Twitter Day of Action to Support Fairness for Contract Faculty

Friday March 3 is a Twitter Day of Action to Support Fairness for Contract Faculty organized by OCUFA (Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations). Please consider using the hashtags #OurUniversity or #OurCollege, and #Fairness4CF on that day to raise awareness concerning the need for fairness for contract faculty.

You can visit the OCUFA website for more information and ways to promote this social media action. It is organized to build on the momentum created during last fall’s Fair Employment Week.

All faculty members at Ontario universities and concerned citizens are invited to participate. Please share widely!

Know Your Rights: Disability Accommodations for Waterloo Faculty

This month, FAUW’s Status of Women and Equity Committee hosted Margaret Price, an award-winning scholar of disability, to present findings from an international study examining the experiences of disabled faculty members. Professor Price will continue in an official role as a consultant to FAUW as we navigate accommodation processes at Waterloo. Unlike the clear and consistent accommodations process in place for students, faculty navigate a much more difficult terrain.

Know your rights: disability accommodations for waterloo faculty

Here’s what we know

Ontario Human Rights Commission

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) states that:

Costs of accommodation must be distributed as widely as possible within the organization responsible for accommodation so that no single department, employee, customer or subsidiary is burdened with the cost of an accommodation. The appropriate basis for evaluating the cost is based on the budget of the organization as a whole, not the branch or unit in which the person with a disability works or to which the person has made an application.[1]

Employees should be aware that necessary accommodations are not subject to budget limitations at the departmental or unit level. The University of Waterloo can and frequently does take financial responsibility for accommodation provisions at both the faculty and the central administrative levels.

Moreover, administration of accommodations must be central, and disclosure limited to protect the privacy and dignity of the individual.

Faculty should not feel compelled to disclose disability diagnoses to their chairs or deans, or anyone else in a position of power over their hiring, tenure and promotion, salary, teaching assignments, performance evaluation or other benefits and responsibilities. A chair or dean may need knowledge of an accommodation, but they won’t ever need to know a diagnosis. Your chair or dean might be the nicest, most accommodating person in the world, but, as the OHRC guidelines show, they have too much control over your career to be involved in the accommodation process without the danger of bias. Removing your superiors from the process protects them as well. And, as the OHRC tells us, this is your right.

The precedent set by almost all of our peer institutions across Ontario, Canada and North America also reinforces this message: accommodations must be paid for and administered centrally. The OHRC guidelines are common sense and common practice.

Research-based guidelines

During her presentation, Professor Price, along with her research partners, laid out a similar set of guidelines for faculty accommodations, in even greater detail.

These included the following clear guidance:

Neither upper-level administrators nor chairs/directors should require faculty members to arrange accommodations with the same person who makes salary, scheduling, evaluation, or promotion decisions about their work. [Universities should:]

  • Ensure there is a central office or system to arrange faculty accommodations, so that faculty do not have to negotiate disability issues with their chair, dean, or provost.
  • Ensure that accommodations are funded centrally, so that a faculty member’s accommodation needs are not charged to their department or program. Access is an institutional responsibility, not a departmental or programmatic responsibility. Involving departments or programs in paying for faculty members’ accommodations leads to discriminatory outcomes such as avoiding hiring disabled personnel, and/or resentment from colleagues or supervisors.
  • Ensure that all accommodation requests and negotiations can be carried out confidentially. Contact information for the central office/person who handles faculty accommodation should be easily findable via every department’s or program’s web page, so that faculty seeking accommodations do not have to “ask around,” which may involve making unwanted disclosures. In addition, this information should be included in all orientations and relevant faculty trainings.

