What the Okanagan Charter means for Waterloo faculty

Dan Brown, FAUW Treasurer

In October, 2018, President Hamdullahpur signed the Okanagan Charter at a mental health forum about the status of the 36 recommendations of the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH) report. At our general meeting in April, we heard from Campus Wellness about some of the ways the Charter is being implemented (download the general meeting slides).

Let’s dig a little deeper into what the Charter is and how it might affect faculty at Waterloo.

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FAUW’s response to so-called “double dipping” legislation (updated)

– Bryan Tolson, FAUW President

“The Ford government is giving itself the power to force post-secondary institutions to reduce the pay of any employees who are also receiving a college or university pension.”

CBC News, April 15

I hope you are all excitedly preparing for a nice holiday weekend with family and/or friends. I am trying to, but this news story, “Ford government stopping university, college profs from ‘double-dipping,’” is getting in my way. Lines like “this includes the power to reduce pay to zero” make me pretty unhappy. Then some of the comments on the story make me just plain grumpy. (For those interested in the legal details, the story refers to the language in Bill 100, pages 116-17.)

This new (proposed) legislation is a serious escalation in the public relations battle the Ford government has decided to wage against Ontario faculty. Any guesses what the Ford government thinks about sabbaticals or tenure? With that in mind, we need to defend ourselves and our profession, and we need your help to do that. Here are four talking points you can use in conversations with your family and friends this weekend and beyond.

  1. At Waterloo, the provincial government pays only 1/3 of our salaries!
  2. Pensions are simply deferred compensation, and, roughly speaking, half of the pension we collect at Waterloo comes from our own contributions. 
  3. The average starting age of faculty at Waterloo is somewhere between 35-40 years old. Think about what that means in terms of the pension implications of such a late career start (not to mention the wait-time to start collecting a career salary).
  4. Any Canadian employee working at age 71 or older is forced by federal law to start taking their pension.
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Update on UCOI class sizes memo

FAUW wishes to update the membership about a matter that is currently in progress. On February 20, the Provost issued a memo to various administrators about increasing class sizes from 25 to 40 for Undergraduate Communications Outcomes Initiative (UCOI) courses taught by English or Communication Arts as stand-alone courses, effective as soon as possible. That’s a 60% increase.  

For those unfamiliar with UCOI, these are the courses that were recently created to replace the English Language Proficiency Exam (ELPE).

FAUW has heard from its members in affected units (both those offering the courses and those in other Faculties whose students take them) that they are deeply concerned about the following, among other, issues:

  • the lack of consultation with academic units and instructors prior to issuing the memo;
  • the increase in workload that instructors will experience as a consequence of the increased class sizes;
  • the risk that some definite-term positions created for the purpose of offering these courses will not be renewed;
  • pedagogically, the impossibility of delivering the courses’ intended learning outcomes with larger class sizes.

FAUW is concerned about unilateral changes to faculty terms and conditions of employment. We are also concerned that the process in this case seems to violate some aspects of Policy 40 (“The Chair”) and Policy 45 (“The Dean of a Faculty”).

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People You Should Know: Amanda Cook, Sexual Violence Prevention and Response

Our “People You Should Know” blog series interviews key people and offices at the University of Waterloo so you can make the most of their services. 

Amanda Cook is the Director, Sexual Violence Prevention and Response at Waterloo. She supports all students, staff, and faculty on campus who have experienced, or been impacted by, sexual violence.

Why might faculty members be interested in your role?

For a couple of different reasons. If there are any faculty members who have survived sexual violence and would like to talk about resources that are available to them, any workplace accommodations that I can help facilitate, or any other way that I can support them—whatever that individual needs or wants—I am available for them.

And I also support faculty who receive disclosures. Sometimes it’s just to consult about something that they’ve become aware of, and sometimes they’re seeking to share information with or accompany a person who’s come forward to them.

What advice do you have for faculty who’ve had a student disclose an experience to them?

At the end of the day, it’s about meeting the person wherever they’re at and trying our hardest not to make it about ourselves. In an effort to be caring and compassionate, whether we’re conscious of it or not, we bring a bias about what we think a person should do, or what we would do in the same situation. The important thing is engaging in active listening and seeing what that person needs and then trying to bridge them to another support that can provide the safety or the resources they might need.

