Board meeting report for October 28, 2021

Here’s what was on the latest Board meeting agenda:

  1. Nominating Committee. We are still looking for people to help create this committee! Read about what the Nominating Committee will do and how to get involved on our website.
  2. Audited financial statements. Our auditor went over the draft audited financial statements for the year ending April 30, 2021, noting that we were under budget on a number of items, mostly due to cancelled events and travel. The Board approved the statements, which will be presented for approval by the membership at the Fall General Meeting on December 8.
  3. Policy 76/77 progress. At Faculty Relations Committee, we and the administration representatives shared our respective visions for teaching-intensive faculty, to see if they are close enough to continue discussions. Based on these statements, the Board has supported continuing discussions at FRC with an update expected at the next Board meeting. Two essential items for us are creating teaching-stream professorial ranks with defined progression through these ranks, and time to do the work required to progress through these ranks, in a pedagogical/professional development (PPD) term, one in every six terms. Importantly, this PPD time cannot be achieved by redistributing courses and causing overload teaching in other terms, as this would result in an overall higher workload than lecturers currently have. A PPD term must be achieved through a commensurate reduction in teaching load and/or service duties. Let us know if you agree in the comments below!
  4. Council of Representatives. We had great turnout at the October 18 Council meeting, where we talked about the AODA Education Standard recommendations, returning to campus, how the Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee works. At this Board meeting, we discussed ways to increase communication between the Board and Council, and between Council and other members. Let us know if you have suggestions about the Council of Representatives!

And here are some highlights from the written reports:

  • Equity Committee activities. The Equity Committee (EC) is planning to run a workshop on unconscious bias in recommendation letter writing in November and host a town hall to understand faculty concerns about equity in January 2022. Aimee Morrison attended the feedback session hosted by OCUFA on the provincial government guidelines on accessibility on October 20. Interested members can reach out to her directly for her report. The EC hosted soup lunch at Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre on October 28. Members of colour on the EC and beyond participated in offering feedback to facilitators Aimee Morrison and Frankie Condon to the HREI Equity Faculty Recruitment and Retention Workshop on October 22, in preparation for November workshops for the Black and Indigenous cluster hiring committees.
  • Compassionate Care and Bereavement Leave policy. Aimée Morrison and Lori Curtis will be the FAUW reps on the drafting committee for the new policy on compassionate care and bereavement leave benefits. Don’t worry: we won’t be waiting years for these. The minimum benefits are already guaranteed in our latest salary settlement and will be effective May 1, 2022, no matter what. The committee could write a policy that further clarifies and/or adds to those benefits.
  • Pension & Benefits committee. Most meetings of the Pension and Benefits Committee are open to the public and we encourage members to attend, especially when major (read: contentious) decisions are being made. We’ll keep you updated about when those are happening.

October 14 FAUW Board of Directors meeting report

And we’re back! Here’s what we’ve been working on lately – please comment below or contact us to let us know what you think!

