Notes from our June Board meetings

In absolutely no particular order, here are some of the things we’ve been working on or talking about this month. As always, feel free to comment below or otherwise get in touch with a Board member to share your input.

  1. The library begins pickup service starting June 26!
  2. Major win: The Registrar’s Office (RO) will schedule synchronous course activities on request this fall (as usual). We also got confirmation that for the RO to not provide this service would require a decision at Senate. Thank you to everyone who helped advocate for this at Senate and through other channels. We’ve since released a statement to all members about the decision by three Faculties (Arts, Math, and Engineering) to not use RO scheduling services for fall term.
  3. There are new remote teaching guidelines regarding privacy and intellectual property—give them a read if you haven’t yet. We were not consulted about these guidelines and don’t have official opinions on them yet.
  4. HR has been prorating merit increases for faculty on paid sick leave. We believe this contravenes the Memorandum of Agreement (while there are provisions in the MoA for prorating merit, they are for unpaid leaves) and we are discussing this at Faculty Relations Committee.
  5. The end is in sight: The Policy 76 drafting committee has sent a draft to FRC. FRC is advising on next steps for consultation.
  6. We are sorting out what we will do in place of our usual new faculty social events in July and August. The University’s new faculty orientation (in which we play a supporting role) will be fully online.
  7. The Equity Office postponed its Pride celebrations in light of the Black Lives Matter protests and the vast increase in disclosures of racism from members of the UW community. The Gender and Sexual Diversity Working Group, on which FAUW is represented, has issued a statement in support of this decision.
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Faculties withholding centralized scheduling support from instructors

Here’s the good news: After much discussion at Senate and behind-the-scenes lobbying, the Registrar’s Office is now scheduling synchronous meet times for fall 2020, as they normally would. 

Synchronous = students and instructor interact online in real time.
Asynchronous = weekly tasks and deadlines exist but there is no set class time.

The bad news is that at least one Faculty (maybe more) has opted not to use the Registrar’s Office (RO) to schedule synchronous activities, without appropriately engaging collegial bodies such as faculty council. FAUW believes this needs to change. 

Why not scheduling synchronous activities centrally is a problem 

  1. It’s bad for students. When scheduling synchronous activities is left to individual instructors (as in at least one Faculty), it’s very easy to create conflicts for students. That’s one big reason we have centralized scheduling in the first place. In an already confusing, difficult time, it is also unfair to expect students who are enrolled in more than one Faculty to navigate different scheduling processes. Further, instructors surveying students about their availability may inadvertently violate student privacy and confidentiality in a way that the RO won’t because the RO has existing systems in place to optimize scheduling without compromising student privacy. 
  2. It’s more work for instructors. Instructors are already working as hard as they can so let’s not ask them to do scheduling work that others normally do on their behalf (and are still employed to do).  
  3. It violates academic freedom. We are concerned that withholding central supports from instructors with the aim of constraining their pedagogical choices sets a worrisome precedent and risks violating instructors’ academic freedom to teach as they judge fit using the resources that are available.  
  4. It undermines collegial governance. Academic decisions of this type need to be made collegially through bodies established for such deliberation and decision-making. This circumvention of collegial governance is even more concerning given the substantial debate that colleagues had about this matter at Senate—the University’s highest collegial body and indeed the body charged in the University of Waterloo Act with making academic decisions.  
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