A lot of times folks minimize how much they’re impacted by caring about other people, but the stress that causes sits with you. That’s normal and there are supports for you.

What’s the most important thing you want faculty to know?

I think a lot of times folks minimize how much they’re impacted by caring about other people, but the stress that causes, trying to coordinate and figure stuff out for students, it sits with you for a while. Even if the student’s not doing anything, you as a holder of that information might have some difficulty moving forward. So just know that that’s normal and there are supports for you if you need that.

Also that there is no wrong question. I’ve had faculty just consult with me about what they could tell somebody if they come forward, hypothetically. I’m happy to work within hypotheticals.

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An opportunity to support the Wet’suwet’en people

A message from FAUW’s Indigenization Working Group:

In recent weeks, hundreds of scholars from around the world have signed on to an open letter expressing support for BC’s Wet’suwet’en people and calling on the Canadian Government and the RCMP to cease pipeline work on Unist’ot’en Territory. Read the letter here. If you so choose, you can add your voice as a scholar.

Note: the Indigenization Working Group is an ad hoc committee of FAUW. Its support of the open letter should not be construed as FAUW’s position. Visit our website to learn more about the working group and about Indigenization at Waterloo.

The FAUW Board: A great way to get started in collegial governance

Is there anything you would change at Waterloo?

It’s possible: Despite their long history, universities aren’t immune to change. Digital technologies have fundamentally altered how people relate to factual information. Being resistant to commoditization, our teaching and research costs are mostly in personnel. Increasingly, research spans disciplinary boundaries and is collaborative. Global problems, especially with the environment, are becoming local and urgent. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission charges us to better include Indigenous scholars and ways of knowing. The ever-growing body of scholarship on teaching and learning gives evidence as to how university teaching should evolve.

The university is always adapting and responding to challenges like these. Participation in the distinctive university apparatus called collegial governance affords faculty members influence in that process.

How collegial governance works at Waterloo

The University of Waterloo is organized on a bicameral model. Loosely, this means that our Board of Governors looks after the institution as a nonprofit corporation with an annual cash flow of about a billion dollars, and our Senate looks after the institution as an educational community of about 40,000 scholars (faculty, students, many staff).

It’s not a total separation of interests, however. To manage finances and risk, our Board must know the higher-education sector, its value and values, its trends, and Waterloo’s distinctive roles in it. To manage academic programs and policies, our Senate must promote academic initiatives that show an attractive cost-benefit and risk-reward tradeoff. Tensions are part of the model: autonomy versus dependence, academic freedom versus responsibility, individual versus group ambitions, etc.

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People You Should Know: Charmaine Dean, VP Research & International

Our “People You Should Know” blog series interviews key people and offices at the University of Waterloo so you can make the most of their services. 

Charmaine Dean, VP Research and International

Charmaine Dean is Waterloo’s Vice President, Research & International. She started at Waterloo in 2017 and is responsible for two distinct offices—the Office of Research and Waterloo International.

Research & International is a big portfolio—what does your role involve?

The Office of Research encompasses a number of portfolios, including commercialization, ethics, grants and prestigious awards, centres and institutes, and large research programs such as FedDev and Canada Research Chairs.

I am also responsible for several new portfolios, including interdisciplinary research, and equity, diversity and inclusion in research. In addition, I am the first point of research-related contact for external communities including the Tri-Agencies; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED); and ministers’ offices.

Half of my time is spent on internally facing initiatives and issues, while the other half is allocated to externally facing needs. I sit on 20 Boards of Directors (as Chair for six of the boards) related to research initiatives at Waterloo, as well as a number of boards, councils, committees, and advisory groups for partners and government, and some related to my research.

Waterloo International encompasses international agreements and partnerships; international experiences for faculty, staff, and students, and building a strong international profile.

Why might faculty be interested in your role?

One of the key elements of my role is to ensure that research at Waterloo is understood and supported by government and industry. Part of my mandate is to drive research forward within Canada in order to guide policy, as well as to continue building a profile for Waterloo research internationally. For faculty, I would like them to know that my door is always open to hear about their research and successes, and to help ensure their work leads to valuable impact.

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