  1. The AODA Education Standard recommendations. There are 179 initial recommendations that would inform accessibility standards (regulations) for postsecondary education across Ontario, under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. FAUW’s representative on the University’s Accessibility Committee, Zara Rafferty, visited this meeting to discuss how the recommended standards might affect faculty, and to gather concerns to inform the University’s submission to the ministry. A thread throughout the discussion and the feedback Zara has received is that instructors will need significant support in order to meet the proposed requirements. The deadline to send feedback to Zara has passed, but you can submit comments individually until November 1. Your Council member has more information about this.
  2. Proposed changes to pension plan investment documents. The Pension Investment Committee has drafted changes to the Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures and introduced new Fund Implementation Procedures and a Responsible Investment Policy. The drafts are available in the agenda for the October 22 Pension & Benefits Committee meeting. We are concerned that the proposed changes introduce unnecessary risk, may be ineffective in implementing ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) criteria, and could reduce accountability to plan members. In addition, the administration at times appears to treat pension funds as university assets, which is inappropriate.
  3. Policies 76 and 77. After the latest drafting committee failed to submit substantial revisions for the Faculty Appointments and Tenure & Promotion policies, the Board directed your Faculty Relations Committee representatives to request mediation as a way to move forward. The Board also identified things we absolutely must achieve for our teaching-intensive members (there’s a longer list on our website), including:
    • Teaching-stream professorial ranks with defined progression through these ranks.
    • Time to do the work required to progress through the ranks, in a pedagogical/professional development term (one in every six terms).
  4. Our grievance related to Policy 14 – Pregnancy & Parental Leaves (including Adoption) and the Return to Work. Members who were already on pregnancy leave when the new policy passed (on April 6) were informed by the University that when their parental leave started (after April 6), they would not qualify for expanded benefits under the new policy because it’s all “one leave” that started before the policy came into effect, even though individuals who did not give birth and went on parental leave at the same time did qualify. We believe this is inequitable treatment and that these are two separate leaves in policy, and have filed an association grievance. We know of at least five members affected by this; please contact Lori Curtis if it affects you as well.
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What will you do in your classroom for the September 30 National Day for Truth & Reconciliation?

— Steffanie Scott

Next Thursday, September 30, is the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (also known as Orange Shirt Day), a federal statutory holiday declared in response to Call to Action 80 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which reads:

We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

The Office of Indigenous Initiatives is hosting a number of related events this month, and there are things you can do in your classes or in your work—in any discipline—to use this day as an opportunity for reflection and/or action.

Truth & Reconciliation Calls to Action and universities

Two of the TRC calls to action most often referenced in relation to universities are numbers 62 and 65 (emphasis added):

62: We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal peoples, and educators, to: […] Provide the necessary funding to post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms.

65: We call upon the federal government, through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, post-secondary institutions and educators, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and its partner institutions, to establish a national research program with multi-year funding to advance understanding of reconciliation.

In the absence of these Truth & Reconciliation Calls to Action being met by the government (alongside most of the other 92 calls), we as university instructors and faculty members can still do a lot to support them. As noted on the UW Indigenous Initiatives’ Truth and Reconciliation webpage, The TRC Calls to Action provide a platform for work to:

  • mobilize debate and discussion
  • create spaces to share knowledges and research
  • access resources of new and renewed disciplines, methodologies, and practices
  • acknowledge the heterogeneity of Indigenous peoples and pedagogies
  • work together toward decolonization

September 30 is an opportune moment to put this into practice in your classroom, especially if you have not already been doing so.

Continue reading “What will you do in your classroom for the September 30 National Day for Truth & Reconciliation?”

A Q&A with OrganizeUW

OrganizeUW is a grassroots drive to unionize TAs, RAs, and sessionals currently underway at the University. We know our members have questions about what this would mean for you and for UW, and OrganizeUW is here to address these questions and concerns!

Please visit their website, especially the FAQs, for more information about eligibility, the unionization process, upcoming events, and more. And if you can’t find an answer to your question, leave it in the comments!

Who is OrganizeUW? Who’s running it, and who on campus would be unionized if you succeed?

OrganizeUW is a grassroots campaign to unionize TAs and RAs at the University of Waterloo. The campaign was started by a small but passionate group of graduate students who wish to improve conditions for student workers at UWaterloo. We come from various faculties, departments, programs, and backgrounds. The campaign is supported by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

There also is a drive to unionize sessional instructors within OrganizeUW. By “sessional instructors” we mean various categories of academic workers (students and non-students) who have contracts less than one year in duration, for which there are many terminologies in use—e.g., “special (sessional) faculty,” “adjunct professors,” “definite-term lecturers,” “research fellows.” Workers in this group are normally not represented by FAUW.

[Ed. note: FAUW represents definite-term lecturers with appointments one year or longer. The term “definite-term lecturers” does also accurately describe sessional instructors.]

Where is the process at right now?

