The CAUT Equity Conference is coming up on February 10. Two or three members of the Equity Committee will be attending, and registration is still open.
Policy 3 (Sabbatical and other leaves). The Board agreed to proposed changes to Policy 3 that would allow faculty to transition between sabbatical and sick leave in the event of extended illness. This should be approved at Faculty Relations Committee soon and then sent to the Board of Governors. These changes were prompted by recommendations based on past Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee cases.
FAUW leadership transition. As we announced earlier this month, Lori Curtis has stepped down and vice president Mary Hardy has now assumed the role of president. The Board voted to have president-elect David Porreca begin his term in May this year, instead of July, and to have David join the board in a non-voting capacity until his term as president begins, to facilitate a smoother transition. David is a past president of FAUW (2012–2015) and will bring experience and institutional memory that will be very useful at this time.
Salary Anomaly Working Group. The Board appointed Rashmee Singh, Kate Rybczynski, and Michael Wallace as the FAUW representatives on the working group.
The salary negotiation team. Salary negotiations begin late this year, and will be issuing a call for interested team members in the coming weeks. Please send us any recommendations you have! We need a strong leader for the team, and at least one accountant.
The University’s mask policy. We’ve heard from several members who do not feel safe in small, crowded classrooms without asking students to mask. FAUW is considering asking for the data on which the University is basing its masking decisions.
CUPE sessional unionization. President Mary Hardy met with CUPE representatives and expressed support for their organizing efforts. She notes that there’s no disagreement about who represents whom.
Mary also met with the Staff Association to discuss common issues, including snow days and pension & benefits.
Here’s what we talked about at the September 29 meeting—plus a couple other updates:
Adjourning meetings. You might find our parliamentarian’s ‘fun fact’ from this meeting useful for your own regular meetings. Because board meetings have a set end time, and a regular schedule, a motion to adjourn is not needed if the meeting has reached its scheduled end time. If there is pending business, it gets carried over automatically to the next scheduled meeting.
New Faculty Dinner. Lori Curtis (FAUW president) noted the success of this year’s New Faculty Dinner, which is co-sponsored by FAUW and the University. We also help coordinate New Faculty Orientation. It’s been great meeting new faculty members in person this year, and we look forward to continue seeing you all at FAUW events!
OCUFA Advocacy Day. The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations holds an annual “advocacy day,” when representatives from faculty associations meet with members of the provincial parliament to raise awareness about key issues in the postsecondary sector. This year’s Advocacy Day will be an important opportunity to raise faculty concerns with the newly elected members of the provincial parliament and make the case for meaningful investment in public university funding, supporting university research, addressing fairness for contract faculty, and protecting our public universities. This year’s Advocacy Day is November 15, and FAUW plans to send at least one member of the Board.
Six Nations scholarship funding. The second round of scholarship funding has been issued to the Grand River Post Secondary Education Office to support Waterloo students from the Six Nations of the Grand River.
UW’s draft Electronic Monitoring Guideline. The administration shared a draft of this new guideline with FAUW, asking for feedback from FAUW. This is not the first time that FAUW has pointed out that, had employee groups been involved earlier in the process, we could have raised concerns earlier so they could be addressed more easily. This is also not the first time we’ve pointed out that a guideline should probably be an FS-class policy because it very directly concerns our terms of employment. You can expect to see this guideline in place by the provincial deadline of October 11, 2022.
A note on masks: Research shows that providing free masks and giving reminders are effective ways of getting people to wear masks. If you want, you could have your department order free surgical masks, N95s, or cloth masks and filters from Central Stores, and then place a box at the front of your classroom.
The FAUW Board of Directors met for the first time in the 2022–23 academic year on September 15. For those new to the blog, we (try to) provide updates after (most) board meetings, to keep members up to date on what we’re working on.
