This April 1 Board meeting report is no joke

Here’s the latest from the FAUW president and Board of Directors, based on our April 1 meeting, which did not involve any April Fools pranks, but did feature a brief birthday celebration!

President’s report to FAUW board 

-dan brown, March 29, 2021

I am somewhat hopeful that we’re entering a somewhat smoother time in the next few weeks than we had in what has to be one of the longest winter terms in history. Whatever your spring activity is, whether it’s gardening or cycling or just sitting outside watching the sun set, I hope you’ll get a chance to enjoy it in April.

FAUW board elections are under way! At the AGM on April 16, we’ll find out which four candidates have won election to the At-Large seats, and which one candidate has won election to the Lecturer seat on our board. I’m delighted to see the large slate of excellent candidates that have come forward, and look forward to working with all of them, either on our board or in other FAUW service. My thanks to the FAUW Elections Committee (Peter Johnson, Heidi Engelhardt, Amanda Garcia, Nomair Naeem, Laura McDonald) for their excellent work in recruiting candidates!

FAUW’s Lecturers Committee hosts a town hall on March 30 (I’m writing this on March 29). I’m expecting in particular to hear a lot about Lecturers’ concerns regarding Policy 76 and Policy 77, which will be useful for the members of the committee developing the changes to that policy.

The issue of the day continues to be planning for fall term. I encourage FAUW members who will need accommodations for that term (including because their health conditions might require them to avoid in-person teaching) to contact our AF+T committee and work with them to get those accommodations put in place. The administration has said some good things about ensuring a safe workplace for all employees for that term, but there are few details. That said, the whole situation around the end of the pandemic is deeply complicated, and is not helped by there still being shortages of the vaccines needed.

Of course, spring term instructors are just as exercised by planning for that term as well, and I hope you’ll at least have some of a gap before spring term starts. 

LAAUW, the Librarians and Archivists Association of UW, held a vote in March to identify whether its members wanted to join FAUW. Their members decided that they prefer their current status [as staff members]. FAUW will continue to liaise with LAAUW on matters of shared interest (academic freedom, scholarly publishing and open access, research metrics, to name a few). I’m delighted to know that they’ve made a decision about their preferred futures. As I said back in the fall when Erin Windibank and I met with them, time with librarians is always time well spent.

Highlights from the Board discussion

Here’s what we talked about during the meeting:

  1. 2021-22 Budget. This budget will be presented at the General Meeting on April 16. We’ll see a few deviations from normal again this year: Event spending will be low again next year, though we did budget for possible in-person events in winter term. We’ve budgeted to set up our main meeting room in MC for remote in-person/hybrid meetings and for a webcam so we can livestream general meetings moving forward. We are also increasing our contribution to the CAUT Academic Freedom Fund, which helps faculty associations to “defend academic freedom when a case requires extraordinary resources.” We have two years left (including 2021-22) in our 10-year commitment to the on-campus daycare, the Bright Starts Co-operative Early Learning Centre.
  2. Fall term planning. We heard from Board members in each faculty about how things are shaping up for fall term, and talked about the need to make sure that the administration understands the stress and anxiety that faculty are feeling. We aren’t seeing a lot of concrete information out of most Faculties so far, but we know that at least one is making an effort to avoid having instructors “double teach” hybrid courses, with some students in person and some online in the same section. Instead, in-person and online course sections will have separate instructors. We are especially concerned about people only getting one teaching credit for doing double duty. At least some departments are trying to make sure people teach the same classes in 2021-22 as last year, to reduce the burden on instructors.

    The university is aiming to have 17 classrooms outfitted for livestreaming by fall 2021 (this is an increase from 4 rooms in fall 2020). Instructors will need to be trained in the technology before using the rooms.
  1. Bibliometrics consultation. Laura Bredahl, bibliometrics and research impact librarian, is looking for individuals to participate in stakeholder consultations re: research information needs as part of a project reviewing myResearch (Pure) at the University. Our Equity Committee will participate and if anyone else wants to provide feedback, please contact Dan Brown.
  2. FAUW Appreciation Awards. The FAUW Appreciation Award recognizes people from across the University who have gone above and beyond to improve the lives of faculty members. We did not confer an award last year, but we’ve selected someone for this year. Stay tuned for a public announcement!
  3. IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. The Board voted to put a motion on the Spring General Meeting agenda for the Association to endorse a statement that both rejects antisemitism and expresses concern that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Antisemitism, which the provincial government has proposed to enact into Ontario law, poses a serious threat to academic freedom.
  4. Lecturers town hall. About 75 members attended the Lecturers Committee’s town hall meeting on March 30, including guests from the Policy 76/77 Drafting Committee. A full report from the event (including preliminary results from the recent lecturer survey) will be out soon.

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