Join the FAUW Climate Justice Working Group on the National Day of Action for a Just Transition towards a sustainable future (Huron Natural Area, March 12, 2-4 pm)
—Altay Coskun for the Climate Justice Working Group
More than two years into the pandemic and two weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is difficult for climate action to make top headlines. But thanks to the heroism of the Ukrainian botanist Yakiv Didukh, the latest conference of the International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) aroused unexpected attention. He attended remotely from Kyiv and thus dropped out when required to retreat into the bomb shelters during Russian attacks, but returned to finalize his task on the final report. The Ukrainian delegation is quoted (by Reuters) to have “expressed how upset they are that this will distract from the importance of our report.” But perhaps it is rather the other way round: their courageous action will expose how shallow our own commitment to a swift and just transition has been all along. We can do better; we must do better. In Canada, we are blessed that we can explore adequate climate action and the facets of climate justice in a peaceful environment. This also means we have fewer excuses.
On February 28, 2022, the IPCC reported on “Impact, Adaptation and Vulnerability” (Sixth Assessment Cycle Report II) to the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres. The report is available in multiple formats, to allow for differing levels of understanding (I recommend the FAQs version for non-specialists such as myself). The scientific evidence for human-made climate change and the devastating effects on our planet have never been presented with more accuracy or with a higher level of urgency. The current commitments by nearly all states fail to meet the challenge described in previous IPCC reports. Even worse, those earlier reports were built on assumptions about the pace of climate change that, so we are now told, were much too optimistic.
One may doubt, however, that more scientific data will be the game changer. Most of us do not have a deficit of understanding, but one of justice and courage. Indeed, the notion of justice is ever more often evoked in political and scientific declarations relating to climate change. It played a significant role in the 2015 Paris Agreement. In the run-up to the federal elections of 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to pass a Just Transition Act, for which we are still waiting.
Here are the updates from the June 3, 2021, FAUW Board of Directors meeting.
Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) change
On June 1, the University Board of Governors approved an update to Policy 76 that changes the threshold for which appointments need to go through UARC—it will now review appointments “longer than two years,” rather than “two years or longer.” As we reported last time, this will remove the primary reason for two-years-minus-one-day appointments. We asked the deans to add an extra day to all two-years-minus-one-day appointments and have heard from three that they are doing so. Two faculties don’t have any such appointments, and the sixth is discussing the issue further but we expect that to be resolved soon.
This extra day comes with significantly improved benefits, including dental coverage, better sick leave, long-term disability coverage, access to the Employee & Family Assistance Program, eligibility for the new pregnancy and parental leave policy, and tuition benefits under Policy 4 (for employees) and Policy 24 (for employees’ children). It can also have implications for retirement benefits eligibility.
We’re excited that the University equity survey will be going out soon. We encourage you to participate in it. This survey is what will provide the Salary Anomaly Working Group with the data needed to run the race-based salary anomaly review that we negotiated in our latest salary settlement. There is a lot of information about the survey and how the data will be used on the Equity Office website.
Mario Ioannidis is representing FAUW on the new return-to-campus working group. This group has representatives from the Staff Association, Occupational Health, the Safety Office, Human Resources, and Plant Operations, among other units, and meets every other week. They are informing institutional guidelines (e.g. classroom capacity) for a staged return from now through January 2022, and applying a change management framework to this return. The group recognizes that returning to campus significantly affects faculty members.
Mario and Johanna Wandel met with Plant Operations. Plant Ops started upgrading HVAC systems (of which there are more than 300) as soon as campus emptied out last year. They are using MERV 13 standard air filters throughout campus and we’re working with them on getting detailed data to members about the rooms they use.
Tenure and promotion 2021
We are asking the University to ensure that departmental and faculty tenure & promotion committees (and external referees) take the effects of the pandemic on teaching and research into account when reviewing tenure and promotion files this year.
FAUW holds general meetings twice a year, in December and April. They are open to all regular faculty who have opted in as voting members of the association. Here are some of the highlights from the December 8, 2020, meeting, at which we massively broke previous attendance records with 134 members in attendance!
We budgeted for “business as usual” this year and (obviously) things are playing out a little differently. Key changes are that we’re underspending on events (no surprise there) and have added some donations and advocacy related expenses.
The Climate Justice Working Group has proposed that FAUW declare a climate emergency at our next general meeting in April. The Board of Directors and the working group will be looking into what exactly this would look like in the meantime. Doing so would involve applying a lens of climate justice to all of FAUW’s own operations and supporting our members in relevant teaching, research, and service efforts. The CJWG is holding a meeting about this on January 28 that all FAUW members are welcome to attend.
We strongly support the proposed updates to the Pregnancy and Parental Leaves policy. We need your help to keep the pressure on the administration to pass the policy. Email your feedback (both things you like and things we can still improve further) to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com by December 18—and ask your colleagues, chair, and dean to do so as well!
We’re picking up the research professors file again after it was paused in March. We expect a formal vote of current research professors to happen in the new year.
Here are the non-confidential highlights of the November 12 Board of Directors meeting, and the president’s report.
Items of interest from the meeting
Anti-racism advisor. We’ve hired Kathy Hogarth as an anti-racism advisor to the FAUW Board. Kathy will be attending FAUW Board meetings for the remainder of this year as part of this role. There’s more about Kathy in Dan’s president’s report below.
