The FAUW Board wants to know whether you feel that you have sufficient tools to control your classrooms, both for your security and that of your students, and for practicing effective, engaged teaching.
Update on the AODA Education Standard
As you may recall, FAUW was invited to provide feedback on the draft of the new Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) education standard in October 2021. The draft outlined 179 recommendations proposed to inform accessibility standards for education across Ontario under the AODA.
The Final Recommendations Report was released on April 22, 2022 and is comprised of 183 recommendations for government, educational governing bodies, and post-secondary education institutions. The standard is extensive and will have direct and significant implications for the University’s current governance and infrastructure, teaching and learning practices, research and funding principles, and student experience operations. While the standard is not yet enacted into legislation, it is expected that it will be within the next year.
Waterloo’s workplace accessibility specialist, Joyce Barlow, has created a summary of the final recommendations, “Upcoming to Changes to Accessibility for the AODA.” You can download a copy of the summary here (PDF).
There is currently no formal plan for gathering feedback from individual stakeholders (e.g., faculty members) as the standard is being discussed at administrative levels. We will share further updates as we have them. If you have questions or feedback to share in the meantime, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Zara Rafferty is a continuing lecturer in Recreation and Leisure Studies, and the faculty representative on the UW Accessibility Committee.
The Full Promotion of Teaching￼
What one professor learned while applying for promotion with an emphasis on teaching.
—James Skidmore, Professor and Director, Waterloo Centre for German Studies
I recently applied for and received promotion to full professor. People have asked why I didn’t do this earlier, and I usually gave one of two responses. I would either say that I was under the impression that at UW, you first had to win the Nobel Prize in Physics to be promoted, or I would point out that I’ve been full of myself for years and didn’t think I needed a letter from the President of the University to tell me something I already knew.
The thing is, I’ve always been more interested in my work than in my career; fixating on “rank” was a distraction I’ve tried hard to avoid. Besides, I assumed my somewhat nonconformist academic path might prevent committees from supporting the submission. My work at universities shows a stronger-than-usual commitment to teaching and service than is the norm, and I wondered if that wouldn’t prove to be a dealbreaker.
After attending the FAUW workshop on applying for promotion, and then seeking out the advice and guidance of Lori Curtis (at the time chair of the Academic Freedom and Tenure committee) and Katie Damphouse (the AF&T and Policy officer), I was able to confirm that putting forward a promotion dossier where the emphasis would be on teaching was actually possible under Policy 77. But it’s certainly not the conventional approach, and it required some careful handling.
Thankfully, it seems to have worked. The application went through without a hitch. There were no requests for further information, no off-the-record discussions about holding off on applying, no security personnel arriving at my office to escort me off campus (though I’ve been working from home since the pandemic started, so perhaps they did come by but couldn’t find me). And since I kind of had to figure this out on my own—I didn’t know anyone who had emphasized teaching when applying for promotion—I’d like to share what I learned about the process and how I went about it. Perhaps it will prove useful to you if your situation is similar to mine, but also to anyone putting together a promotion dossier.Continue reading “The Full Promotion of Teaching￼”
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”
FAUW statement on decision making about fall 2021 teaching
We recognize that decisions about fall teaching are being made in an environment of uncertainty. We also recognize the need to balance instructor preferences with student experience. It is our understanding that decisions about fall instruction have largely been made at the faculty level, using a variety of decision-making models. While FAUW supports a de-centralized approach given the varying needs across campus, we ask for earlier and more effective communication and consultation with fall term instructors—and with FAUW—as decisions affecting faculty working conditions are made, to respect the collegial governance model of the university.
We appreciate that most* FAUW members have been given a fair degree of choice as to how they deliver their courses this fall, but faculty were asked to make these decisions without access to essential information, including:
- Anticipated safety protocols (e.g., information on ventilation, social distancing, how classroom changes are handled in buildings with constrained hallways, the availability of asymptomatic rapid testing responsibility for disinfection, and responsibility for compliance enforcement).
- Expected decision rules which will trigger a shift from in-person to online (e.g., infection and vaccination rates, whether classes might shift from in person to online and back to in person).
- Anticipated support for various models (e.g., the availability of classroom technology to enable streaming, registrar and AccessAbility support for testing and exams, the availability of technical support for hybrid models).
- Consideration of faculty workload for hybrid models which will accommodate both remote and in-person students simultaneously, in the same section (e.g., extra teaching credit, overload pay, or temporary reweighting to accommodate extra work).
We heard updates on some of these items at the virtual town hall on May 11, but course delivery decisions were due on May 7, and many aspects of our fall working conditions are still unclear.