We are in the midst of our card-signing campaign to sign 50% of workers, after which the next step will be applying for Labour Board certification.

What happens once TAs, RAs, and sessionals unionize?

Initially—nothing! Well, mostly. If we decide to unionize, our working conditions will be legally frozen in place until a first collective agreement is negotiated with the university. This provides stability while we work to establish our independent CUPE local. Locking in the current state of affairs also secures an official baseline for future negotiations and protects against cuts. Finally, it allows time to develop proper procedures for the eventual transition to new terms of work. This helps to ensure that everything goes smoothly (in contrast to the disruption from UW’s recent, sudden restructuring of grad funding).

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A Lost Opportunity: Report from the FAUW Representatives on the Policy 76/77 Drafting Committee

– By Su-Yin Tan and Kate Lawson

We are very disappointed to report that the latest effort to improve terms and conditions of employment for Definite Term and Continuing Lecturers has failed.

We are the FAUW appointees on the Policy Drafting Committee (PDC) that began work in March to revise Policies 76 Faculty Appointments and 77 Promotion and Tenure with regard to teaching stream faculty members; the administration appointees were David DeVidi (committee chair) and Kevin Hare.

We report here on the PDC procedures, FAUW objectives, and what happened over the past six months. (Note that confidentiality provisions in the Terms of Reference for the PDC mean that we can report only on public documents and on our own activities.)

We began the process believing that Lecturers at Waterloo deserve working conditions near or equal to those of teaching stream colleagues at other large non-certified Ontario universities (University of Toronto and McMaster University). UWaterloo is in very good financial shape and UW’s Lecturers are just as qualified as Toronto’s “teaching-stream professors” and McMaster’s “teaching-track professors.”

We entered into the PDC process having studied relevant policies at these “comparator institutions,” willing to prioritize our goals, and prepared for good faith and collegial discussions with the representatives of the administration. We are thus very disheartened that no agreement on any revised policies was reached.

Continue reading “A Lost Opportunity: Report from the FAUW Representatives on the Policy 76/77 Drafting Committee”

No, a vaccine mandate does not violate rights

Guest post by Emmett Macfarlane, Department of Political Science

University administrators are apparently struggling with whether to impose vaccine mandates for all students, faculty, and staff who want to be on campus this fall. A vaccine mandate of this sort is the most effective means by which to protect the campus community, limit the spread of COVID, and protect those who, for medical reasons or age limitations, cannot be vaccinated (especially the children of students, faculty, and staff who are exposed if COVID is brought home to them).

One of the most common objections to vaccine mandates is that such a policy will infringe the rights of those people who have thus far refused to get vaccinated. Both the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and provincial human rights laws, like the Human Rights Code of Ontario, are cited as preventing universities from implementing vaccine mandates.

This argument holds little water.

It is true that the broad liberty interests of unvaccinated individuals are affected by limiting where they can go, by instituting employment requirements, and by having their privacy intruded on by being required to disclose their vaccination status. Yet we already place limitations like this in many circumstances. Ontario schoolchildren have, for many years, been required to provide proof of vaccination to attend school. Smokers are not allowed to smoke in indoor public spaces, because we recognize the dangers of second-hand smoke.

In short, one person’s liberty interests end where the rights of others begin. We cannot allow people to invoke rights in the name of behaviour that produces incontrovertible harm to others.

Continue reading “No, a vaccine mandate does not violate rights”

Real academics don’t take vacations?

Our recent post “Help Dr. X take their vacation” received many spirited replies.

Some offered practical suggestions for Lecturers like Dr. X who teach three terms a year:

  • Post online content instead of class instruction for two weeks. How would chairs feel about this? What about students who listen to the online content and then email with a question or ask for help? Would the answer “I’m on vacation and will get back to you” be satisfactory?
  • Get someone else to cover your classes for two weeks. This sounds great, except … who would that be? Would you regularly take on extra work to “cover” for a colleague on vacation?
  • Take a holiday during fall break and reading week. Since many faculty use the “break” to mark or to prepare, a holiday at this time would take very careful planning. And some faculty have been called out for not being available to students or for not answering work emails during these times.

