FSA President Peter Fenrich and Executive Director, Jude Morrison recently attended the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) 3-day Council meeting on November 16, 17 and 18. Topics included extensive updates and discussion on Academic Freedom and the several cases underway. CAUT is providing valuable support in terms of defense funds and legal support to defend these important rights for faculty across the country.
Peter attended a session on Indigenization of Post-Secondary Institutions: one that aligns with the groundbreaking work done by FSA members Shannon Kelly and Zaa Joseph in the creation of Diversity Circles. There is a new Indigenous Strategic Plan underway for BCIT and we are appreciative of the time that many of our members offered in the development of the plan. As well, Indigenous Services and support for Indigenous students, staff, and faculty forms an important part of the draft BCIT Strategic Plan recently unveiled.
Jude attended a session on the importance of equity within post-secondary institutions. The FSA has long called for deeper work on issues of equity and we look forward to continuing that work. Of note, Dr. Annette Henry of UBC was present to receive the CAUT 2018 Teachers Equity Award for her work in this area. We congratulate Dr. Henry for the recognition of the incredibly important work she does, despite the barriers that continue to exist. The FSA is in the process of striking an Equity Caucus and the board has appointed FSA Director Zaa Joseph as the liaison. Jude has reached out to both Dr. Henry and the Equity Committee at the CAUT in an effort to further our work in this area.
We also joined with other faculty associations to deplore the efforts on the part of the incoming provincial government to reverse the recent gains in the minimum wages in Ontario. We are grateful that the CAUT sees beyond our own doors to recognize that we must use our voices in the academic realm to benefit everyone in society.
Finally, Ryerson University had a recent win on the use of student surveys. The Ryerson Faculty Association challenged the reliance on student surveys as a highly subjective in the promotion of faculty members. Expert evidence was persuasive to the arbitrator who “found that the evidence presented by the faculty association clearly established the ‘serious and inherent limitations’ of student surveys. That evidence included expert testimony and peer-reviewed publications proving that numerous factors, especially personal characteristics such as race, gender, accent, age and even the level of “attractiveness” of the professor skew the results.” You can read more about this on the CAUT website.
We will be providing further updates from the CAUT Council in coming weeks, once the full policy motions passed are finalized and available to us.
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