitation (from the Provost’s Office) to the LEARN site and New Faculty Orientation by Tuesday, please let us know!

Video transcript

dan brown, FAUW President / School of Computer Science: Hello! Welcome to Waterloo. I’m the president of FAUW, the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo, which is the official representative of members of the Waterloo faculty. I’m here with a bunch of our committee chairs and Board members to tell you a little bit about what FAUW does for its members.

Bryan Tolson, FAUW’s Past President / Civil and Environmental Engineering: FAUW is not a union, but we do collectively bargain for our members’ salaries.

Johanna Wandel, FAUW Vice President / Geography and Environmental Management: We also negotiate fair and equitable university policies and make sure faculty voices are represented on dozens of University committees.

Lori Curtis, Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee Chair / Economics: We have a team of colleagues ready to assist our members with the tenure & promotion process or any workplace issues that may arise.

Kate Lawson, FAUW Director (Arts) / English Language and Literature: FAUW also represents Waterloo at provincial and national bodies that advocate for university faculty.

Narveen Jandu, FAUW Director-at-large / School of Public Health and Health Systems: We host events throughout the year to bring faculty together. At these events, we share information and offer advice on everything from taking leaves to work-life balance.

Alfred Yu, FAUW Director (Engineering) / Electrical and Computer Engineering: We make sure you hear about things happening on campus that affect our faculty through our blog, social media, and email.

Jay Dolmage, Equity Committee Chair / English Language and Literature: FAUW’s Equity Committee advocates for faculty from underrepresented groups and we’re working to build a more equitable university.

Su-Yin Tan, Lecturers Committee Chair / Geography and Environmental Management: Our Lecturer Committee is the voice for Lecturers on campus, advocating for this large group of Waterloo’s faculty.

Allison Kelly, Climate Justice Working Group Co-chair / Psychology: Our new Climate Justice Working Group is advocating for ways that the university can ethically respond to the climate crisis.

Nancy Worth, Indigenization Working Group member / Geography and Environmental Management: FAUW’s Indigenization Working Group helps faculty members better understand and act on Indigenization and reconciliation efforts.

Heidi Engelhardt, FAUW Director (Science) / Biology: You can contact any of us on the FAUW Board or FAUW staff member if you need help with anything as you settle into your role at Waterloo.

dan brown, FAUW President: We’re looking forward to welcoming you more fully at either the new faculty orientation in September or at one of our events this year. Again, welcome.

Learn more or join FAUW at uwaterloo.ca/fauw.

Things we talked about at the July Board meeting

We’ve added some extra Board meetings to the calendar this summer. Here are some highlights from the first one, on July 10:

  1. We discussed concerns from a member about the proposal to migrate most telephones on campus to “softphones.” Essentially, the plan is to replace the physical phone that sits on your desk with software that functions as a phone via your computer, tablet, and/or smartphone (Skype for Business, in this case). Note that labs will still be equipped with emergency phones where needed. We are asking for official consultation directly with FAUW before this moves forward and for this be discussed at the Joint Health and Safety Committee. 
  2. We talked about how to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on 2020 performance reviews. There is an existing provision in section 13.5.4 (b) of the Memorandum of Agreement between FAUW and UW to account for missing data in performance reviews when members have been on leave. We want this same option to be available, automatic upon request, to all regular faculty for their 2020 performance review, considering the impacts of COVID-19 on all areas of faculty work. 

“A…Member who has been on leave shall receive in any category where assessment is not possible as a result of the leave, a rating equal to the average ratings of the three previous years in which the Member was not on leave.” 

MoA section 13.5.4 (b)
  1. We spoke at length about anti-black racism and what FAUW can do. Members will hear more on this from us in the coming weeks and months for sure.  
  2. The consultation plan for the new draft of Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) is being finalized and we expect to see the full draft policy very soon. We want the draft Policy to go to both our Board and the Lecturers Committee as soon as possible. 
  3. We are working with the Provost to find a way to use the accumulated unspent FPER funds from the last few years (see article 6 of our last salary settlement).
  4. We’ve selected our negotiating team for the 2020-21 salary negotiations. We will announce the members of the team and begin consulting with members about priorities soon. 

Notes from our June Board meetings

In absolutely no particular order, here are some of the things we’ve been working on or talking about this month. As always, feel free to comment below or otherwise get in touch with a Board member to share your input.

  1. The library begins pickup service starting June 26!
  2. Major win: The Registrar’s Office (RO) will schedule synchronous course activities on request this fall (as usual). We also got confirmation that for the RO to not provide this service would require a decision at Senate. Thank you to everyone who helped advocate for this at Senate and through other channels. We’ve since released a statement to all members about the decision by three Faculties (Arts, Math, and Engineering) to not use RO scheduling services for fall term.
  3. There are new remote teaching guidelines regarding privacy and intellectual property—give them a read if you haven’t yet. We were not consulted about these guidelines and don’t have official opinions on them yet.
  4. HR has been prorating merit increases for faculty on paid sick leave. We believe this contravenes the Memorandum of Agreement (while there are provisions in the MoA for prorating merit, they are for unpaid leaves) and we are discussing this at Faculty Relations Committee.
  5. The end is in sight: The Policy 76 drafting committee has sent a draft to FRC. FRC is advising on next steps for consultation.
  6. We are sorting out what we will do in place of our usual new faculty social events in July and August. The University’s new faculty orientation (in which we play a supporting role) will be fully online.
  7. The Equity Office postponed its Pride celebrations in light of the Black Lives Matter protests and the vast increase in disclosures of racism from members of the UW community. The Gender and Sexual Diversity Working Group, on which FAUW is represented, has issued a statement in support of this decision.
Continue reading “Notes from our June Board meetings”