It’s also worth noting that Lecturers are far more likely than Professors to be held to the requirements of Memorandum of Agreement 11.2.3: “Vacation shall be scheduled at a time or times which are mutually satisfactory to the Member and the Department Chair.”

But some replies to the blog, both in the comments and elsewhere, hinted that vacations weren’t really the “done thing.”

Do academics even take vacations?

A recent meme suggests that eschewing vacations is a particularly North American phenomenon.

Could the “American” attitude also be the normal academic one? Do we dismiss the very idea of taking time away from our jobs?

If so, what are the costs of an academic culture that values, not just work, but overwork? What, for example, are we modelling for (and expecting from) our graduate students if “no vacations” is the accepted norm? Is this healthy—physically, socially, psychologically?

Continue reading “Real academics don’t take vacations?”

How much would a true non-teaching term cost?

One of the issues that the FAUW team hopes to address in the revision process for Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) and Policy 77 (Tenure and Promotion of Faculty Members) is workload, one component of which is a regular non-teaching term for teaching-intensive faculty.

The current Policy 76 includes a provision for non-teaching terms: “…Lecturers shall have the option to have at least one term in six be a non-teaching term.” The interpretation of this clause, however, varies across faculties and even departments. In the faculty of Environment and in several departments in Engineering and Science, the non-teaching term is taken to be a reduction in load in that academic year; other faculties such as Arts, Health, and Math interpret the non-teaching term as a redistribution of load. In this case, lecturers teach their normal annual course load in two terms rather than three.

What lecturers say

Results from the recent FAUW Lecturers Committee survey, which had a response rate of 80%, show that 61% of the 192 respondents had had at least one non-teaching term during their employment at the University. Among these lecturers, 37% had what we’ll call a “true” non-teaching term (i.e., their teaching load was reduced not redistributed) while the remaining 63% had their load redistributed. For the 39% of lecturers who have never taken a non-teaching term, the redistribution of workload was cited as the most common barrier.

In recent faculty consultation sessions organized by the Lecturers Committee, lecturers shared that that having time and resources to fulfil professional development and scholarly work is a high priority. Many lecturers commented that a true non-teaching term would allow them to engage in scholarly activities including curriculum development, professional development, pedagogical research, and staying up to date in their field. There was also discussion around the mental health benefits of a non-teaching term during which lecturers could also take their annual vacation entitlement and recharge.

We should also recall that the University’s current Strategic Plan states that Waterloo strives to be “a people-centered institution committed to genuine care, concern, respect, inclusivity and well-being for all.” These values include commitments “to embed and promote sustainability and foster personal development and supportive environments for mental health and resilience, physical health, social inclusion, belonging and spiritual well-being in campus culture.”

Ensuring that teaching faculty have adequate time to engage in foundational academic activities—such as staying up to date in their fields and planning new courses—as well as much needed personal activities—such as taking vacations— is necessary for UW to fulfil these commitments.

The numbers

So, how much would it cost the University to implement a true non-teaching term for lecturers? Relying on FAUW membership data on lecturers and on data collected from the FAUW Lecturers Committee survey, we’ve come up with an upper-bound cost estimate.

Continue reading “How much would a true non-teaching term cost?”

The UW Equity Survey: An important, easy win

You are so tired.

There is so much work to do. It’s hard to get going on the big things on your to-do list. But you have thirty minutes in your day and you are hoping to get something important accomplished. You probably aren’t going to finish your book, write your grant proposal budget, synthesize a polymer, or mark all of the essays that were just submitted. You probably aren’t going to vacuum, and you probably shouldn’t cut your own hair.

