What Indigenous students want faculty to know

Last month, I had the opportunity to sit down with three Indigenous students at the University of Waterloo to hear what they would like faculty members to know about their experiences as Indigenous students in higher education.

Kiel Harris (Gitxsan/Gitanyow) is a third-year student in Planning who grew up in northern British Columbia on two different reserves. Kiel had already completed a college diploma before coming to Waterloo and is, therefore, older than many in his cohort. Kelsey Hewitt (Anishnaabe/Lac Seul First Nation) is a third-year student in Geography and Environmental Management who grew up in Kitchener-Waterloo. Kelsey also identifies as a mature student, having not started university straight out of high school. Finally, Anika McAlpine (Cree/Moose Cree First Nation) is a first-year student in Medicinal Chemistry who grew up off-reserve in northern Ontario, in a community that has a large Indigenous population.

Our conversation was broad and far-reaching, touching on challenges related to creating a visible Indigenous space on campus, concerns about implicit bias if students declare their Indigeneity to their professors, and the transitional issues Indigenous students from remote communities might face.

In this blog post, I focus on the students’ ideas about what faculty members can do right now to support Indigenization and Indigenous students in their classrooms. I’ve organized their thoughts chronologically, beginning with the first day of class and carrying through to final assessments.

Continue reading “What Indigenous students want faculty to know”

People You Should Know: Lori Curtis, Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee

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. 

We’re kicking off this series with Lori Curtis. Lori is the new chair of the Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee (AF&T), which helps faculty members at Waterloo with a wide range of workplace questions and problems. We sat down for an interview in her office in November.

This is Lori Curtis, Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee chair

FAUW: Lori, What is the Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee?

Lori: It’s senior faculty members who can act as an academic colleague for other faculty—a peer who knows the academic situation that you’re in. They can attend meetings with you, help you work through issues, or just listen.

We get a lot of questions on tenure, promotion, and contract renewal. We also, unfortunately, talk to faculty who are having issues with other faculty members.

What do you bring to this role?

I have an eclectic background. I used to be a nurse, I’ve worked in government, and in a couple of universities. I’ve worked in both unionized and non-unionized environments so I can talk people through the difference between us and a unionized organization.

I think I bring a bit of logic to academia. Sometimes academics haven’t worked outside the university environment, and I don’t want to say they don’t quite understand the real world, but sometimes they don’t quite understand the real world. I also bring a bit of experience with mental health work.

Continue reading “People You Should Know: Lori Curtis, Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee”

Double Recap: General Meeting and December 6 Board Meeting

December 4 general meeting

Missed the general meeting? Here’s a quick recap, excluding items covered in previous blog posts. See the general meeting slides (PDF) and the agenda package (PDF) for more details.

  1. We had an inquisitive group of about 60 faculty members who ate a lot of pizza and not a lot of raw veggies (not judging; we love pizza).
  2. We’ve had a few changes to the budget since you saw it in April. Some of the new expenses are: giving the Renison Association of Academic Staff an interest-free loan and startup funding, helping fund a bike cage on campus, and upping our sponsorship of the Centre for Teaching Excellence conference breakfast. We’re still expecting a decent surplus.
  3. Members approved our audited financial statements for May–April 2018 (the mini-fiscal year that got us onto the same fiscal year as the University) and adopted RLB as our auditors for next year.
  4. The Elections Committee announced winter 2019 elections: four at-large representatives, one representative from AHS, and one lecturer representative. As per our new elections procedures (announced on the blog and posted online in September), members can only run for one seat at a time. Remember that you need to be a voting member to run or vote in FAUW elections.
  5. Members approved the service agreement with the Renison Association of Academic Staff, making their members affiliate members of FAUW.
  6. George Freeman gave his take on the themes that emerged at the University’s strategic plan consultations. Check out the slides for a list.
  7. We heard your feedback on the Freedom of Speech policy. We’ve summarized and forwarded this to the Secretariat and they are incorporating at least some of it. If you want to give more feedback or see a revised draft, you can meet with the University President and representatives from the Secretariat in the Senate room (NH 3407) at 3:30 on Monday, December 17.

December 6 board meeting

At our last board meeting of 2018, we talked about:

  1. How graduate teaching is counted. To no one’s surprise, there’s some inconsistency across campus on this front. But we just confirmed at FRC that teaching a stand-alone lecture-based graduate course counts toward your workload. Make sure you’re getting teaching credit for these courses! And if you’re teaching overload, make sure that’s being tracked and made up for later. In other words: Don’t teach for free.
  2. Appointment letters. Again. Ninety percent of faculty associations receive copies of their members’ appointment letters. This helps them advise members on negotiating a starting salary, startup funds, and anything else that’s negotiable. We can’t advise prospective faculty right now, because we don’t have any data. We don’t even know what’s negotiable in every department. While we’re working on getting at least some of that information, we’re going to start asking new faculty directly if they’re willing to share copies of their letters, and we will also send a request to all new faculty from the last five years. If you’re willing to share your own, we’d be happy to add it to our data set! You can send it to Erin Windibank at windibae@uwaterloo.ca. We will of course keep your letter confidential.
  3. Lecturer eligibility for DTPC and FTPC. The Lecturers Committee is wondering why Policy 77 (Tenure and Promotion of Faculty Members) excludes lecturers from serving on and even voting on the makeup of departmental and faculty tenure and promotion committees, considering that these committees grant/deny continuing status to lecturers. Our take on this is that the policy pre-dates the existence of modern lecturer appointments and is out of date. We know that some departments and Faculties are following the spirit, rather than the letter, of the policy, and do include lecturers. We are hopeful that Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments, which is nearing the end of its review process) can provide an interim solution to this problem.

