The hot topics at FAUW and OCUFA this month

What FAUW is talking about

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Ranjini Jha was appointed to the Pension Investment Committee.
  7. 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.
  8. 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

  1. 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).
  2. 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”

What Indigenous students want faculty to know

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.

Continue reading “What Indigenous students want faculty to know”

Double Recap: General Meeting and December 6 Board Meeting

December 4 general meeting

Missed the general meeting? Here’s a quick recap, excluding items covered in previous blog posts. See the general meeting slides (PDF) and the agenda package (PDF) for more details.

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Members approved the service agreement with the Renison Association of Academic Staff, making their members affiliate members of FAUW.
  6. George Freeman gave his take on the themes that emerged at the University’s strategic plan consultations. Check out the slides for a list.
  7. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 windibae@uwaterloo.ca. We will of course keep your letter confidential.
  3. 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.

Behind the Scenes of AccessAbility Services’ Exam Centre

Hello faculty members! It’s Jennifer Gillies here, the associate director of AccessAbility Services. In my last blog post for FAUW, I talked about the general operations of AccessAbility Services. This time, I’m going to share some ‘behind the scenes’ information about our Exam Centre.

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.

Where do students write their tests?

A student writing a test with AccessAbility Services will be scheduled to write in one of five locations, based on factors in their accommodation (e.g., the need for a scribe or natural lighting). Continue reading “Behind the Scenes of AccessAbility Services’ Exam Centre”

News From Your Board: Meeting Summary for October 25

The start of our October 25 Board meeting was disrupted by a visit from a familiar-looking chicken farmer and their prize chicken.

(Watch the video or read the description on YouTube.)

Something was also a little off about the FAUW executive officers that day…

FAUW staff dressed as treasurer Dan Brown, president Bryan Tolson, and vice president Shannon Dea.
Is that the FAUW staff team, or executive officers Dan Brown, Bryan Tolson, and Shannon Dea? We can’t tell!*

But hey, there was candy!

Halloween-themed cellophane bags of candy, and chocolate brownies with green gummy bears on top.

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.

Referendum results

The results of our two referenda came back this week, one on FAUW’s dues structure and another on some relatively minor changes to the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA). Both passed, with large majorities of FAUW’s membership in agreement (86% of voters were in favour of the dues change and 94% for the MoA changes). If you missed the votes or want to learn more about them, read more about why our dues structure is changing and the changes to the MoA. Continue reading “News From Your Board: Meeting Summary for October 25”