FAUW asks for transparent communication and updates on Waterloo’s position regarding access to vaccinations for faculty, staff, teaching assistants, and students, as well as availability and protocols surrounding regular asymptomatic rapid testing. While we recognize that best practices continue to evolve and may change over time, we are aware of multiple initiatives at other institutions regarding testing and vaccine protocols, and infrastructure and teaching support, and ask to be kept informed of Waterloo’s evolving stance on these items.
We suggest that one way of achieving meaningful communication is by giving a member of the FAUW Executive Committee membership in key decision-making groups such as the newly announced Workforce Planning Task Force. We look forward to being more involved and better able to support and inform our members as we prepare to have more activity on campus.
*We have heard reports of some members, particularly lecturers, being pressured or forced to commit to in-person instruction for fall against their wishes, which is very concerning.
The anatomy of a FAUW general meeting: A recap of our 2021 Spring GM
In which we summarize the proceedings of our 2021 Spring General Meeting and explain how our general meetings work at the same time.
General meetings are meetings of the voting membership of FAUW, at which members receive updates on FAUW’s work and vote on important issues such as our budget, constitutional amendments, or changes to the Memorandum of Agreement. General meetings are held in December and April each year.
Quorum for a general meeting is 30 members. Our in-person meetings typically drew about 60-80 members in recent years, but both the fall 2020 and spring 2021 meetings had over 130 members attend online. We’re investing in equipment to be able to livestream our general meetings once we’re back to in-person events so we can continue being accessible to more members, especially those working at satellite campuses.
The meeting chair changes frequently, and must be someone other than a member of the Board of Directors. (If you’re really good at chairing meetings, let us know!)
The consent agenda: Committee and officer reports
Our general meetings have always had an asynchronous component: written reports from our committees and, in recent years, from our representatives on University committees. All voting members receive these reports by email in advance of the meeting. Other members can request the reports.
Some reports are delivered during the meeting itself, particularly those from FAUW executive officers.
The president’s report
At this meeting, Dan Brown’s president’s report started with a few recent success stories:
- Policy 14 (Pregnancy and Parental Leave, including Adoption, and the Return to Work) has been approved by the Board of Governors and is now in effect for all eligible employees who start(ed) a pregnancy or parental leave after April 6 of this year. We tried to have it applied to employees already on leave, but the University hasn’t budged on that. [See all blog posts about Policy 14.]
- Our negotiating team achieved a good salary settlement covering the next three years, including the statutory maximum for salary increases under current provincial law.
- The 2020 salary anomaly review has completed its work and informed individuals who will receive adjustments. Co-chair Marios Ioannidis noted later in the meeting that no solely gender-based anomaly was found this time around, and that there are a number of possible anomalies that require further investigation by the deans because the statistical model may not be robust to properly predict salaries of early-career members or those with salaries above the thresholds in our salary structure.
- A new committee has been set up to focus specifically on updating the policies on faculty appointments and tenure & promotion to improve conditions for teaching faculty. The FAUW reps are Kate Lawson and Su-Yin Tan. Visit uwaterloo.ca/fauw/p76 for the latest information.
Dan also talked about ongoing and forthcoming issues, including the current state of planning for fall 2021. Decisions are mostly being made at the faculty or department/program level, which means members have more of a say than the FAUW Board does at this point. Some faculties/units are doing this with more detail and consultation than others. We are advocating for individual faculty to be primarily responsible for choosing the mode of teaching for your courses and for fall planning in general to be discussed more publicly and openly. We are actively collecting information, so if there are interesting/challenging/problematic/great things happening in your unit, please let us know. Individuals who need help with accommodations for the fall, please see our AF&T team for help.
Some other ongoing items on FAUW’s agenda include a few more policy committees underway or beginning soon and recruitment for FAUW committees—you can put your name forward via our website. We’re hosting a lunch & learn with Laura Mae Lindo on May 19 about how faculty can counteract anti-Black racism at universities, and last fall’s cancelled Hagey Lecture is being rescheduled for fall 2021—stay tuned for an announcement soon.Continue reading “The anatomy of a FAUW general meeting: A recap of our 2021 Spring GM”
10 ways academics can promote climate justice today
Written by professors Allison Kelly and Sharon Kirkpatrick of the FAUW Climate Justice Working Group.
The pandemic has consumed much of our attention and energy over the last few months, making it understandably difficult to find the mental and emotional space to consider other societal challenges. However, as the pandemic persists, we may gradually be able to turn our attention to issues such as climate and racial injustice that pre-dated – and will certainly outlive – the pandemic. Alongside the devastation of the pandemic come opportunities to reflect on the status quo and to identify ways to create a more sustainable, just future for us all. As faculty members, we are in a unique position to take meaningful action toward climate justice.