What you should know about the Ontario University Pension Plan (video)

The University Pension Plan (UPP) is Ontario’s new multi-employer pension plan for university employees. It has been developed by a consortium that includes the Council of Ontario Universities (representing employers), OCUFA, CUPE and other employee representative groups. Three universities—Queen’s, Toronto, and Guelph—are lined up to be the first participants, with a transfer from their current plans scheduled for 2019. If those transfers proceed smoothly, it is likely that other universities will be encouraged to join the UPP in the future.

On November 16, FAUW hosted Professor Mary Hardy (Statistics and Actuarial Science) for a talk in which she described and critiqued the UPP in terms of affordability, risk, fairness, and adequacy, and reviewed the case for and against membership of the UPP from the perspective of UW (and Laurier) pension plan members and retirees.

We’re happy to make a video of the talk and the slides available to help inform our members and other university employees.

Continue reading “What you should know about the Ontario University Pension Plan (video)”

Highlights from the November 22 Board Meeting

This meeting was a bit of a preview of issues likely to come up at our Fall General Meeting on Tuesday, December 4. What’s a general meeting? Well, to start, it’s a great opportunity for you to speak with the FAUW board about issues that concern you, and for the board to report back to you what we’ve been doing this term. General meetings are also where we vote on association matters like financial statements, budgets, and constitution changes. We hope you’ll be able to join us on Tuesday.

In the meantime, here’s what we discussed at the November 22 meeting, including the lecturer salary working group, holistic benefits review, and breakfast!

Continue reading “Highlights from the November 22 Board Meeting”

Behind the Scenes of AccessAbility Services’ Exam Centre

Hello faculty members! It’s Jennifer Gillies here, the associate director of AccessAbility Services. In my last blog post for FAUW, I talked about the general operations of AccessAbility Services. This time, I’m going to share some ‘behind the scenes’ information about our Exam Centre.

Why is there an AccessAbility Services Exam Centre?

AccessAbility Services’ Exam Centre is both a student and faculty service. The Exam Centre enables students to write tests with their approved accommodations, without requiring faculty to facilitate the accommodations themselves. Accommodations such as securing scribes, purchasing and setting up assistive technology, monitoring supervised breaks, providing additional writing time, and securing rooms that have natural light or ergonomic furniture can be difficult to coordinate, so our office is here to help.

Who writes in the Exam Centre?

AccessAbility Services provides academic accommodations and support to approximately 2,500 students, almost all of whom receive testing accommodations. The Exam Centre facilitates approximately 6,000 tests a term, for students with a variety of disabilities.

Where do students write their tests?

A student writing a test with AccessAbility Services will be scheduled to write in one of five locations, based on factors in their accommodation (e.g., the need for a scribe or natural lighting). Continue reading “Behind the Scenes of AccessAbility Services’ Exam Centre”

11 things we talked about at the November 8 Board meeting

We think it’s important that our members know what we’re doing on your behalf. So we report on the non-confidential business from every Board meeting here on our blog.

The November 8 meeting covered the status of policy 76, the free speech policy, weekend teaching, new faculty representatives on University committees, and more. Here are 11 things you might want to know about:

  1. The University will be creating a G-class policy to meet the Ontario government’s free speech requirements. FAUW does not have a role in the development of G policies, but we will keep you posted as much as we can.
  2. The Board and administration are talking about exceptional circumstances that might warrant hiring people specifically for weekend or overseas teaching, and how we might keep tabs on such hires.
  3. Members of the Renison Association of Academic Staff are voting this week on a service agreement between RAAS and FAUW, which outlines the membership dues that RAAS will pay to FAUW and the services and supports that RAAS and its members will receive in return. If they approve it, our members will vote on it at our general meeting on December 4.
  4. The Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP) has been running for two years. High usage and largely positive feedback have confirmed the need for the program. We’re also hearing that people want more long-term services within the program, which is currently designed to offer short-term solutions. The utilization rate is almost 17%, which is considerably higher than the expected 10%. We have requested information about how this might affect the cost if the contract is extended next year (which it likely will be). If you would like to share feedback about the program, please comment below or send it to Katie Damphouse.
  5. We announced in our last post that we’re looking into arranging for new faculty members to access medical services on campus. We’ll be surveying members hired in the last few years soon to help us make the case for this.

Continue reading “11 things we talked about at the November 8 Board meeting”