Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Lessons from the CAUT New Activists Workshop

Elise Lepage, FAUW Board member
On November 24, I attended the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ New Activists Workshop in Ottawa on behalf of FAUW. This was the second edition of this day-long workshop and it was well attended by more than 40 colleagues representing universities from coast to coast. I found it both well- thought-out and structured, and yet just open enough for effective and meaningful discussions to happen.
The workshop started with an open discussion to identify the challenges faced by post-secondary education. The list was long and it appears that despite the major differences in terms of size, location, and mission of each university, all of us share very similar concerns.
We summed this list of concerns up in four keywords: austerity, solidarity, equity, and (lack of) collegial governance. Groups were formed around these major topics to further the discussion, and offer some strategies.
Another keyword that came up in all the discussions was indigenization, and it appears that Canadian universities are at very different stages in this process. Good practices have to be shared. CAUT offered its support in facilitating this academic culture shift.
[Editor’s note: University Affairs has a good overview of indigenization efforts across Canada (and criticisms of such), and the University of Regina offers 100 ways to Indigenize and decolonize academic programs and courses (PDF).]
There were also hands-on sessions in which we developed communication and organizational skills such as writing a grievance or a press release, or producing awareness-raising materials such as posters and videos.

Overall, it was a very useful and informative workshop, and I am looking forward to sharing and applying some of these ideas and skills in my work with FAUW.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Hagey Lecture Perspective: 2003

The Hagey lectures are the University of Waterloo's premier invitational public lecture series. Since 1970, outstanding individuals, who have distinguished themselves internationally in some area of scholarly or creative endeavour have given talks intended to challenge, stimulate and enrich not only the faculty, staff and students of the University of Waterloo, but all members of this community.

These annual lectures are co-sponsored by the Faculty Association and the university.

This is the third post in a series on past Hagey Lectures from a few years ago – we just found the unpublished draft and thought we'd share it with you. Stay tuned for an announcement soon about the next lecture, coming up in March 2017.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Lecturers Survey Report Released

FAUW’s Lecturers Committee has just released its final report on the results of last year’s survey of all lecturers at Waterloo.

The Lecturers Committee advises the FAUW Board on the development and revision of University policies pertaining to Lecturers. In November 2015, the committee sent a survey to the 180 lecturers of UW to capture the diversity of their working conditions. The response rate was impressively high (83%), and the respondents also shared copious comments which are extremely valuable to this portrait of lecturers across campus.

The survey results cover five main topics:
  1. Questions about terms of appointment gathered data on length of employment at Waterloo; the ratio of research, teaching, and service; and the possibility of promotion.
  2. Comparing teaching loads can prove to be challenging given the diversity of disciplines taught at Waterloo. The report highlights that lecturers are being tasked with a wide range of teaching loads.
  3. 70% of lecturers teach in all three terms. Lecturers are entitled to take one out of every six terms as a non-teaching term, yet only one-third of lecturers have ever had a non-teaching term. As for the others, it seems that the possibility, the conditions, and the perception of requesting a non-teaching term are not clear.
  4. There is also a lack of clarity around what is expected of lecturers in terms of service roles. The survey demonstrates great involvement of lecturers in their units, but uncertainty about their eligibility for a number of roles.
  5. The suggested options for new titles to replace the terms “Lecturer” and “Continuing Lecturer.” The preferred set of titles was Assistant Professor / Associate Professor / Professor, Teaching Stream.
The Committee shared some highlights of this report at FAUW’s Fall General Meeting in 2015. This final report synthesizes additional comments from the respondents in these five areas, and also on topics not covered in the survey, such as short-term and “less-a-day” contracts, respect for lecturers among other faculty, and compensation.

The full report is available on the FAUW website.

FAUW is very grateful to the Lecturers Committee for this insightful report.

Friday, November 4, 2016

President's Report to Members

Sally Gunz, FAUW President

This is one of my semi-regular updates on what is happening with FAUW. It is timely as we have recently received the results of the vote on the proposed changes to the performance evaluation provisions (now approved by the Board of Governors) of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) and can now move forward to other topics. Thanks very much for your participation in this exercise.

Memorandum of Agreement

The MoA remains one of the primary focuses of our activities as it clearly has a number of flaws that affect the terms and conditions of employment. The Faculty Relations Committee (FRC) has agreed to consider major issues brought forward by FAUW one at a time. It is a lengthy process with many eyes on drafting because it is simply too easy to make mistakes. After agreement is reached at FRC, the next step is for members to vote and then changes are presented to the Board of Governors. We expect another round of changes to come before the membership in the late winter 2017 and will keep you updated at the general meeting in December.

Sexual Violence Policy Update

Sally Gunz, FAUW President

A number of you will have been following issues relating to the new policy on sexual violence (Policy 42). The province has mandated that all Ontario universities have sexual violence policies in place by January 1, 2017. There is no flexibility in terms of the date. The draft presented at the last Senate meeting was the work of PACE (Provost’s Advisory Committee on Equity) and was headed by the university equity officer, Mahejabeen Ebrahim.

FAUW is supportive of this initiative and very grateful for all PACE’s hard work. Our concerns in no way are a reflection of the effort and contribution of all involved in creating the current draft. Rather, and put quite simply, developing and approving a fully working policy and procedures within the timeline imposed by the government was a near impossible task. The Policy 33 (Ethical Behavior) revision committee has been grappling with closely related issues for a lengthy period and has still not managed to propose a workable process.

The policy itself was approved by the Board of Governors on October 25th and FAUW was supportive. FAUW and others argued for the delay of the accompanying procedures/protocols because the current version had elements with which we could not agree.

FAUW’s concerns

Our most immediate concerns involve aspects that relate to potential disciplinary investigations and measures against faculty members, as these touch directly upon the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA). We need to ensure that these are handled in a way that is fully consistent with the principles of natural justice.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Putting a Face on Contract Faculty Members: A Recent Study

Guest post by Kate Lawson for CAUT’s Fair Employment Week

Most of us would agree that academic jobs should be good jobs. But many of us have little knowledge of the real working conditions and academic background of contract faculty members, colleagues who are also known as “sessionals” or “part-timers.”

A recently published study by C.C. Field and G.A. Jones from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) provides much-needed data about who contract faculty are at Ontario universities.

If you think that “sessionals” teach “part-time” by choice, that they lack a terminal degree, do not engage in research, or teach “on the side” because they have a full-time job elsewhere, then you are thinking of what Field and Jones call classic sessionals. In their study, classics sessionals comprise 24.8% of those surveyed.

By contrast, 61.3% of contract faculty are what they term precarious sessionals who rely on their income from instructional work.

Field and Jones state that they use “the term ‘precarious’ for two reasons: first, many are working full-time equivalent workloads (when courses are available) on a semester-by semester basis, with little or no job security; and second, these sessionals are likely to be either hopeful or disillusioned with the idea of having a full-time permanent career in the academy.”

So who are the “precarious sessionals,” according to Field and Jones?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

City of Waterloo Neighbourhood Strategy Consultations

The City of Waterloo is developing a neighbourhood strategy and is looking for faculty to participate.

What do you love about Waterloo neighbourhoods? What are your great ideas for making Waterloo neighbourhoods even better? 

The city is looking for 12 faculty members to join a discussion and share their vision for even stronger, more connected neighbourhoods in Waterloo! 

October 17, 12:00 p.m. to 1:20 p.m. in Needles Hall, room 3043. 

The City of Waterloo will welcome the first 12 people to RSVP to Janet at neighbourhoods@waterloo.ca.

Please bring a bag lunch, coffee and cookies will be provided.