The status of Policy 76 – Faculty Appointments. As we discussed at the Spring General Meeting, the P76 drafting process has shown us that the way we’ve always drafted and negotiated policy at Waterloo is no longer working. Here’s the latest: The drafting committee submitted a document to the Faculty Relations Committee co-chairs (the FAUW president and the provost) in late summer, which the Secretariat was unable to adapt into a usable policy without more work and guidance from FRC. Policy 76 was initially opened for revision largely to address lecturer titles and spousal appointments. FAUW’s Board and Lecturers Committee are currently working on identifying FAUW’s priorities for P76, specifically on the topic of teaching stream faculty. What happens next, we’re unfortunately still not sure, but we will keep you posted. We know this is frustrating and we appreciate your extreme patience with this.
1492 Land Back Lane. The OCUFA Board of Directors unanimously voted to support Haudenosaunee land defenders at 1492 Land Back Lane by donating $5,000 to their legal defense fund. The Librarians and Archivists Association at UW has sent a letter in support of the organizers to federal and provincial ministers (and local representatives). The FAUW Board voted to issue a similar statement of support along with our Equity Committee and to donate $1,492 to the legal defense fund. We also discussed other potential avenues of support for the Six Nations of the Grand River and other Indigenous communities that we might pursue in the future (or to pressure the university to implement), such as scholarships or paying taxes to the Indigenous nations whose land we work on. For example, FAUW reps are hoping the University will financially support local Indigenous students (e.g. from Six Nations of the Grand River).
Copyright. There will soon be a new notice appearing once a term on LEARN to remind you about some of the legalities related to uploading content. If you have questions about copyright related to your course material or your own work, email firstname.lastname@example.org — that email goes to a team of copyright specialists across campus.
Declaring a climate emergency. The Climate Justice Working Group has prepared a draft climate emergency declaration for FAUW. This will go to the Fall General Meeting for discussion. If you’re a voting member, you’ll receive the draft in your agenda package by December 1.
Keep reading for Dan’s president’s report, including a Policy 14 (Pregnancy and Parental Leave) update and more about Kathy Hogarth.
The pandemic has consumed much of our attention and energy over the last few months, making it understandably difficult to find the mental and emotional space to consider other societal challenges. However, as the pandemic persists, we may gradually be able to turn our attention to issues such as climate and racial injustice that pre-dated – and will certainly outlive – the pandemic. Alongside the devastation of the pandemic come opportunities to reflect on the status quo and to identify ways to create a more sustainable, just future for us all. As faculty members, we are in a unique position to take meaningful action toward climate justice.
Our actions can not only make a difference to the climate justice agenda but may also serve to reduce our own eco-anxiety while modeling actions other members of our community can take. Here are some things we can all consider doing:
Add your voice. Sign petitions advocating for climate-just change at institutional and governmental levels, and share your actions with others to inspire them to do the same. One immediate action we can all take is to support the call for UW to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in a just, climate-safe future, just as our faculty colleagues have done at other top universities such as Harvard and UBC.
Hold the University accountable. Raise climate justice at the tables at which you sit and highlight the co-benefits of actions to advance climate justice for the University’s broader goals – including sustainability, mental health and wellness, equity, and Indigenization – as well as for its reputation as an innovator and risk taker.
Be an advocate. Lobby your professional organizations to tackle climate justice, for example, by reducing conference-related air travel. Our adaptations to the pandemic have taught us that virtual conferences can be highly engaging; they can also be more accessible to those who typically cannot afford travel to in-person meetings, making them more equitable.
Branch out in your research. Be innovative in imagining how you could integrate a focus on climate justice in your research. You may not see obvious links, but climate change will undoubtedly impact all our fields and we desperately need expertise and insights from all disciplines to tackle this issue! Form and join groups of researchers across disciplines that care about this issue.
Every two weeks or so, we give you a run-down of the major non-confidential topics discussed at our Board of Directors meetings. Here are the latest items:
A new Board member. Patrick Lam (Electrical and Computer Engineering/Computer Science, Director-at-large elected in 2019) has stepped down and gone on sabbatical. Alfred Yu (also ECE) is stepping in until June 30. Nominations for this seat and the six Faculty-specific seats on the Board are open now and due in March.
Climate Justice Working Group. The Board approved a proposal from members to form a FAUW Climate Justice Working Group. Its objectives include building climate justice awareness on campus, creating a community of practice for faculty, and sharing climate justice research with the regional community. You’ll hear more about this new group soon!
Graduate Students Association unionization vote. The GSA Council (similar to our Council of Reps) has voted in favour of “the formation of a union of graduate TAs, RAs, and sessional instructors.” This is a green light for the GSA to explore the option of unionization. There is a detailed explanation on the GSA website. The Imprint has also published a statement from GSA VP David Billedeau.
Our teaching workload project. We’ve collected some information about teaching workload norms and practices from our Council of Representatives. Unsurprisingly, we found wide variation across campus. This is back on the agenda at the Council of Reps meeting on February 5 as we work on narrowing our focus and filling in gaps in the data.
Departmental addenda. Every Faculty has guidelines for performance reviews. Every department has (or is supposed to have) departmental addenda to those guidelines with department-specific criteria (teaching workload norms, for example). These are mandated by the Memorandum of Agreement and they’re important because they set out what the expectations are for your evaluation. We’ll be talking about what to include in these addenda—and why now is the time to update them—at the Council meeting on Wednesday.
Policy 33 – Ethical Behaviour. A subcommittee of the Faculty Relations and Staff Relations committees is reviewing the feedback from the Policy 33 consultations.