Last month, I had the opportunity to sit down with three Indigenous students at the University of Waterloo to hear what they would like faculty members to know about their experiences as Indigenous students in higher education.
Kiel Harris (Gitxsan/Gitanyow) is a third-year student in Planning who grew up in northern British Columbia on two different reserves. Kiel had already completed a college diploma before coming to Waterloo and is, therefore, older than many in his cohort. Kelsey Hewitt (Anishnaabe/Lac Seul First Nation) is a third-year student in Geography and Environmental Management who grew up in Kitchener-Waterloo. Kelsey also identifies as a mature student, having not started university straight out of high school. Finally, Anika McAlpine (Cree/Moose Cree First Nation) is a first-year student in Medicinal Chemistry who grew up off-reserve in northern Ontario, in a community that has a large Indigenous population.
Our conversation was broad and far-reaching, touching on challenges related to creating a visible Indigenous space on campus, concerns about implicit bias if students declare their Indigeneity to their professors, and the transitional issues Indigenous students from remote communities might face.
In this blog post, I focus on the students’ ideas about what faculty members can do right now to support Indigenization and Indigenous students in their classrooms. I’ve organized their thoughts chronologically, beginning with the first day of class and carrying through to final assessments.
We had an inquisitive group of about 60 faculty members who ate a lot of pizza and not a lot of raw veggies (not judging; we love pizza).
We’ve had a few changes to the budget since you saw it in April. Some of the new expenses are: giving the Renison Association of Academic Staff an interest-free loan and startup funding, helping fund a bike cage on campus, and upping our sponsorship of the Centre for Teaching Excellence conference breakfast. We’re still expecting a decent surplus.
Members approved our audited financial statements for May–April 2018 (the mini-fiscal year that got us onto the same fiscal year as the University) and adopted RLB as our auditors for next year.
The Elections Committee announced winter 2019 elections: four at-large representatives, one representative from AHS, and one lecturer representative. As per our new elections procedures (announced on the blog and posted online in September), members can only run for one seat at a time. Remember that you need to be a voting member to run or vote in FAUW elections.
Members approved the service agreement with the Renison Association of Academic Staff, making their members affiliate members of FAUW.
George Freeman gave his take on the themes that emerged at the University’s strategic plan consultations. Check out the slides for a list.
We heard your feedback on the Freedom of Speech policy. We’ve summarized and forwarded this to the Secretariat and they are incorporating at least some of it. If you want to give more feedback or see a revised draft, you can meet with the University President and representatives from the Secretariat in the Senate room (NH 3407) at 3:30 on Monday, December 17.
December 6 board meeting
At our last board meeting of 2018, we talked about:
How graduate teaching is counted. To no one’s surprise, there’s some inconsistency across campus on this front. But we just confirmed at FRC that teaching a stand-alone lecture-based graduate course counts toward your workload. Make sure you’re getting teaching credit for these courses! And if you’re teaching overload, make sure that’s being tracked and made up for later. In other words: Don’t teach for free.
Appointment letters. Again. Ninety percent of faculty associations receive copies of their members’ appointment letters. This helps them advise members on negotiating a starting salary, startup funds, and anything else that’s negotiable. We can’t advise prospective faculty right now, because we don’t have any data. We don’t even know what’s negotiable in every department. While we’re working on getting at least some of that information, we’re going to start asking new faculty directly if they’re willing to share copies of their letters, and we will also send a request to all new faculty from the last five years. If you’re willing to share your own, we’d be happy to add it to our data set! You can send it to Erin Windibank at email@example.com. We will of course keep your letter confidential.
Lecturer eligibility for DTPC and FTPC. The Lecturers Committee is wondering why Policy 77 (Tenure and Promotion of Faculty Members) excludes lecturers from serving on and even voting on the makeup of departmental and faculty tenure and promotion committees, considering that these committees grant/deny continuing status to lecturers. Our take on this is that the policy pre-dates the existence of modern lecturer appointments and is out of date. We know that some departments and Faculties are following the spirit, rather than the letter, of the policy, and do include lecturers. We are hopeful that Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments, which is nearing the end of its review process) can provide an interim solution to this problem.
Why is there an AccessAbility Services Exam Centre?
AccessAbility Services’ Exam Centre is both a student and faculty service. The Exam Centre enables students to write tests with their approved accommodations, without requiring faculty to facilitate the accommodations themselves. Accommodations such as securing scribes, purchasing and setting up assistive technology, monitoring supervised breaks, providing additional writing time, and securing rooms that have natural light or ergonomic furniture can be difficult to coordinate, so our office is here to help.
Who writes in the Exam Centre?
AccessAbility Services provides academic accommodations and support to approximately 2,500 students, almost all of whom receive testing accommodations. The Exam Centre facilitates approximately 6,000 tests a term, for students with a variety of disabilities.
Something was also a little off about the FAUW executive officers that day…
But hey, there was candy!
The actual meeting
Reports from visitors
After this bizarre delay, the meeting began with an update from Fatma Gzara on the progress of the the Complementary Teaching Assessment Project Team (CTAPT). CTAPT was tasked with “researching and developing methods of assessing teaching and learning complementary to Student Course Perception surveys.” Fatma told us that CTAPT has hired a researcher to review the literature and how teaching is assessed at other universities, the U15 in particular.