Seeking accommodations at Waterloo

As we work with Waterloo’s administration to ensure that these guidelines are followed, we encourage faculty members to do three simple things:

  1. Feel empowered to disclose disabilities and ask for help and accommodation. Far too few faculty seek and obtain the accommodations to which they have a right. We are a more productive, inclusive, and effective workplace if we all seek the accommodations we need, when we need them. FAUW will support all faculty members who need assistance.
  2. Do not disclose disability to superiors. Instead, contact Linda Brogden or Karen Parkinson at Occupational Health to begin the accommodation process. If you would like to discuss any questions, concerns, or if you encounter barriers in the accommodations process, contact Katie Damphouse or Christopher Small from FAUW’s Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee.
  3. Share this blog post, and these procedures, with all of your colleagues. We are all likely to need accommodations at some point in our careers. More than this, we need to be prepared to help our disabled colleagues. Currently, many of your friends and neighbors are afraid to seek accommodations, or confused or frustrated by the system. Conveying these guidelines to one another, to make them common knowledge, helps us all.

Waterloo aims to be one of the top employers in Canada, and these guidelines will help us to achieve this goal.

Update, June 12, 2017: Price and co-authors have just released an article on the same study, “Disclosure of Mental Disability by College and University Faculty: The Negotiation of Accommodations, Supports, and Barriers,” published in Disability Studies Quarterly (DSQ), which explores their findings and recommendations in more detail.

1. Ontario Human Rights Commission (2016).  Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability.  ISBN/ISSN: Print: 978-1-4606-8602-7 | HTML: 978-1-4606-8607-2 |PDF: 978-1-4606-8612-6. [This document is intended to provide clear, user-friendly guidance on how to assess, handle and resolve human rights matters related to disability.]

Report from December 2016 Lecturers’ Town Hall Meetings

FAUW created a Lecturers Committee in spring 2015. Discussions about a review of Policy 76, which deals with appointment categories and promotion, highlighted the need for FAUW to better understand the unique needs of lecturers. Going forward, this committee will continue to advise the FAUW Board on matters pertaining to all aspects of the working lives of lecturers.

The Lecturers Committee hosted town hall meetings in December 2016. The committee provided context on the relationship of the Lecturers Committee to the FAUW Board, the issues raised via a 2014 meeting of lecturers and 2015 Lecturers Survey, and the current activities of the committee. The floor was then opened for discussion. Some of the highlights were:

  • Career path: The process for promotion to Continuing status is poorly defined and inconsistent across units. There is a need to clearly define ranks and the expectations for progression, and communicate this to all levels of administration.
  • Professional development: Both an expectation for lecturers to remain current in their field and provision for time to do this (‘one non-teaching term in six’) are enshrined in Policy 76. However, inconsistencies across and within units on how and whether this clause is applied are widespread.
  • Workload: Assignment of weightings for teaching tasks is inconsistent across units. Particularly with online teaching, values assigned to the development and delivery of online courses varies both across and within units. 
  • Service roles: Wording in policy surrounding lecturer eligibility for service tasks is ambiguous. Both lecturers and administrators are often uncertain if lecturers are eligible to serve in certain roles. 
  • Annual performance reviews: The process and the associated document template is designed for research faculty and therefore inappropriate for lecturers. 
  • Terminal degree: Similar to tenure-track positions, a PhD may not be the appropriate qualification for teaching-stream faculty in some disciplines (Pharmacy, Optometry, Accounting, Architecture, math, languages). This should be considered when revising policies governing the appointment and career progression of lecturers.”

A full report of the town hall meetings is available on the FAUW website, along with the slides used at these sessions.

President’s Report to Members

<![CDATA[Sally Gunz, FAUW President

As I write this, those of you who are teaching this term will be enjoying the winter term break. I wish you well. May you have a good holiday, catch up, or achieve whatever goals you set yourself for the week. I last wrote in November so it is time for a short update on matters relating to FAUW.

New president

First, and most importantly, congratulations to Bryan Tolson for his election as the incoming president of FAUW. I suspect every former FAUW president shares my sentiments; it is a real pleasure to know that there are always members of our academy willing to take over leadership roles on FAUW. Bryan is particularly dedicated to FAUW and its members and will make an excellent president. He is formally on sabbatical from March 1 until August 31st so I will continue on as acting president through July and August, with Bryan beginning his term in September.