Our actions can not only make a difference to the climate justice agenda but may also serve to reduce our own eco-anxiety while modeling actions other members of our community can take. Here are some things we can all consider doing:
- Add your voice. Sign petitions advocating for climate-just change at institutional and governmental levels, and share your actions with others to inspire them to do the same. One immediate action we can all take is to support the call for UW to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in a just, climate-safe future, just as our faculty colleagues have done at other top universities such as Harvard and UBC.
- Get involved. Join groups on campus dedicated to climate justice, including FAUW’s Climate Justice Working Group, Indigenization Working Group, and Equity Committee. These groups allow us to connect and work with like-minded colleagues and can turn feelings of isolation and eco-anxiety into collective inspiration and action.
- Hold the University accountable. Raise climate justice at the tables at which you sit and highlight the co-benefits of actions to advance climate justice for the University’s broader goals – including sustainability, mental health and wellness, equity, and Indigenization – as well as for its reputation as an innovator and risk taker.
- Be an advocate. Lobby your professional organizations to tackle climate justice, for example, by reducing conference-related air travel. Our adaptations to the pandemic have taught us that virtual conferences can be highly engaging; they can also be more accessible to those who typically cannot afford travel to in-person meetings, making them more equitable.
- Branch out in your research. Be innovative in imagining how you could integrate a focus on climate justice in your research. You may not see obvious links, but climate change will undoubtedly impact all our fields and we desperately need expertise and insights from all disciplines to tackle this issue! Form and join groups of researchers across disciplines that care about this issue.
Notes from our May 21 Board meeting
Here’s what happened at our last Board meeting:
- We tried out Microsoft Teams’ new ‘raise hand’ feature. It added some efficiency to the meeting—just remember to put your hand down after you speak. 😉
- We heard about the updates Bryan (Tolson, FAUW president) is getting about the Integrated Co-ordination and Planning Committee (pandemic response) discussions. It’s not quite the regular communication that UW President Feridun Hamdullahpur suggested at Senate or in his virtual town hall last week, but it’s helping keep us in the loop.
- We talked about some of our major pandemic-related concerns (now itemized on our website), including the role of Senate in deciding things like whether the Registrar’s Office will schedule meet times for the fall term or not (spoiler alert: we think this should be a Senate decision).
- The CEPT2 and CTAPT motions both passed at Senate. Bryan voted against the CEPT2 update. We’re very happy about the support for CTAPT at Senate and that Waterloo now has a strong, public mandate to use means other than student surveys in evaluating teaching quality.
- We discussed our recent member survey about preparing for spring and fall teaching. The results of that are on our website now: 2020 teaching survey results. We are particularly concerned that, at the time of the survey (May 8–13), 71% of respondents teaching in the fall said it was not clear to them how decisions were being made about how their courses should be delivered.
Another important finding is that 74% of respondents teaching in spring felt more unprepared than usual at the start of term and only 53% felt that they received adequate support for spring term overall. Which is why…
- We formally adopted the position that student course perception surveys for spring 2020 should be used only at the discretion of instructors, as was the case for winter 2020. We’ll be advocating for that position with the administration. We’re also starting to talk about how to address 2020 performance reviews, overall. That’s with our Equity Committee now.
- We talked about the various challenges the library is having in responding to the needs of researchers and students while buildings are closed and books are not circulating. FAUW is grateful to our colleagues in the library for all the difficult work they are doing in enabling our members’ work.
- We got an update about T2200 tax forms and claiming home-office expenses. The update is that there will be an update from the University at the end of this week. We have some interim info about T2200s on our website. (Keep in mind that this is for next year’s taxes. On a related note: we don’t have an answer yet about claiming these same expenses (i.e. your home energy bill) on your FPER, but that also won’t be relevant until next year, as this year’s FPER still only applies to expenses incurred up to March 31. Many connectivity and equipment expenses are already eligible for FPER, so keep your receipts.
- We are picking up our faculty teaching workload survey that got sidelined in March. We gathered data from the Council of Representatives in the fall and presented preliminary findings at the February Council Meeting, but still have gaps. We will soon be sharing everything we have so far and crowd-sourcing corrections from members.
The hot topics at FAUW and OCUFA this month
What FAUW is talking about
- We’re working on identifying standard teaching workload expectations in each department so we can better advise members. We started gathering data on this at the October 29 Council of Reps meeting.
- Speaking of which, we are still missing Council members for: Accounting & Finance, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Physics & Astronomy, and Systems Design Engineering. If you’d like to be your unit’s rep, send us an email.
