On June 6, in relation to a matter with a faculty member that prompted a public outcry and media response, the University of Waterloo told the press that “The University of Waterloo unequivocally believes that there is no place for the use of the N-word in class, on campus or in our community.”
At the June 15 meeting of University of Waterloo’s Senate, we heard from UWaterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur that the University would revise and reissue this statement, but we still feel it is important to release our response, originally written prior to this announcement at Senate. At the time we are publishing this response, the University’s June 6 statement is still online in its original form.
FAUW is deeply concerned about the harm that racialized students, colleagues, and community members experience because of racist language. We are also concerned about the chilling effect that the University’s statement will have on University of Waterloo scholars, especially on Black, Indigenous, and other racialized scholars who research and teach about race and racism. Indeed, we are aware that at least two local Black scholars have also expressed this concern to the University in the last week.
FAUW strongly opposes the prohibition implied by the University’s statement. Whether a word is appropriate for use in class is a scholarly decision that instructors must be free to make. In particular, instructors who teach about race and racism must be free, according to their best judgement, to lead unvarnished discussions about racist language.
FAUW President Bryan Tolson made the following statement at the June 15 Senate meeting:
FAUW’s job, in this pandemic and always, is to advocate for our members’ best interests and protect our members’ rights. In the current situation, that means persistently asking tough questions of administrators to make sure your interests and concerns are adequately considered in pandemic decision making.
Unfortunately, FAUW is not being formally consulted about pandemic-related decisions. President Hamdullahpur said at the May Senate meeting that the Integrated Co-ordination and Planning Committee (ICPC) is “constantly” in touch with the Faculty Association. Our members deserve to understand precisely what this means. FAUW requested engagement with the ICPC; specifically, we asked to participate in two of the three working groups in a non-voting capacity. Instead we are getting partial verbal updates from one—the academic working group. I get an update roughly once every two or three working group meetings (which is still multiple updates per week). I then must consult very quickly with one or more of the FAUW Executive team to provide written feedback to the working group chair in support of FAUW members’ interests. In addition, we bring many of the same issues to Faculty Relations Committee, which continues to meet biweekly.
To be as transparent as possible, we are now more explicitly sharing (on our COVID-19 page) the specific questions we are posing so you know what we’re discussing before we get answers. We hope some of you will reiterate anything you feel is important in your own discussions across our virtual campus.
—Bryan Tolson, FAUW President
Here are some of our open questions. We will add more to the COVID-19 page on our website as we ask them.
Our Board meeting summary posts are back! Tune in every two weeks to find out what the FAUW Board of Directors is doing for you. Subscribe to get the posts right away.
FAUW’s priorities for 2019-2020
These are the key items we’re aiming to get through this year, in addition to preparing for negotiations at the end of 2020 and inevitably weighing in on more proposals from the provincial government.
Policy development: Improvements and clarity around the policy drafting process, better supporting our representatives on policy drafting committees, and getting a few policies into (if not through) the approval process. Candidates are the policies on ethical behaviour (33), parental leave (14), accommodations (57, new), and faculty appointments (76).
Conflict of interest guidelines: See item #3 from the September 12 Board meeting below.
Workload: We want to see clear and consistent definitions (and monitoring) of how teaching and other faculty work is counted across campus.
Representation: We plan to issue position statements on our relationship with research professors and sessional instructors.
September 12 Board of Directors meeting
Here’s what was on the agenda on September 12, the first meeting of the 2019–20 academic year. We welcome your input on any of these topics!
FAUW sent a written submission to the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) on July 31 regarding proposed MTCU regulations that would reduce the salary of university sector employees who are collecting a pension.
The proposed changes discriminate on the basis of age.
The net savings to either the University or the province are not clearly established.
Many scholars over age 71 provide more funding and jobs through their research programs than would be freed up by their retirement.
Because university faculty start their careers later, they cannot be compared against other sectors on the basis of retirement age.
