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    • 15 APR 24
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    Policy 5401 Recap: A Small Win, A Larger Issue

    Policy 5401 Recap: A Small Win, A Larger Issue

    Since fall 2023, the FSA has attempted to keep members up-to-date with the latest happenings on Policy 5401. Our posts can be found through a search of the “5401” tag on our website. Below, Vice President Shannon Kelly summarizes the recent Board of Governors’ decision to approve the proposed changes and outlines next steps.   

    A Small But Important Win

    Recapping the journey of Policy 5401

    This policy went very quickly from the revision stage in November, 2023 to a comparatively rushed approval at Education Council (EdCo) and Board of Governors (BOG) — rushed compared to, for example, the recent attendance policy revision, which was introduced last year and is still in the revision stages.

    Along the way, the FSA raised concerns with BCIT regarding the hasty speed of the process and the seeming lack of robust consultation.

    Although these concerns have not yet been fully addressed, we did achieve a small win thanks to the FSA Members sitting on EdCo. Your elected EdCo FSA representatives proposed an amendment to the policy motion (which passed). The result? The revised Policy 5401 will be held to a tight 2-year review window (instead of the standard 7-year+ review window).

    This 2-year review window means the FSA can start work immediately towards setting up a representative working group for Policy 5401’s next review as soon as possible — with ample faculty representation and better transparency and accountability built into the process.

    The FSA’s position was never “for” or “against” Policy 5401. We are concerned with the lack of sufficient transparency and accountability in the consultation process. Through FSA Member, Board, and Staff presence at the most recent BOG and EdCo meetings, and through our advocacy efforts over the past months, we have raised awareness about our concerns with BCIT and its governance bodies.

    It is worth noting that considerable discussion did occur at the April 3 BOG meeting, with questions raised by FSA leadership, FSA Members, and several members of the BOG.

    The Next Chapter(s)

    One chapter closed when Policy 5401 was approved by the BOG on April 3, 2024. And now, a new chapter of advocacy begins.

    Follow Up With EdCo

    The FSA is following up with EdCo about some unresolved issues.

    • The failure of EdCo to provide any response (not even a confirmation of receipt) to Departments and individuals who sent feedback to EdCo during the community consultation phase. To receive no acknowledgement from EdCo, even when follow up was requested multiple times, is dismissive at best and signals a flawed consultation mechanism.
    • The existence of inaccuracies on the EdCo briefing note associated with Policy 5401. For example, the briefing note lists a series of so-called consultation meetings. However, prior to Fall 2023, any discussions held were not about Policy 5401 but rather about something referred to as the “Credential Framework Review”; policy specifics were not discussed in this series of meetings.
    • Lack of transparency about EdCo Policy 5401 working group. Despite asking several times, we have not received confirmation from EdCo that a proper working group existed, including faculty voices. A high level “Credential Framework Review Task Group” held meetings many months before Policy 5401 was edited, but this group was disbanded in June, 2023 and had no involvement in Policy 5401 revision.
    • Apparent need for better process guidelines for the EdCo Standing Policy Committee. At the EdCo meeting on March 20, it was shared in open session that only managers reviewed the community’s submissions: specifically, the EdCo Chair, Vice Chair, Standing Policy Committee Chair, and Policy Champion. No faculty participated in reviewing or responding to community submissions, even though faculty sit on the Standing Policy Committee.

    Monitor Long Term Implications

    The FSA will continue to actively monitor related issues.

    • We want to work more closely with Members, Departments, and School Quality Committees (SQC’s) engaged in the Program Approval/ Program Review/ Major Change Process. Our goal is to ensure sufficient consultation and transparency occur earlier in the process and with more visible (and publicly shared) checkpoints along the way. We also need to ensure a feedback loop for the Policy 5401 two-year policy review process.
    • We want to offer more support and resources to our members on relevant committees and bodies including FSA representatives on EdCo, BOG, SQC’s, and other education, policy, and governance bodies whose decisions impact our members.
    • We will be looking more closely at the governance structure of EdCo; in particular, the lack of proportionate faculty representation on the Standing Policy Committee.

    The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), with which we are affiliated, states that

    Academic freedom requires that academic staff play a major role in the governance of the institution. Academic staff members shall constitute at least a majority on committees or collegial governing bodies responsible for academic matters including but not limited to curriculum, assessment procedures and standards, appointment, tenure, and promotion.

    In other words, decisions about education policies, such as decisions made by the EdCo Standing Policy Committee when discussing 5000-series (education) policies, should be made with majority faculty representation.

    We have substantial work to do in the coming months and years, but we are determined to work together to improve academic decision making and collegial governance at BCIT in ways that benefit our members.

    In solidarity.


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