Summer update from TUFA

Dear TUFA members,

I hope this summer update finds you well. I had my second Covid-19 vaccination last week and feel relieved and more hopeful. I look forward to our general membership meeting late fall and the December social, hopefully in person or perhaps with some blend of in-person and the virtual. TUFA will investigate the possibilities. It will be lovely to see you all again.

First, TUFA would like to announce the appointment of Professor Dalon Taylor, TUFA’s Equity Officer for 2021-22. Welcome Dalon! We thank you for your willingness to advance this important file on behalf of the Association.

TUFA would also like to celebrate some terrific news from OCUFA: Amy Shawanda, a PhD candidate in Indigenous Studies at Trent, was awarded OCUFA’s 2021 Henry Mandelbaum Graduate Fellowship for Excellence in Social Sciences, Humanities, or Arts. This award acknowledges Amy for excellence in research and her extensive community leadership. Amy’s research about Anishinaabe maternal teachings is advancing the resurgence of these teachings and influencing policy. She is also creating and implementing culturally appropriate educational programming at multiple educational levels. OCUFA’s overview of Amy Shawanda’s accomplishments and further information about this prestigious award can be found here: https://ocufa.on.ca/assets/2021-05-28-Amy-Shawanda-Citation-Updated.pdf. Congratulations, Amy, on this outstanding achievement!

And now, a summer meeting recap:

On May 28 I attended OCUFA Board of Directors Meeting #165. The meeting covered much that is relevant to our membership. A few notes on matters of continuing concern:

·         The Laurentian faculty terminations and restructuring, and the use of CCAA proceedings to break collective agreements.

o   Faculty associations must attend to university finances (TUFA is on it!) and associations must look for other sources of support and advocate for a rededication of provincial support for post-secondary education. We must respond to the attacks on safe, secure work at Ontario universities.

o   Associations are reminded to participate in the Canadian Labour Congress letter writing campaign to amend the CCAA. This campaign urges action on behalf of Laurentian but also calls for the exclusion of publicly funded institutions from CCAA proceedings; this would ensure that no other university could be subjected to this draconian process.

§  If you would like to send a (pre-written) letter on behalf of Laurentian, please follow this link: https://canadianlabour.ca/campaigns/protect-public-institutions-protect-laurentian-university/. Because Laurentian proceedings will be lengthy, it is still worthwhile to submit.

o   Associations collectively must also address the Bankruptcy Insolvency Act, normally used for liquidation, as it can also be invoked as part of the CCAA process (and vice versa).

o   We discussed the findings of an OCUFA/EKOS poll regarding Laurentian funding and Ontarian’s perceptions of post-secondary education and research. Poll results are located via https://ocufa.on.ca/press-releases/ocufa-ekos-poll-provincial-government-should-provide-additional-funding-to-laurentian/

·         Covid-19 changes and workloads associated with online, hyflex and other models.

o   Poor communication, confusion about fall programming and arrangements, legal and other questions about vaccination for students and faculty were discussed.

o   Concerns were raised regarding faculty left responsible for issues outside their expertise, such as rules about spacing, ventilation inquiries and issues, and other health and safety matters.

o   Also discussed were the diversity of viewpoints about a safe return to campus in the fall.

·         OCUFA is undertaking an internal equity review for Indigenous members and persons of colour to increase capacity and develop mentorship programmes.

·         advocacy and political mobilization for good, secure academic jobs and strong funding for academic institutions was emphasized.

·         student experience of teaching surveys and the issue of faculty harassment through anonymous comments was addressed.

o   Also discussed was the problematic use of tools that research shows are discriminatory.

o   New tools are in development (including at Trent).

·         updates were provided regarding the firing of four librarians at OCAD.

o   Concerns were raised about the need to avoid setting bad precedents for OCAD and other Ontario universities.

At the CAUT President’s meeting on June 4, discussion addressed EDI and human rights, academic freedom and threats to the tenure system, and collegial governance. Workload increases in relation to Covid-19 changes to academic work were discussed, alongside poor communication impacting collegial governance during this time. There was some discussion about conflicts between non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements in administrative searches, and concerns about academic freedom and transparent decision-making.

I also recently attended a workshop on legal issues related to academic freedom. We reviewed the history and scope of academic freedom in Canada, considered academic freedom and harmful speech, and covered limits to academic freedom including discrimination, harassment, collegiality, and duties of loyalty. As an aside, the latest issue of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics is devoted to several philosophical papers on academic freedom. It’s on my summer reading list. https://muse-jhu-edu.proxy1.lib.trentu.ca/issue/44688

Most pressing on my reading list, however, is volume four, Canada’s Residential Schools: Missing Children and Unmarked Burials. This is how I will spend July 1, in addition to reflecting on how I may strengthen and grow as an ally for Indigenous colleagues. http://www.trc.ca/assets/pdf/Volume_4_Missing_Children_English_Web.pdf

Wishing you all a restful, creative, and hope-filled summer.

Moira

Moira Howes,

President