Elections for members-at-large of the board

Elections for four (4) member-at-large positions and one (1) lecturer position on the FAUW board will be held ahead of the April general meeting. I encourage anyone interested in running for such a position to discuss what it entails with any current or former board member. Nomination forms will be available on the FAUW website from March 1 with a closing date for nominations of March 13. The election itself (an online ballot) will be conducted March 21 through April 3.

Hagey Lecture

The Hagey Lecture is the premier event in the university speaker calendar. Typically it is held in the fall but this year it was shifted to March 2017 in order to accommodate the speaker’s schedule. The committee (chaired by Jasmin Habib) has selected an outstanding speaker. Dr. Carol Barnes (University of Arizona) will discuss how memory and the brain change during aging, highlighting some of the current thinking about how to optimize brain and mental functions throughout life. Please join us at the Humanities Theatre (HH) on 22nd March. Visit the event page to secure your free ticket.

Fall term break

The fall term break is a three-year pilot. Results from a student survey conducted by the Student Success Office will be presented at the next senate meeting. FAUW was asked about the perspective of faculty members and we encourage you to respond to our request for input if you have specific thoughts. So far the main concerns we have heard expressed centre around the difficulty for lab-based courses as a result of the two day, post-Thanksgiving break. Suggestions have been made that these could be overcome either by using the two days ahead of Thanksgiving (Thursday, Friday) or to extend the break to one week, as per the winter break. Those responsible for this project seem to be aware of these concerns but they did not indicate they would be making any changes. We would appreciate your input either on this or other issues relating to the break. For example, what was your experience of class attendance for the two days of the week following the Fall Break?

Please provide feedback in the comments section or by emailing

Memorandum of Agreement

If you are tenured or a continuing lecturer, you will have now completed your last evaluation process until 2019. At the risk of stating the obvious, you will still be reporting on your activities for 2017 and 2018 but you will not complete a report until January 2019. Some further MoA changes will be circulated before long. These are generally of a technical nature. The one that will most affect you relates to histograms of performance evaluation. In the future you will be receiving a breakdown by all three categories (teaching, research and service). Full explanations of the changes will be provided at the time of the vote.

University governance and policy projects

On December 21, an announcement was made by the University president that the combined function of university secretary and general counsel would be separated into two offices. A consequence of this has been some delay in the policy revision projects. Policy 33 (Ethical Behaviour) work continues and it is expected that the review of Policy 42 (Sexual Violence) will begin soon. Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) will begin its work again in March as will, most likely, the Policy 14 (Pregnancy and Parental leaves (including Adoption)) committee.

Surveys of student experience

We were all recently advised that the Course Evaluation Project Taskforce (CEPT) is currently reviewing the responses received to its draft report. The FAUW response is available on the FAUW website as is one from SWEC and a number of faculty members in the department of psychology. It remains a concern to FAUW just how many departments rely primarily – and in some cases solely – on student evaluations for the evaluation of teaching for annual performance evaluations and promotion and tenure given the very real concerns about the validity of these as measures of actual quality of teaching. FAUW has plans to help support the implementation of better practices for evaluating teaching over the year ahead. Note that the header used in this section follows FAUW’s recommended description for these exercises. The conclusion of the psychology experts and others is that it is inappropriate to expect students to be able to assess the quality of the teaching itself.