But in just ten minutes or less, you could complete the Equity Survey that was sent to you by UWaterloo Communications. You could start that, finish it, and cross it off your list. Then, you could offer yourself a simple reward with your remaining twenty minutes. Jay Dolmage of our Equity Committee completed the survey and then had a piece of pie. Joe Qian finished it and then had a nice lunch. Kim Nguyen answered all of the questions and then ate ice cream cake. Aimée Morrison went for a leisurely bike ride after she was done.

There aren’t many easy wins right now. But this is one of them. A robust response to this survey from faculty is so important. Having this data will allow the University to better develop resources. It will allow FAUW to better advocate for equity. Doing your part will be a great use of your valuable time.

June 17 Board meeting report

This is our last Board of Directors meeting report until September, and Dan Brown’s last president’s report. We’ll continue posting here and emailing members over the summer about policy development and other issues as they evolve.

President’s report

-dan brown

This will be my last report as FAUW president, and this board meeting will be the last for FAUW’s vice-president Johanna Wandel, treasurer Brent Matheson, at-large representatives Narveen Jandu and Dina Dawoud, and Engineering representative Alfred Yu. I’m extremely grateful to all of these colleagues for their service! I’m also looking forward to seeing what the new board makes happen, with Lori Curtis moving into the president’s role. 

The news from the past two weeks has been especially grim, with the discovery of a mass grave at a residential school in Kamloops, BC, and with the murder of a Muslim family living in London, Ontario that has been declared a hate crime. At times, it’s overwhelming to me just how much work on reconciliation, dialogue, and changing our society must happen; at other times, I’m excited by just how much better our society can become.

This week is Convocation. Normally, it’s one of my favourite events of the year, and it’s hard to believe we have had two years of these being done online. I hope that we can return to hooding our graduates soon, and sending them off into their careers. It’s also the last week of Convocations with President Hamdullahpur as one of the presiding officers.

We heard some updates about teaching plans for fall at the town hall on Tuesday. I’m hopeful that COVID cases become less prevalent as vaccination starts to take effect here in Waterloo Region. Our colleague Mario Ioannidis continues to meet with relevant people from HR and other offices across campus as part of a taskforce on returning to campus.

What else we talked about

The Board received a draft of Policy 57 – Employee Accommodations for a preliminary review. Faculty Relations Committee will discuss the draft this week, and once it receives support in principle there, it will go out for wider consultation. Our representatives on the Policy 57 Drafting Committee are Jay Dolmage and Lori Curtis.

Vershawn Young updated the Board about the development of a Black Studies program at Waterloo. The Black Studies Implementation Team submitted two new diplomas to the Arts Undergraduate Affairs Group on June 3: General Black Studies diploma and Fundamentals of Anti-Racist Communication. Since then, they submitted a fulsome report and recommendations to senior University administrators. Young suggested FAUW could support four of the Implementation Team’s recommendations in particular:

  • Implement an advising system to keep track of students enrolling in and matriculating through the two Black Studies diplomas.
  • Establish and task a team to develop and implement the Black Cultural Centre.
  • Transfer the Lecturer lines of current Black Faculty into tenured and/or tenure-track lines.
  • Appoint Black Studies Programme Director and Advisory Board to Participate in University Black Cluster Hires.

We approved new members of FAUW standing committees, starting July 1:

  • Equity Committee: Jay Dolmage will continue for another year as chair. Mario Boido, Barbara Schmenk, Elizabeth Meiering, and Antonio Muñoz Gómez (LAAUW) are joining the committee.
  • Lecturers Committee: Su-Yin Tan has been re-elected for another two-year term as chair. Sarah Ruffel (SCI)l, Laila Rohani (ARTS), Elena Neiterman (HEALTH), Jenny Howcroft (ENG), and Rania Al-Hammoud (ENG) will join the committee.
  • The Executive Committee (and Faculty Relations Committee representatives) for the next year will be Lori Curtis (President), Kate Lawson, (Vice President), Heidi Engelhardt (Treasurer), Trevor Charles, and Mario Ioannidis.
Continue reading “June 17 Board meeting report”