- The Policy 33 (Ethical Behaviour) drafting committee finished its public consultation on October 18. FRC will review all the feedback and give direction to the drafting committee about changes to make by November 11. We expect a final version back to FRC for approval on December 19. In particular, FAUW heard impassioned feedback about the policy’s silence on student-supervisor relationships. This was instead covered in draft guidelines. The Board voted on October 24 to ask that this be included in the policy itself.
- The Lecturers Committee had an insightful meeting with David Rose, new chair of the Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) drafting committee and Benoit Charbonneau (chief negotiator for FAUW) about policy 76 and implications for lecturer salary equity.
- FAUW President Bryan Tolson met with the faculty reps on the joint health and safety committees about how those committees can advocate more explicitly for faculty safety issues.
- Ranjini Jha was appointed to the Pension Investment Committee.
- We’re starting to plan events for next term. Some topics we’re looking at include preparing for retirement, definite term contracts, the teaching scheduling process, and meet-ups for early-career faculty and out-of-town and bike commuters.
- The University is currently negotiating its third Strategic Mandate Agreement with the province. Currently, 92% of UW’s operating funding is based on enrolment, but the new performance-based funding model will bring this number down to about 33%, with the rest dictated by to-be-determined performance indicators. FAUW is more concerned with rejecting this funding model as a whole than getting into the details about which indicators UW should be using. If you want to learn more about how the model works, here’s a presentation from OCUFA (PDF) that breaks it down.
What OCUFA is talking about
OCUFA = Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations
- Now that the provincial legislature has reconvened, Bill 124 (the one that will cap salary increases at 1%) will likely pass in November, and then there likely will be a court challenge, likely by CUPE (the Canadian Union of Public Employees). It’s still unclear if the legislation will apply to anything outside of base salary (e.g. benefits spending, merit increases).
- Bill 100 (the one that allows the government to reduce/eliminate the salary of faculty members collecting a pension) is already law; we’re just waiting to see if they will use it. OCUFA will file a charter challenge if needed.
OCUFA’s advocacy day at Queen’s Park is coming up on November 6. We can’t make it this year, but you can follow along on their Twitter account when the time comes.
Assigning students research on social movements and marginalized groups
From an extractive to a relational approach: Craig Fortier shares tips for instructors in all disciplines assigning projects directed towards the study of marginalized groups or social movement organizations.
For over a decade, I checked the email for No One Is Illegal-Toronto, the migrant justice activist group with whom I organized. Almost daily, we would receive messages from students (mostly university, but sometimes high school or college) asking to conduct an interview. Or perhaps for basic information about the organization that could be found on our website. Or even a master’s or PhD student who wanted to “study” our movement for their dissertation. In fact, many of our individual organizers who were publicly recognizable figures received personal emails of the same nature—some at a rate two or three times that of the group email account!
At first, we would try to conduct as many interviews as possible. Our logic was: The more people who know about this issue, the more people who will join our movements and mobilize. But it quickly became clear that many of the students (and, if we are being honest, most of the professors who were telling students to come speak with us) were seeing the activity as a learning exercise for themselves and not as a means of connecting and building tangible (and reciprocal) relationships with social movements.
They also didn’t seem to understand the nature or the structure of community-based organizing. And, it wasn’t just No One Is Illegal. Talk to any active social movement group (from Black Lives Matter to the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty) and they will tell you the same thing: They are inundated with requests from students and teachers for information. At the time I was organizing, No One Is Illegal made the decision to develop a clear and proactive policy around research. The experience of developing that internal policy shaped and guided my own academic work and assignments as I entered the academy.
I’m now an assistant professor of Social Development Studies at Renison University College and I teach courses that are directly related to the study of social movements. It’s now my turn to try to put the principles developed in organizing spaces into practice in the academy—to ensure that we aren’t burning out campus organizers like the Indigenous Students Association, RAISE, UW Base, WPIRG, the UW Women’s Centre, etc. who are mobilizing to bring about the world we wish to see. This is the world that I teach about in my classes, but it is a world that is only actualized through on-the-ground mobilizing.
Where you come in
While this post is specifically about my experience teaching courses on social movements, I think that there are a lot of lessons that can be taken from them for professors assigning projects directed towards the study of marginalized groups, whether it is a mining engineering assignment that takes into account Indigenous peoples as stakeholders, a biology course on the health determinants in a migrant community health centre, an accounting course studying the social and environmental impacts of a particular innovation in business or any other discipline where you are relying partly on information from marginalized communities.Continue reading “Assigning students research on social movements and marginalized groups”