Keeping Our Foot on the Equity Gas Pedal

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.

Graph depicting female representation in different faculty types in 2009, 2014, 2018, and 2021. For all faculty, female representation was 25% in 2009, 29% in 2014, 30% in 2018, and 31% in 2021. For full professors, female representation was 14% in 2009, 18% in 2014, 21% in 2018, and 23% in 2021. For associate professors, female representation was 27% in 2009, 32% in 2014, 32% in 2018, and 32% in 2021. For assistant professors, female representation was 34% in 2009, 40% in 2014, 41% in 2018, and 38% in 2021. For continuing lecturers, female representation was 41% in 2009, 28% in 2014, 38% in 2018, and 33% in 2021. For all lecturers, female representation was 35% in 2009, 42% in 2014, 37% in 2018, and 45% in 2021.
Figure 1. University Level Gender Parity Across Faculty Types 2009 – 2021. Data Source: Statistics Canada University and College Academic Staff System (UCASS)
Continue reading “Keeping Our Foot on the Equity Gas Pedal”

Board meeting report: February 3, 2022

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.

Return to campus. The Board discussed the administration’s response to our list of demands for a safe return and better consultation with employees, and debriefed the January 31 FAUW town hall meeting, which more than 320 faculty members attended. You can find answers to many questions on our updated COVID-19 page, along with new questions we’ve posed to the administration following the town hall. We also noted OCUFA’s recent news release, “Faculty and academic librarian voices ignored as universities rush return to in-person learning.”

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.

Council of Representatives. We set the agenda for the February 14 Council of Reps meeting, focusing on the return to campus, the state of collegial governance at UW, and the vacancies our Nominating and Elections Committee is currently working to fill. Talk to your Council member for more details!

Is UW’s collegial governance model still working?

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?

Continue reading “Is UW’s collegial governance model still working?”

Board meeting report – January 20, 2022

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.

Continue reading “Board meeting report – January 20, 2022”

Faculty must be part of safe-return decision making

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.

Unfortunately, this is a concern at other universities as well. OCUFA drew attention to this again in a statement issued on January 24:

“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:

  1. 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.
  2. That Rapid Antigen Tests be provided to faculty who are required to be on campus regularly, as soon as they are available.
  3. That the University conduct an assessment to determine when COVID-19 booster shots should be mandatory.
  4. 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.
  5. That faculty have the autonomy to consult with their students and to decide whether their courses should continue online or in-person.
  6. That Faculty Councils and Senate have robust discussions of the conditions required for a safe return to campus.
  7. That faculty be meaningfully consulted on decisions related to a safe return to campus and our pedagogical duties.
  8. That until such meaningful consultation with faculty takes place, the administration stop claiming it is occurring.
  9. 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.
Continue reading “Faculty must be part of safe-return decision making”

Updates from recent Board meetings

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 fauw@uwaterloo.ca. 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.
Continue reading “Updates from recent Board meetings”

Faculty need more support to meet increasing teaching workload and expectations

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.

Continue reading “Faculty need more support to meet increasing teaching workload and expectations”

October 14 FAUW Board of Directors meeting report

And we’re back! Here’s what we’ve been working on lately – please comment below or contact us to let us know what you think!

  1. The AODA Education Standard recommendations. There are 179 initial recommendations that would inform accessibility standards (regulations) for postsecondary education across Ontario, under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. FAUW’s representative on the University’s Accessibility Committee, Zara Rafferty, visited this meeting to discuss how the recommended standards might affect faculty, and to gather concerns to inform the University’s submission to the ministry. A thread throughout the discussion and the feedback Zara has received is that instructors will need significant support in order to meet the proposed requirements. The deadline to send feedback to Zara has passed, but you can submit comments individually until November 1. Your Council member has more information about this.
  2. Proposed changes to pension plan investment documents. The Pension Investment Committee has drafted changes to the Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures and introduced new Fund Implementation Procedures and a Responsible Investment Policy. The drafts are available in the agenda for the October 22 Pension & Benefits Committee meeting. We are concerned that the proposed changes introduce unnecessary risk, may be ineffective in implementing ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) criteria, and could reduce accountability to plan members. In addition, the administration at times appears to treat pension funds as university assets, which is inappropriate.
  3. Policies 76 and 77. After the latest drafting committee failed to submit substantial revisions for the Faculty Appointments and Tenure & Promotion policies, the Board directed your Faculty Relations Committee representatives to request mediation as a way to move forward. The Board also identified things we absolutely must achieve for our teaching-intensive members (there’s a longer list on our website), including:
    • Teaching-stream professorial ranks with defined progression through these ranks.
    • Time to do the work required to progress through the ranks, in a pedagogical/professional development term (one in every six terms).
  4. Our grievance related to Policy 14 – Pregnancy & Parental Leaves (including Adoption) and the Return to Work. Members who were already on pregnancy leave when the new policy passed (on April 6) were informed by the University that when their parental leave started (after April 6), they would not qualify for expanded benefits under the new policy because it’s all “one leave” that started before the policy came into effect, even though individuals who did not give birth and went on parental leave at the same time did qualify. We believe this is inequitable treatment and that these are two separate leaves in policy, and have filed an association grievance. We know of at least five members affected by this; please contact Lori Curtis if it affects you as well.
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No, a vaccine mandate does not violate rights

Guest post by Emmett Macfarlane, Department of Political Science

University administrators are apparently struggling with whether to impose vaccine mandates for all students, faculty, and staff who want to be on campus this fall. A vaccine mandate of this sort is the most effective means by which to protect the campus community, limit the spread of COVID, and protect those who, for medical reasons or age limitations, cannot be vaccinated (especially the children of students, faculty, and staff who are exposed if COVID is brought home to them).

One of the most common objections to vaccine mandates is that such a policy will infringe the rights of those people who have thus far refused to get vaccinated. Both the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and provincial human rights laws, like the Human Rights Code of Ontario, are cited as preventing universities from implementing vaccine mandates.

This argument holds little water.

It is true that the broad liberty interests of unvaccinated individuals are affected by limiting where they can go, by instituting employment requirements, and by having their privacy intruded on by being required to disclose their vaccination status. Yet we already place limitations like this in many circumstances. Ontario schoolchildren have, for many years, been required to provide proof of vaccination to attend school. Smokers are not allowed to smoke in indoor public spaces, because we recognize the dangers of second-hand smoke.

In short, one person’s liberty interests end where the rights of others begin. We cannot allow people to invoke rights in the name of behaviour that produces incontrovertible harm to others.

Continue reading “No, a vaccine mandate does not violate rights”

June 3 report from the Board

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.

Other work on Policy 76/77 will continue through the summer.

Equity data survey

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.

Response to FAUW position on fall 2021

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.

Continue reading “June 3 report from the Board”