UW responds to the climate crisis

From paper straws to the “Green New Deal” to the arrival of Greta Thunberg in North America, the climate crisis is a regular topic in the national and international media. But you might not know how UWaterloo is responding. Here’s a high-level overview about the status of the University’s responsible investing commitments, a faculty member’s role in the City of Kitchener declaring a climate emergency, and the September 27 global climate strike.

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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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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.

Service Opportunities for Lecturers

Brought to you by the FAUW Lecturers Committee.

Lecturer appointments at Waterloo usually include a service component of anywhere from 20% to 60%. This blog post will address some of the questions lecturers have about navigating this element of their job.

Why should I bother with service?

Service is assessed in your performance review. It is important to seek service opportunities not only because the service you do is directly related to the merit score you receive at the end of the year, but also because it is directly related to the success of the shared governance of the University. In order to be fairly represented, lecturers must be part of the decision-making process. The best way to do that is by serving not only within your department but across your Faculty and the University.

How do I find out what service opportunities are available?

If you’re not sure where to start in finding service opportunities, we recommend you speak to your chair, who may be able to identify needs at least at the department level.

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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.

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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.

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Your Dental Benefits are Increasing in January

The Board is pleased to announce upcoming changes to your benefits. Here’s Alan Macnaughton, Pension and Benefits Committee liaison to the FAUW Board with the details. 

The University Board of Governors has approved dental plan enhancements effective January 1, 2019.

The 2018–21 salary settlement between the University and FAUW provided funds for an approximately 15% increase in the amount the University spends on health and dental plans combined for non-retired faculty members. The negotiations for other employee groups provided for a similar increase. This was a precedent-setting negotiations outcome; we’ve never negotiated an increase in benefits funding before.

Following procedure, the University’s Pension and Benefits Committee was responsible for deciding how to spend the money. The settlement provided only that the funds should be directed to areas with “broad participation.” The Committee decided on dental plan enhancements, and on October 30, the Board of Governors ratified this decision. The new rules apply to anyone covered by the dental plan, not just faculty (UW has the same pension and benefits plan for all employees).

What’s changing

The most important component of our dental plan is the coverage of basic costs—preventative treatments such as regular oral examinations, x-rays, fillings, extractions, root canals, and periodontal scaling. Presently, the plan reimburses 80% of the cost of these expenses as set out in the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) fee guide from two years ago (to a maximum of $2,193 per covered person). With the plan enhancement, coverage will be based on 95% of the ODA’s current fee guide. This is effective for treatments starting in January 2019. Continue reading “Your Dental Benefits are Increasing in January”