11 things we talked about at the November 8 Board meeting

We think it’s important that our members know what we’re doing on your behalf. So we report on the non-confidential business from every Board meeting here on our blog.

The November 8 meeting covered the status of policy 76, the free speech policy, weekend teaching, new faculty representatives on University committees, and more. Here are 11 things you might want to know about:

  1. The University will be creating a G-class policy to meet the Ontario government’s free speech requirements. FAUW does not have a role in the development of G policies, but we will keep you posted as much as we can.
  2. The Board and administration are talking about exceptional circumstances that might warrant hiring people specifically for weekend or overseas teaching, and how we might keep tabs on such hires.
  3. Members of the Renison Association of Academic Staff are voting this week on a service agreement between RAAS and FAUW, which outlines the membership dues that RAAS will pay to FAUW and the services and supports that RAAS and its members will receive in return. If they approve it, our members will vote on it at our general meeting on December 4.
  4. The Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP) has been running for two years. High usage and largely positive feedback have confirmed the need for the program. We’re also hearing that people want more long-term services within the program, which is currently designed to offer short-term solutions. The utilization rate is almost 17%, which is considerably higher than the expected 10%. We have requested information about how this might affect the cost if the contract is extended next year (which it likely will be). If you would like to share feedback about the program, please comment below or send it to Katie Damphouse.
  5. We announced in our last post that we’re looking into arranging for new faculty members to access medical services on campus. We’ll be surveying members hired in the last few years soon to help us make the case for this.

Continue reading “11 things we talked about at the November 8 Board meeting”

What You Can Do About the Travel Ban

Practical things academics can do to help colleagues affected by the U.S. travel and immigration ban.

Last week, President Donald Trump issued a 90-day prohibition on entry to the U.S. by nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The same executive order blocks all refugee admissions for 120 days, with the exception of Syrian refugee admissions, which are suspended indefinitely.

Lawyers got to work, with mixed results. Some people from the seven countries have indeed been prevented from entering the U.S.; others have not. Suffice it to say that, for now, travel to the U.S. for nationals of those countries is very uncertain. And indeed, Muslims from countries other than the affected seven, as well as members of other marginalized groups, may well be wary about entering the U.S.

By now, you will likely have received communications from your professional organizations about how they’re responding to the ban. The Canadian Association of University Teachers, the Ontario Council of Faculty Associations, and University of Waterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur have all issued statements too.

Beyond such statements though, what practical measures can you take in response to the travel ban? Herewith, in no particular order, is an initial round-up of practical things you can do. If you have other ideas, please add a comment below this post. We’ll update the list as we receive your ideas.

Things to keep in mind

  • don’t presume that only people from the seven countries listed in the executive order are choosing not to travel to / leave the U.S.; many nationals from other countries are reluctant to plan visits to or travel away from the U.S. because they fear the next immigration order that might be coming;
  • don’t presume that colleagues or students will disclose their national origin / identity; given the current political climate, they may fear to do so, even in Canada;
  • remember that some individuals may be affected by the executive order without knowing it. In particular, the ban is not limited to passport holders of the seven countries. In some cases, marriage or parentage may determine who is affected.

Conferences, workshops, etc.

  • since loss of travel opportunities results in less networking, less prestige, less demonstrable engagement with wider groups of scholars, offer to workshop and celebrate the scholarship of affected colleagues in journals, blogs, and courses. Tell the scholars in question that you are doing this (and give the workshop a name so that the scholars can list it on their c.v.s); 
  • invite nationals of the seven affected countries (those who live outside the U.S.) to be speakers at academic events in Canada; 
  • organize conferences and workshops in Canada so that scholars from the seven affected countries (those living outside the U.S.) can attend; 
  • make sure that conferences and workshops have good tech options so that those unable to travel here can Skype in, or otherwise participate “virtually”; 
  • reschedule events until after the 90-day ban is over, at which time more colleagues living in the U.S. will (unless something changes) be able to travel. But remember that there may be future travel bans. Don’t count on the 90-day timeline being reliable; 
  • when choosing conferences for your research teams, make sure that they are in locations the entire team can travel to. (Put differently, if one of your grad students is Iranian, it might not be cool to bring your grad team to a conference in the U.S. because that student will be comparatively disadvantaged.); 
  • if you’re planning alternative conferences, etc. in Canada so that folks don’t have to go to the U.S., remember that lots of U.S. scholars will be excluded by this. Many of them don’t receive funds to attend out-of-state or international conferences. So, you may need to Skype them in, or provide them with stipends so that they can travel here; 
  • remember that the ban will prevent colleagues not only from travelling to/from the U.S., but also from travelling through it. For some colleagues, this may mean no more South American trips, etc.