Other issues

  • FAUW has continued to work with the administration at the Faculty Relations Committee (FRC). You have all been notified about the provost’s new conflict of interest guidelines for hiring which were drafted jointly by FAUW and the administration. They take the form of a provostial guideline; these documents can be found on the Provost’s Office website and FAUW’s site
  • I would like to note that FAUW had no role in the provost’s recent announcement about business class travel, although I remain deeply jealous of anyone who has managed to pull this one off up until now!
  • Several hiring committees have either recently been struck or are about to be struck. I am FAUW’s representative on the committee to hire the university secretary and Dan Brown will be FAUW’s representative on the committee to hire a new registrar.
  • The Lecturers Committee published its report on the findings of its survey of all lecturers at the University of Waterloo administered in November 2015. 
  • If you are a new faculty member, please join us at another gathering either at noon or 4:00 on March 9. These are informal events at which you can meet fellow newcomers to UW and exchange experiences. Details will be posted to the FAUW website and emailed to new members soon.
  • The FAUW tenure and promotion workshop series will be held once more on April 4 and 5. These offer critical advice to those of you who are either untenured or are considering applying for promotion to full professor (See the FAUW Events page for details). 
  • FAUW will be introducing a new workshop to its series this Fall. In September there will be a workshop for all faculty members who have recently been tenured. More information will be available about this soon.
  • FAUW’s grievance with the administration was resolved to the satisfaction of the parties.


Federation of Students: Get Out the Vote!

From the Federation of Students 

Elections for student representatives in University of Waterloo’s student-led government are currently underway. The Federation of Students – the undergraduate student union since 1967 – would like to ask for your support in encouraging undergraduate students to vote.

In recent years, only a small portion of the entire undergraduate student population has come out to vote. According to Feds Research and Policy Officer Aaron Francis, Waterloo’s voter turnout has rarely been over 10 per cent in the last five years. Feds needs your help to spread the word about elections and help increase voter turnout.

Why is voting important?

Feds lobbies the government on behalf of undergraduate students; operates seven commercial services; oversees six student-run services; encompasses more than 200 clubs; and supports student societies – in addition to running day-to-day operations and special events.
Voting information

Information on elections, including candidate bios and platforms can be found at:
Voting opens February 13 at 10 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. on February 15. Students can vote at polling stations, online at, and through UW Portal.

Engaging students

Here’s how you can encourage student engagement:

  • Talk to your students at the beginning of class; announce when voting opens (Feb. 13) and give a reminder on the day voting closes (Feb. 15)
  • Add an elections slide to your class PowerPoint presentation
  • Put up election posters or share online 
  • Follow Federation of Students on Facebook and/or Twitter and share our posts about the election on your faculty social media account
  • Use #uwvotes to join the conversation online 
  • Share our elections information video on Facebook

The Federation of Students thanks you for your support in encouraging an engaged and informed undergraduate student body at University of Waterloo!

Did you Know that Central Pays for Pregnancy and Parental Leaves?

–Bryan Tolson, Vice President

The departmental economics surrounding Pregnancy and Parental leaves under Policy 14 are a mystery to most people on campus. Chairs and faculty members planning a leave each deserve to know the economics of a Policy 14 leave as they jointly discuss and plan for one. Until we can get a concise summary of key economic impacts into Policy 14 itself, here is what you need to know:

Central, not your department, covers the salary paid out to you from UW while you are on pregnancy/parental leave.

Let me say that a different way:

The unit paying your salary retains 100% of those funds when you are on pregnancy/parental leave.

Let me make this clear by showing you what happens in my Faculty (Engineering). Let’s pretend you are a female engineering faculty member taking a full year pregnancy/parental leave:

  • The budget transfer to your department for annual operating expenses includes your regular salary and this amount is not impacted by your leave plans.
  • Assuming you earn $100K, and you are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) in Canada, Policy 14 explains how your total income for the year on leave will work out to be $73.3K (trust me, keep reading—check the number later if you wish)
  • While you are on leave, your income comes from two sources:
    • EI income (paid to you directly from EI) for up to 55% of your salary ($55K)*
    • UW benefits, as defined in Policy 14, top up your income by providing an extra $18.3K. The UW Finance office transfers these top-up funds directly to your home department ($18.3K).
  • Note the cash flows in your department:
    • Department starts the year with funds to pay your salary (+$100K)
    • Department pays top-up funds out to you (-$18.3K)
    • Department receives top-up funds from UW Finance (+$18.3K)
  • The net impact is that your department is left with 100% of your salary ($100K) with which to replace you.