Veronica Kitchen’s June 2020 Senate Report

Veronica Kitchen is an Associate Professor of Political Science and an elected Arts Senator who produces a great summary after each University Senate meeting and has agreed to share them here. Her reports understandably focus on items relevant to Arts faculty and are not intended to be a comprehensive summary of all the agenda items, nor should they be viewed as a substitute for the official minutes on the University Secretariat’s website.

[We’ve cut a few very Arts-specific items this time, because this was a long one!]

Items of interest [especially] to Arts on the Regular Agenda

  1. Graduate studies is changing calendar language re: students who are required to withdraw, and making it possible for students who are required to withdraw for academic reasons to voluntarily withdraw instead (thus making admission to another graduate program easier).
  2. Approval of a new Major in Communication Arts & Design Practice
  3. New transfer credit agreement between Arts & the University of Essex, in which students will get a BA and an LLB in Human Rights Law. Open to students taking a human rights minor.
  4. Changes to academic progression and admission to major rules in light of the increase in CR/NCR on student transcripts.
  5. Endorsement of the process in practice for minor changes to academic programming in light of COVID & remote teaching.  

Return to Campus 

Return to campus now has its own agenda item, instead of being delivered by the President. There is a new Integrated Coordination and Planning Committee to regularize return to campus. This will now be delivered in three segments by working groups of the ICPC.

Continue reading “Veronica Kitchen’s June 2020 Senate Report”

UW statement risks chilling Black anti-racism scholarship

On June 6, in relation to a matter with a faculty member that prompted a public outcry and media response, the University of Waterloo told the press that “The University of Waterloo unequivocally believes that there is no place for the use of the N-word in class, on campus or in our community.” 

At the June 15 meeting of University of Waterloo’s Senate, we heard from UWaterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur that the University would revise and reissue this statement, but we still feel it is important to release our response, originally written prior to this announcement at Senate. At the time we are publishing this response, the University’s June 6 statement is still online in its original form. 

FAUW is deeply concerned about the harm that racialized students, colleagues, and community members experience because of racist language. We are also concerned about the chilling effect that the University’s statement will have on University of Waterloo scholars, especially on Black, Indigenous, and other racialized scholars who research and teach about race and racism. Indeed, we are aware that at least two local Black scholars have also expressed this concern to the University in the last week. 

FAUW strongly opposes the prohibition implied by the University’s statement. Whether a word is appropriate for use in class is a scholarly decision that instructors must be free to make. In particular, instructors who teach about race and racism must be free, according to their best judgement, to lead unvarnished discussions about racist language. 

FAUW President Bryan Tolson made the following statement at the June 15 Senate meeting: 

Continue reading “UW statement risks chilling Black anti-racism scholarship”

Faculties withholding centralized scheduling support from instructors

Here’s the good news: After much discussion at Senate and behind-the-scenes lobbying, the Registrar’s Office is now scheduling synchronous meet times for fall 2020, as they normally would. 

Synchronous = students and instructor interact online in real time.
Asynchronous = weekly tasks and deadlines exist but there is no set class time.

The bad news is that at least one Faculty (maybe more) has opted not to use the Registrar’s Office (RO) to schedule synchronous activities, without appropriately engaging collegial bodies such as faculty council. FAUW believes this needs to change. 

Why not scheduling synchronous activities centrally is a problem 

  1. It’s bad for students. When scheduling synchronous activities is left to individual instructors (as in at least one Faculty), it’s very easy to create conflicts for students. That’s one big reason we have centralized scheduling in the first place. In an already confusing, difficult time, it is also unfair to expect students who are enrolled in more than one Faculty to navigate different scheduling processes. Further, instructors surveying students about their availability may inadvertently violate student privacy and confidentiality in a way that the RO won’t because the RO has existing systems in place to optimize scheduling without compromising student privacy. 
  2. It’s more work for instructors. Instructors are already working as hard as they can so let’s not ask them to do scheduling work that others normally do on their behalf (and are still employed to do).  
  3. It violates academic freedom. We are concerned that withholding central supports from instructors with the aim of constraining their pedagogical choices sets a worrisome precedent and risks violating instructors’ academic freedom to teach as they judge fit using the resources that are available.  
  4. It undermines collegial governance. Academic decisions of this type need to be made collegially through bodies established for such deliberation and decision-making. This circumvention of collegial governance is even more concerning given the substantial debate that colleagues had about this matter at Senate—the University’s highest collegial body and indeed the body charged in the University of Waterloo Act with making academic decisions.  
Continue reading “Faculties withholding centralized scheduling support from instructors”