Administrative supports (including hiring, tenure):

  • extend student application deadlines for prospective students from the affected countries;
  • create post-doc opportunities for nationals of the seven countries—the sooner the better; some prospective post-docs may right now be scrambling to replace planned, but no longer tenable, U.S. post-doc positions;
  • plan university events and issue media releases celebrating cultural, intellectual, scientific contributions of scholars from the seven countries;
  • seek out opportunities to co-author or otherwise collaborate with affected scholars; invite them to make contributions to larger publications;
  • establish and contribute to travel grant funds for nationals of the affected countries;
  • in hiring, remember that nationals of the seven countries currently living in the U.S. will not be able to do fly-in interviews in Canada for fear of not being re-admitted to the U.S. after the interview; make alternative arrangements so that they are not thereby disadvantaged in the competition;
  • in the future, when evaluating tenure and promotion files, graduate rankings, or similar from 2017, remember that nationals of the affected countries may have less research output from the period due to restrictions on their conference travel; take this into consideration fairly; 

Final thoughts

  • when colleagues from the affected countries tell you they are worried, ask how you can help. But resist offering unsolicited advice, and don’t tell them not to worry. This is a difficult time for them, and their concerns are justified; don’t dismiss them.
  • If FAUW can help in any way, let us know. 

FAUW hopes that this advice is helpful beyond the University of Waterloo. Please feel free to adapt, share, and use this post.



FAUW Issues Update

David Porreca, FAUW president

It has been an extremely busy start to the Fall term.  Now that we are at the mid-way point, it is time to provide you, dear reader, with an update as to what has been keeping us at FAUW on our toes over the past several weeks.

ADDS status

The task force on the Approved Doctoral Dissertation Supervisor status regulations is pursuing its work with a view to reporting to the Faculty Relations Committee and the Graduate Student Relations Committee in November.  We are looking at solutions to ensure good graduate supervision that meets students’ needs while addressing the manifold concerns with how the current ADDS policy is communicated, applied and enforced.  At FAUW’s request, the Provost’s Office has written to each individual faculty member who has been hired in the past 6 years to inform them of the current policy, and equivalent language has been included in employment letters for those colleagues hired this past year.

Since doctoral dissertation supervisors can belong to a number of different categories of faculty members (e.g., visiting, clinical, tenure-track, tenured at UW, hired with tenure from elsewhere), the eventual policy would need to be formulated in such a way as to address the issues relating specifically to each one.

New AF&T chair

I am very pleased to announce that our colleague Christopher Small from Statistics and Actuarial Science had kindly agreed to replace Peter Van Beek as the Chair of FAUW’s Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee when the latter ends his term of office at the end of August 2014.  The AF&T Chair is a challenging position that can have an enormously positive impact on the careers of our members, and we at FAUW are very pleased that Christopher has expressed such keenness to take on the role.

Athletics

Our blog post from September 9 highlighted some of the issues relating to athletics that affect faculty members’ working environment.  New concerns have come to light in the meantime:

    University of Waterloo Physical Activities Complex

  1. There is no controlled access to the change rooms (e.g., turnstiles), which is commonplace in most reputable athletics facilities.
  2. All staff members who dispense towels and oversee the (otherwise) uncontrolled access to the change rooms must walk through the men’s change room area in order to gain access to their office space.
  3. Upon examination of the floor plan of the PAC, it turns out that the female change room is about ½ the size of the men’s. Unless there is a demonstrable difference in usage rates between the two groups, this layout is evidently problematic from an equity perspective.
  4. A rough estimate sees 1/3 of the lockers in the men’s change room being broken and unusable, and another 1/3 being unused (those with the locks upside down). In other words, the space is under-used by a substantial margin. The lockers are in a deplorable condition, and we should all be grateful that campus ambassadors do not take visitors through the change rooms.