At this meeting:
The board welcomed new directors and FAUW’s new executive manager, Matthew Root. If you missed it in our latest newsletter, Matt’s background is in labour relations, specifically in the broader public sector and post-secondary education fields, and he started in August. New directors this year are Nancy Worth (Geography), Shannon Majowicz (School of Public Health Sciences), and Paul Wehr (Psychology). See the full list of directors here.
Parliamentarian Katy Fulfer gave a refresher on what a parliamentarian is:
A parliamentarian is an advisor to an organization, including but not limited to the president, a meeting chair, officers, committees, and members, on rules of order (47:46). Their advice is non-binding. The president or (in a meeting) the meeting chair gets to make the final decision about procedure.
I imagine the parliamentarian like an angel on your shoulder, whispering advice. In the lingo of the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, this angel is lawful neutral. The lawful part is probably obvious. The neutrality speaks to the parliamentarian’s role as a consultant. They do not participate in debate, and Robert’s Rules of Order goes as far to say they should abstain from voting unless ballots are used, where their vote will not be seen by members (47.55).
FAUW President Lori Curtis expanded on some updates delivered at the August general meeting about thestatus of some policy issues. While we hear a lot about Policy 76/77, Policy 57 (Accommodations), Policy 12 (Compassionate Care Leave), and Policy 33 (Ethical behaviour) also remain incomplete. Our FAUW reps are pushing for movement on P57 and P12 at their PDCs. It is our understanding that Policy 33 is with the Secretariat. Lori also noted that FAUW brought up the Salary Anomaly Review again at the last Faculty Relations Committee meeting. While administration states they are fully supportive of the process beginning, we will keep pushing for this to actually move it forward. We also reminded the administration about the letters from the Equity and Lecturers committees with recommendations for improving the review process.
A post from the FAUW Lecturers Committee and FAUW Equity Committee.
The University of Waterloo made an important commitment to make progress towards gender equity by joining the HeForShe initiative in 2014 and meeting its faculty HeForShe commitments in 2018. Of particular note for this blog post is the goal of 30% female faculty representation. Efforts towards gender parity, particularly in faculty positions, need to be long-term and sustained to ensure that equity considerations in the hiring process, promotion process, and general work culture become and persist as the norm. What is more, equity needs to occur at the micro level (i.e., faculties and departments) in addition to the macro level (i.e., university-wide). When looking at gender parity in our faculty members since 2009, university-wide, the impact of the HeForShe campaign and other equity initiatives is clear. Faculty-wide female representation has increased steadily from 25% in 2009 to almost 31% in 2021. While this is indeed progress, there are some areas for improvement. In this post, we would like to track UW’s gender parity, but it is important to note that the data we draw from is limited in that it retains cis-gender binary distinctions.
Looking at specific faculty roles, it is clear there is a need for sustained long-term equity efforts. First, female representation at the full professor level is much lower compared to other faculty roles. While there was a fairly steady rate of female representation at the associate professor level (~31.6%), there was a decline in female representation in assistant professors and continuing lecturers from 2018 to 2021. These could be early warning signs that we are taking our foot off the metaphorical equity gas pedal. The decline in assistant professor female representation is particularly worrisome, given that this is the beginning of the current professorial ranks (i.e., assistant, associate, and full professor) and declines in female representation at this rank will make it impossible to achieve the long-term change needed at the full professor rank. We all need to keep our foot on the gas pedal to ensure that equity gains are sustained in the long-term across all faculty ranks.
Here’s some of what we talked about at the last FAUW Board of Directors meeting:
Teaching assessment. The new student course perception (SCP) survey tool is launching this term, and FAUW (still) has concerns about implementing the new survey tool. In particular, we’re concerned that it’s being rolled out without training on how results will affect APR scores and before complementary teaching assessment methods are in place.
There is a large body of research that demonstrates unavoidable bias in SCPs and consequently argues they should never be used for summative assessment. The Renison Association of Academic Staff has reached agreement in its Collective Agreement that course evaluations will not be a required part of annual reviews nor tenure and promotion processes. In 2018, the arbitrator in a case at Ryerson ruled that student evaluations of teaching can’t be used to measure teaching effectiveness for promotion or tenure, based on expert opinions that student evaluations cannot be used to assess teaching effectiveness.