The regulations would disproportionately disadvantage women and members of other equity-seeking groups whose career advancement is often further delayed.
The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has a higher percentage of sitting MPPs age 71 or older than the University of Waterloo has of faculty age 71 or older.
Thank you to the many members who provided feedback on this issue and shaped our response, included in full below.
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.
At Waterloo, the provincial government pays only 1/3 of our salaries!
Pensions are simply deferred compensation, and, roughly speaking, half of the pension we collect at Waterloo comes from our own contributions.
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).
Any Canadian employee working at age 71 or older is forced by federal law to start taking their pension.
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.
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.
Something was also a little off about the FAUW executive officers that day…
But hey, there was candy!
The actual meeting
Reports from visitors
After this bizarre delay, the meeting began with an update from Fatma Gzara on the progress of the the Complementary Teaching Assessment Project Team (CTAPT). CTAPT was tasked with “researching and developing methods of assessing teaching and learning complementary to Student Course Perception surveys.” Fatma told us that CTAPT has hired a researcher to review the literature and how teaching is assessed at other universities, the U15 in particular.
We had two visitors to start this meeting. First, Jasmin Habib provided an update on the Course Evaluation Project Team’s implementation phase (CEPT2), in light of the recent Ryerson decision on the use of student evaluations in tenure and promotion decisions. Given that there is another project team exploring other ways of measuring teaching quality and performance (e.g., peer evaluation), CEPT2’s position, as reported at Senate on September 17, is that Waterloo is ahead of the curve and is already working to ameliorate some of the concerns raised by the decision at Ryerson. The issue of addressing bias remains contentious. The group has nearly completed a prototype and are preparing to test it. FAUW will keep an eye on the test process to ensure it doesn’t disadvantage any vulnerable faculty.
Sebastian Siebel-Achenbach then joined us to give an update from the OCUFA (Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations) Contract Faculty and Faculty Complement Committee. He wants to raise some awareness and support for CAUT’s upcoming Fair Employment Week and OCUFA’s Fairness for Contract Faculty campaign, in light of the growing informalization of teaching and other kinds of professorial work in Canada. So check those links out.
We had a short discussion about the timeline and communication around proposed changes to our dues structure. These changes, if adopted by the membership, will bring FAUW in line with the conventions of other faculty associations, and alleviate some of the existing inequalities in the existing structure. More information about the proposal is available on our website. Voting members will receive an email with the details next week and a link to the online ballot on October 15. Voting will be open from October 15 to 19.
We spent some time reviewing responses from our members to the Faith Goldy event that did not go ahead earlier this year, in light of the Ontario government’s recent mandate that universities issue a free speech policy. Most responses supported our position on the event, which was issued on April 23rd and emphasized the association’s support of immigrant and non-Canadian members.
The Board appointed Mathieu Doucet as the new FAUW representative on the University Advisory Committee on Traffic Violations and Parking. We would like to see the committee expand its mandate to include active transportation and are confident that Mathieu will be a passionate advocate for this.
We ended, as always, with a review of upcoming events, including the campus tour on Thursday, the Council of Representatives meeting on October 17, a workshop on university governance November 9, and a talk by Mary Hardy on November 16 about the joint university pension plan being developed for University of Toronto, University of Guelph, and Queen’s University employees.
—FAUW President Bryan Tolson with an update on what we’re working on right now and what’s coming up this year.
Welcome to a new academic year! I hope you all took some time off this summer. FAUW is gearing up for a new academic year and I want to quickly fill you in on the array of things we are working on—and to highlight two items that are timely for you to consider putting some thought into.
Performance evaluation addenda
First off, we are quickly approaching the deadline (October 15) for each department and school to update its Addendum to their Faculty Performance Evaluation Guidelines. One quick example of why this might be useful: FAUW thinks this is a reasonable place for departments to specify how teaching tasks are counted and/or what the normal teaching loads are for both tenured/ tenure-track faculty and lecturers in your department.