In light of the above, the Faculty Association is pushing for renovations to the PAC that would

  • Restore separate change rooms for faculty and staff
  • Replace the lockers with new equipment
  • Maintain safe access to the emergency exits
  • Ideally, address the concern over equity

If all groups of stakeholders – faculty (FAUW), staff (UWSA), graduate students (GSA), undergraduate students (Feds) and the university administration (via Athletics or the Provost’s Office) – could come together to fund such renovations, all the stated groups would benefit at a modest cost to each.

Also, feedback from female colleagues as to the state of the women’s change rooms at the PAC would be greatly appreciated.  Please comment below or e-mail the FAUW president at dporreca@uwaterloo.ca.

Best practices in hiring

FAUW’s Status of Women and Equity Committee (SWEC) produced a 6-page report on “Best Practices in Hiring” for faculty members. This document has received endorsement by Deans’ Council and will be presented to the Executive Council of the university in late November. Recognition of the need for such a document at those high levels of university administration is an encouraging sign to be sure, as long as we eventually see proportional corresponding action.

Grad House memberships

Some of you have been asking about how faculty memberships at the Grad House work. Henry Ensley, manager of the Grad House, has written a letter explaining how it all works.

Instructor evaluations

FAUW is being consulted on what shape we would like to see course evaluations take in the future. Discussions will include student representatives and qualified staff from CTE. If you have strong feelings or ideas you’re willing to share about course evaluations, please comment below or e-mail the FAUW president at dporreca@uwaterloo.ca.

OCUFA Queen’s Park Lobby Day

UW’s Kate Lawson (OCUFA President) and David Porreca (FAUW President) met with four local MPPs on Wednesday 23 October at Queen’s Park: Ted Arnott (PC – Wellington–Halton Hills); Catherine Fife (NDP – Kitchener–Waterloo); Rob Leone (Cambridge) and Hon. John Milloy (Kitchener Centre). We had four basic messages to deliver to our representatives:

  1. That the province needs to fund an independent study on the working conditions of contract academic staff across the province in order to help resolve long-standing concerns about their job precariousness, lack of real academic freedom and potential for exploitation.
  2. That the province needs to provide temporary solvency relief to university sector pension plans for those institutions that need it.  We had been asking for a 1-year extension of such relief in order to give enough time to OCUFA to complete its study on university-sector pension plans. Much to our relief, however, in the middle of our meeting sessions, news came out that the province had granted a 3-year window of solvency relief.
  3. That the province needs to restore funding to its faculties of education. This question did not concern UW as much, so I shall not belabour it here.
  4. That the province need not incentivize differentiation between universities in the province because institutions of higher education are already plenty differentiated as it is, from small liberal arts colleges to the University of Toronto, with UW standing out – among other things – for its long-standing commitment to the co-op stream and for having a full Faculty of Mathematics.

Our messages were well-received, in particular, the first point, with members from all three parties agreeing to request such a study from the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Scheduling

FAUW is anxiously awaiting the results of the latest simulation of the new scheduling system, as discussed in last week’s post by Bryan Tolson.

Senate bylaws

The Secretariat has announced plans to undertake a full-scale revision of the Senate bylaws. The first phase of this initiative is restricted to housekeeping changes, but revisions to Section 5 (selection of members of the Senate) are being left for last as they are more likely to be substantive. These revisions require great vigilance to ensure that nothing deleterious to our working lives as faculty members happens as a result of the proposed changes.  Faculty senators are encouraged to exercise active vigilance when these documents become available for consideration.

UW’s numbered policies

The Secretariat is also undertaking a full-scale multi-phased revision of all 69 of UW’s numbered policies (still listed as 1-77, with some gaps).  The first phase will involve housekeeping changes (e.g., regularizing and updating the names of buildings and offices that are mentioned in the policies), but later phases will also involve substantive changes.  Through the Faculty Relations Committee, the approval of the Faculty Association will be necessary for any changes that are to be made to Class F, FS and A policies.  FAUW plans to devote substantial time and energy to make sure that any changes are favourable to faculty members’ interests.  The numbered guidelines and procedures will also be subject of an eventual analogous revision.