FAUW staff. Katie Damphouse is back from leave and is once again your go-to person for help with navigating workplace policies and procedures! Hiring for the Executive Manager position is under way. We ask for your continued patience as Katie ramps up to full time and we complete the hiring process for the Executive Manager.
The UW Staff Association has called out recent University communications for “a lack of clarity and compassion for employees.” This comment is a symptom of deeper issues about valuing employee wellbeing and maintaining a long tradition of collegial consultation. The results of the University’s recent survey about how employees felt about returning to on-campus work make clear that this sentiment is widespread. President Vivek Goel acknowledged in the February 2 President’s Forum the administration has work to do on ensuring that employees feel heard.
One way the administration could improve on this front is to consult with employee groups the way that it is supposed to. We wonder, for instance, if UW might have ordered sufficient Rapid Antigen Tests and N95 masks, as some other universities did, if real employee consultation had been in place for the last twelve months.
Communication is not consultation
In response to our request for meaningful consultation with faculty on return-to-campus decision making, the administration said: “Timelines and procedures for normal long-term planning – where we can consult very broadly in open forum discussion and where planning decisions can be widely known before coming effective – are not well suited to decision-making in this environment.”
If “normal long-term-planning” procedures cannot be respected because of “this environment,” it makes one wonder why other norms—teaching loads, class sizes, performance reviews, student course surveys—proceed as usual. Does “this environment” refer to the pandemic that has been ongoing for almost two years? Faculty members have been compelled to find ways to make their instruction as “well suited” as possible to these changed and changing circumstances. At what point will decisions related to teaching again be the result of authentic consultation with faculty members?
Here’s what the FAUW Board of Directors talked about at its last meeting.
The Nominating and Elections Committee. This committee is officially up and running! The committee will collect submissions from people interested in representing faculty on UW and joint committees to help the Board and President make selections, with the aim of casting a wider net from now on. The committee will also continue the work of the Elections Committee, overseeing and recruiting members to run in Board elections. If you’d like to join this committee, or get involved in any way, get in touch!
The FAUW Parliamentarian role. The description for this position is now finalized and we are looking for someone to fill it! A Parliamentarian advises meeting chairs, committees, and members on matters of meeting procedure and helps to ensure that meetings are conducted in a manner that abides by the rules of the organization while enabling members to participate equitably in deliberations. The parliamentarian will need to be, or become, familiar with Roberts Rules of Order and the FAUW constitution. You can learn more about this role on the FAUW website, and get instructions for how you can put your name forward or suggest someone you think would make a good parliamentarian!
Policy 33 (Ethical Behaviour). A new draft of this policy went out for consultation a couple of years ago and the Staff and Faculty Relations Committees (SRC and FRC) directed the policy drafting committee to make changes based on the comments received at that time. Since then, it has gone out for further consultation to the President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce. FAUW is bringing its final questions and concerns to a special meeting of FRC and SRC on January 31. The Equity Committee chair noted at Thursday’s Board meeting that concerns the committee had in 2019 have not been addressed.
The University announced on January 21 that most classes will resume in person on February 7. Many of our members have expressed concerns over the last weeks and months about what is required for a safe return to campus, and about the disruption to pedagogy and significant additional workload involved in switching course delivery mode (again), and we have shared these concerns with the administration.
From the very beginning of the pandemic, FAUW has argued that collegial governance norms require that faculty members be consulted about and involved in decisions regarding pandemic issues such as the timing of a return to in-person instruction.