This is fundamental information everyone involved in Policy 14 leave-planning needs to understand: your leave does not hurt your department financially.

For example, consider determining the teaching load adjustment for you, the example female faculty member above, taking a year-long leave. In your case, due to the slight imprecision of birth date planning, your leave happens to span four terms (two terms completely and two partial terms). It would be reasonable (economically) for the Chair to compute your teaching load adjustment as if your official leave length was four full terms. I’ll let you work out just how reasonable this is under other Policy 14 leave lengths or under your unit’s normal teaching load. In the most general case, it will normally be reasonable (economically) for the Chair to round up fractional teaching task reductions they compute due to a Policy 14 leave.

I’ll close with some key questions the above discussion raises:

  • What happens in other Faculties? A bit unclear at the moment. What seems clear is that Central sends top-up funds somewhere. Tell us what you know.
  • What will happen in the new Waterloo Budget Model rolling out this Spring? FAUW is asking that very question. As a matter of equity for all of our faculty members, we believe that pregnancy and parental leaves must continue to be centrally funded. See also the 2012 UW Work-Life Balance report recommending the same thing (recommendations 3.1b and 4.1a).

When the Policy 14 review eventually commences, I will ensure these questions, and many more, will be addressed. In the meantime, FAUW looks forward to hearing about your experiences.

*EI has a maximum payment which may be less than 55% of your salary but the UW benefits (top-up) cover the balance to make sure your total income reaches 95% or 100% (depending on leave length/type – see Policy 14). So for the purposes of this example, it is not important if EI pays for 55% of your salary or something less than that.

What You Can Do About the Travel Ban

Practical things academics can do to help colleagues affected by the U.S. travel and immigration ban.

Last week, President Donald Trump issued a 90-day prohibition on entry to the U.S. by nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The same executive order blocks all refugee admissions for 120 days, with the exception of Syrian refugee admissions, which are suspended indefinitely.

Lawyers got to work, with mixed results. Some people from the seven countries have indeed been prevented from entering the U.S.; others have not. Suffice it to say that, for now, travel to the U.S. for nationals of those countries is very uncertain. And indeed, Muslims from countries other than the affected seven, as well as members of other marginalized groups, may well be wary about entering the U.S.

By now, you will likely have received communications from your professional organizations about how they’re responding to the ban. The Canadian Association of University Teachers, the Ontario Council of Faculty Associations, and University of Waterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur have all issued statements too.

Beyond such statements though, what practical measures can you take in response to the travel ban? Herewith, in no particular order, is an initial round-up of practical things you can do. If you have other ideas, please add a comment below this post. We’ll update the list as we receive your ideas.

Things to keep in mind

  • don’t presume that only people from the seven countries listed in the executive order are choosing not to travel to / leave the U.S.; many nationals from other countries are reluctant to plan visits to or travel away from the U.S. because they fear the next immigration order that might be coming;
  • don’t presume that colleagues or students will disclose their national origin / identity; given the current political climate, they may fear to do so, even in Canada;
  • remember that some individuals may be affected by the executive order without knowing it. In particular, the ban is not limited to passport holders of the seven countries. In some cases, marriage or parentage may determine who is affected.

Conferences, workshops, etc.