Work-Life Balance Report update

The joint FAUW/Provost’s Office Work-Life Balance Report that was presented to Senate back in February 2013 is becoming integrated purposefully into the “Value System” focus area of UW’s newly released (but-not-yet-fully-Senate-approved) Strategic Plan.  FAUW’s Status of Women and Equity Committee produced a “Compassionate Care and Bereavement Leave” report that will be considered in conjunction with the WLB report at the same level.

Event reminders

Please mark your calendars for the following events:

Privacy Colloquium: Wednesday, December 4, 2 – 5 in M3 1006, with reception to follow.
Fall General Meeting: Monday, December 9, 11-1, Location TBA. Light lunch provided

Burning Issues Update & Introducing the New Board of Directors 2013-14

David Porreca, FAUW President

This week’s post will accomplish two things: bring you up to date on some of the outstanding issues that have been of concern to our members this year, and also to introduce the members of the Faculty Association board for next year.

Burning Issues Update

Covered, secure bicycle parking

As a pilot project, UW is looking into and costing out the installation of secure, covered bicycle parking in the vicinity of several buildings on campus. Any suggestions for good examples of existing secure, covered bicycle storage would be greatly appreciated.

FORE Research Accounts access

Dennis Huber informed us that a new user interface would be installed on the FORE accounting system to increase useability and user-friendliness. This process will take some time, however, so we are not to expect improvements before the end of the new academic year. 

Advanced Doctoral Dissertation Supervisor (ADDS) Status

UW administration has accepted FAUW’s suggestion and agreed to set up a task force involving faculty members and graduate students, and chaired by the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies. The purpose of this task force will be to determine what the current ADDS regulations are intended to accomplish, and then to provide recommendations on how to accomplish those things without the drawbacks of the current arrangement. Faculty members hired in the last three years have been informed individually about their ADDS status and supervisory privileges. Sorting out the inconsistencies on the various faculty websites is still an unresolved task. 

Short-Term / Long-Term Disability

This question of the improper collection and transfer of personal, confidential medical information has been a major concern for FAUW for almost a full year now, yet a resolution is still a work in progress. We can expect an official response to FAUW’s 8-point plan either before the end of this month or, more likely, sometime early in the Fall term. 

Bright Starts: Amalgamated Daycare at UW

At long last, construction on the amalgamated daycare facility, known as Bright Starts, is well under way, and I understand that it is still on schedule for completion in November this year. I am the fourth Faculty Association president to be involved in shepherding this project through concept to implementation, so the relief at it reaching this advanced stage is spread quite widely. Many thanks are owed to all those who have been involved throughout the process. Future generations of UW faculty, staff and students will carry on being grateful for all the effort deployed. 

Work-Life Balance Report

FAUW is working on an implementation matrix for the recommendations of the Work-Life Balance Report. The matrix will include suggestions for allocating responsibility for each of the recommendations, as well as an aspirational timeline for implementing them. We hope to have this matrix submitted to UW administration before the end of this year’s cycle of FAUW Board and FRC meetings (i.e., the end of June). The recommendations of FAUW’s Compassionate Care and Bereavement Leave Report will be considered simultaneously in this exercise.

    2013-14 FAUW Board of Directors, effective July 1, 2013

    Voting Members
    David Porreca (Classical Studies) president
    George Freeman
    (Electrical & Computer Engineering)
    past president
    Greta Kroeker (History) vice-president
    Frank Zorzitto (Pure Mathematics) treasurer
    Metin Renksizbulut
    (Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering)
    chief negotiator
    Jasmin Habib (Political Science) OCUFA director
    Vivian Choh (Optometry & Vision Science) director
    Roydon Fraser
    (Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering)
    director
    Bryan Tolson
    (Civil & Environmental Engineering)
    director
    vacancy
    Ex Officio, Non-Voting Members
    Lori Curtis (Economics) Pension & Benefits Committee liaison
    Carla Fehr (Philosophy) Status of Women and Equity Committee Chair
    Christine Jewell (Library) Library Liaison
    Cyntha Struthers
    (St. Jerome’s/Statistics & Actuarial Science)
    SJU-ASA rep
    Peter van Beek (Computer Science) Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee Chair
    FAUW representatives on the Faculty Relations Committee
    George Freeman, Greta Kroeker, David Porreca, Metin Renksizbulut, Bryan Tolson

    Opening Up the Multi-Logue

    Greetings and Welcome to the FAUW Blog! 