Despite this, neither the Association leadership nor faculty members collectively have been consulted about returning to campus, this time or any previous time. We have been told that consultation with faculty is happening at the “local” level, but as far as we can tell, this is quite rare. The FAUW Board is extremely frustrated with this lack of consultation, and a lack of recognition that we are raising credible issues that affect a large proportion of our membership.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, university administrations have developed the bad habit of making decisions about campus health and safety behind closed doors and circumventing existing shared governance bodies that include the voices of campus unions,” said Sue Wurtele, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. “Given the increased danger of campus outbreaks with the Omicron variant, it should be obvious that this cycle can’t continue. It’s time to take the safer path, which requires full transparency about campus health and safety issues and accountable governing bodies that include experts from campus unions.”
What we’re asking for now
In light of the announcement about resuming in-person teaching, we have forwarded the following demands, based on concerns we’ve heard from members, to the administration:
That an adequate supply of N95 or KN95 respirators be provided for our members and for all members of the UWaterloo community who must be on campus.
That Rapid Antigen Tests be provided to faculty who are required to be on campus regularly, as soon as they are available.
That the University conduct an assessment to determine when COVID-19 booster shots should be mandatory.
That the University provide an update about safety upgrades to campus infrastructure that have taken place since July 2021, including information about air exchange rates and carbon dioxide levels in offices, classrooms, and other spaces, and information about how air quality will continue to be monitored and regularly reported to the campus community.
That faculty have the autonomy to consult with their students and to decide whether their courses should continue online or in-person.
That Faculty Councils and Senate have robust discussions of the conditions required for a safe return to campus.
That faculty be meaningfully consulted on decisions related to a safe return to campus and our pedagogical duties.
That until such meaningful consultation with faculty takes place, the administration stop claiming it is occurring.
That the results of the recent survey asking employees how they feel about returning to campus be released to the campus community, along with any parallel survey results for students.
As we announced in December, FAUW’s Executive Manager is on an 18-month secondment in the Office of Research. We are currently hiring a temporary replacement and expect to be working without an Executive Manager for around 6–8 weeks. With another staff member on leave, we’re down to just our Communications Officer and will need to triage FAUW activities for a couple of months.
That said, we’re still trying to keep members informed with updates as often as we can, starting with this catch-up post about topics discussed at the last few Board meetings. Some of this was included in the reports for the Fall General Meeting. If you didn’t receive those reports, make sure you’re a voting member and you’ll get them next time!
Member feedback is now being collected and shared anonymously with the Board routinely, as a report in Board meeting packages. Most recent comments are related to the pandemic, specifically 2021 performance reviews and returning to campus, which we will be discussing at the next meeting on January 20. You can send feedback and suggestions to your Council representative, a Board member, or email@example.com. Note that this pertains to general concerns only; if you have an individual concern, please contact the Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee for support with your specific situation.
The new Nominating and Elections Committee is close to having its terms of reference finalized and approved, and will soon start its work helping the FAUW leadership and staff find suitable members for committee roles. If you’re interested in helping to represent your colleagues on a University committee, you can reach out to a member of the committee at any time to talk about how you might be able to help. The Nominating and Elections Committee itself will also soon need more members and is a great way to start getting involved with FAUW.
FAUW members, other instructors, and the many staff members who support teaching and learning at the University of Waterloo have gone above and beyond over the last two years to continue delivering excellent education to Waterloo students. The abrupt change to remote teaching last year accelerated positive innovations that were already in the planning stages. Together, we have learned new technologies, developed new digital assets, and experimented with new pedagogical approaches. Quickly adopting and adapting these approaches and innovations has required a huge effort by dedicated instructors and students alike.
This change has also come at a cost to many students due to technology issues, a sense of disconnection, and a lack of appropriate learning environments. For students who have not yet developed independent study skills and self-discipline, the switch to remote has been particularly difficult. As we prepare to return to on-campus teaching in the coming months, we have an opportunity to ensure that we carry forward the positive features and the lessons from this experience into a future of teaching and learning that is better for everyone.
These changes are far from over. The University—all universities—must significantly increase the resources available to enable instructors to deliver adaptable and universally accessible teaching.