  • since loss of travel opportunities results in less networking, less prestige, less demonstrable engagement with wider groups of scholars, offer to workshop and celebrate the scholarship of affected colleagues in journals, blogs, and courses. Tell the scholars in question that you are doing this (and give the workshop a name so that the scholars can list it on their c.v.s); 
  • invite nationals of the seven affected countries (those who live outside the U.S.) to be speakers at academic events in Canada; 
  • organize conferences and workshops in Canada so that scholars from the seven affected countries (those living outside the U.S.) can attend; 
  • make sure that conferences and workshops have good tech options so that those unable to travel here can Skype in, or otherwise participate “virtually”; 
  • reschedule events until after the 90-day ban is over, at which time more colleagues living in the U.S. will (unless something changes) be able to travel. But remember that there may be future travel bans. Don’t count on the 90-day timeline being reliable; 
  • when choosing conferences for your research teams, make sure that they are in locations the entire team can travel to. (Put differently, if one of your grad students is Iranian, it might not be cool to bring your grad team to a conference in the U.S. because that student will be comparatively disadvantaged.); 
  • if you’re planning alternative conferences, etc. in Canada so that folks don’t have to go to the U.S., remember that lots of U.S. scholars will be excluded by this. Many of them don’t receive funds to attend out-of-state or international conferences. So, you may need to Skype them in, or provide them with stipends so that they can travel here; 
  • remember that the ban will prevent colleagues not only from travelling to/from the U.S., but also from travelling through it. For some colleagues, this may mean no more South American trips, etc.

Administrative supports (including hiring, tenure):

  • extend student application deadlines for prospective students from the affected countries;
  • create post-doc opportunities for nationals of the seven countries—the sooner the better; some prospective post-docs may right now be scrambling to replace planned, but no longer tenable, U.S. post-doc positions;
  • plan university events and issue media releases celebrating cultural, intellectual, scientific contributions of scholars from the seven countries;
  • seek out opportunities to co-author or otherwise collaborate with affected scholars; invite them to make contributions to larger publications;
  • establish and contribute to travel grant funds for nationals of the affected countries;
  • in hiring, remember that nationals of the seven countries currently living in the U.S. will not be able to do fly-in interviews in Canada for fear of not being re-admitted to the U.S. after the interview; make alternative arrangements so that they are not thereby disadvantaged in the competition;
  • in the future, when evaluating tenure and promotion files, graduate rankings, or similar from 2017, remember that nationals of the affected countries may have less research output from the period due to restrictions on their conference travel; take this into consideration fairly; 

Final thoughts

  • when colleagues from the affected countries tell you they are worried, ask how you can help. But resist offering unsolicited advice, and don’t tell them not to worry. This is a difficult time for them, and their concerns are justified; don’t dismiss them.
  • If FAUW can help in any way, let us know. 

FAUW hopes that this advice is helpful beyond the University of Waterloo. Please feel free to adapt, share, and use this post.

It Goes Without Saying

A message from the Status of Women & Equity Committee

In the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, and in response to the initial executive orders (including the executive order which denies U.S. entry to all refugees for 120 days, citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen face a 90 day visa suspension, and Syrian refugees are denied entry indefinitely) many institutions, organizations and individuals have made statements condemning discriminatory and divisive statements, and supporting equity and diversity. January 21, Women’s Marches in Washington and world wide organized in protest of the proposed legislative changes. This week, University of Waterloo community members gathered to express sorrow, support, and join in prayers in response to the shooting at the Grande Mosquée de Québec.

It goes without saying that the Status of Women and Equity Committee supports equity and inclusivity.

Except it doesn’t go without saying. It shouldn’t. We should say it, clearly and repeatedly.

We won’t always say it in a timely manner, and we won’t always say it perfectly. We won’t always use the best words, or speak with great eloquence. But we should and will say it.

We support equity and inclusivity. We value and celebrate diversity, across all measures and intersections of identity. We will fight against discrimination in all its forms. We stand in solidarity with our fellow community members. And we are not alone.

Le Comité du statut de la femme et de l’équité de l’Université de Waterloo tient à adresser ses sincères condoléances aux familles des victimes et exprime son soutien et son entière solidarité aux blessés touchés par cette tragédie. The Status of Women and Equity Committee of the University of Waterloo send our sincerest condolences to the families of the victims and express our support and wholehearted solidarity to the wounded touched by this tragedy.