    A Happy New Year to all!  This is David Porreca, the Faculty Association President at the University of Waterloo since July 2012, when I took over the job from George Freeman, who is consequently now filling the still-significant role of Past-President. In this inaugural blog post (my first one ever), I aim to introduce myself to you as the new FAUW President, as well as to introduce our new plan to keep in touch with you. 

    I am the medievalist in the Classical Studies Department, and have been at UW as a faculty member since 2003.  My involvement with the university goes farther back, as I was first a student (1993-6) as well as a staff member at four of our campus’ libraries (Conrad Grebel, Dana Porter, Davis and the erstwhile Map Library on-and-off 1994-2003).  In other words, I have experienced this campus wearing a number of hats, and I am familiar personally with a variety of perspectives. The FAUW presidency, however, is a brand-new frontier! 

    Speaking of which, this blog is the spearhead of a new communication strategy that FAUW has been plotting for the past several months that will see us branching out beyond the traditional hard-copy FAUW Forum newsletter that was sent to faculty members periodically.  It includes a Twitter feed, a Facebook page, a Google+ page.  The aim is to have a forum for more effective and faster feedback between our members and their Faculty Association. 

    Beginning today, Monday mornings will feature new posts here, the format of which will alternate bi-weekly: news updates written by yours truly on campus-related issues relevant to our membership resulting from discussions at the FAUW Board of Directors – this in essence will replace the “President’s Message” from the Forum; and a rotating roster of guest posts principally from FAUW Board members on issues of broader concern.  Guest posts are by no means restricted to FAUW Board members: submissions are welcome from any member of the University of Waterloo community, and will be considered for posting subject to availability.  This new format will allow for nigh-instant feedback on the posts in the form of comments to reach the right eyes in a fraction of the time and effort than the hard-copy Forum did previously.  

    This does not mean that we will cease entirely the traditional hard-copy distribution of the Forum, since there are some – myself included – who really appreciate having something physical to leaf through.  Consequently, at the end of every term, a selection of the most impactful blog postings will be compiled and distributed in print to all FAUW members on campus.  This publication will remain faithful to the format of the earlier Forum I would like to close this inaugural posting with a non-exhaustive list of questions that FAUW is currently working on:

    • Can faculty members be compelled to work on satellite campuses?
    • How exactly do we define a satellite campus?
    • Should tenured faculty members have their performance evaluations be annual or biennial?
    • How can we arrange to have our UW Librarians recognized as academic staff?  (hint: the librarians are working on this).
    • How can we ensure that academics govern the academic lives of academics? (hint: this principle needs to be enshrined in the governance documents of all campus centres and institutes)
    • How can we support the principle of collective bargaining when it is under siege in so many jurisdictions, including in Ontario?
    • Does the University of Waterloo’s idiosyncratic practice of having an “Approved Doctoral Dissertation Supervisors” list represent a net benefit or an unnecessary burden to our faculty members?
    • Will the new scheduling software package currently being tested by the Registrar’s Office actually produce better results for all stakeholders than the system currently in place?
    • Can a less onerous system of expense claims be put in place, and what would it look like?
     Finally, here’s a selection of other matters in our ‘ongoing issues’ pile: 
    • Work-Life Balance
    • Information gathering/storage relating to Short-Term Disability and Long-Term Disability applications
    • Modifications to the pension plan
    As you can see, even though there may have been an uncanny silence from FAUW over the past several months, we have been far from idle.  It is my personal hope that this new format of communication will go beyond being a one-way transfer of information, or even a simple dialogue (the word implies only two participants); rather, I see this new FAUW Blog as a multi-nodal conversation, or more succinctly, a “multi-logue.”  Let the interchange begin! 

    With best wishes for a productive and prosperous term, 

    -David P.