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Ontario’s university faculty troubled by results of Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey

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TORONTO – Ontario’s university faculty were troubled to learn the results of the Ontario Government’s Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey released today. It is deeply disturbing that over 63 per cent of university students surveyed disclosed an experience of sexual harassment and that sexual violence remains so pervasive on campus. These results point to the hard work still needed to create campuses and communities free of sexual harassment and violence.

“It’s deeply disturbing to see just how pervasive sexual harassment and violence is for students attending Ontario’s universities,” said Gyllian Phillips, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. “As faculty, and as members of the university community, we are committed to continuing to work with students and universities towards eliminating sexual violence on our campuses.”

University faculty are pleased to see the provincial government focusing on efforts to support universities and students, including increasing funding for the Women’s Campus Safety Grant. However, the money will do little to make up for the hundreds of millions of dollars pulled out of the university system earlier this year. Faculty will be looking for the government to demonstrate a commitment to postsecondary education and the vital support services universities provide by increasing investments in Ontario’s universities in the coming budget.

It is also important to acknowledge that it is campus students’ unions and campus media who have been leaders in pointing out the shortcomings in university, college, and government policy on sexual violence and sexual harassment campus. They have been at the forefront of the work to create better sexual violence prevention policies on campus. It is, therefore, unfortunate that the government made today’s announcement while continuing their attacks on the very student organizations that have been so instrumental in raising awareness and driving progress on these issues.

“The government should stop undermining the ability of students’ unions to support and advocate on behalf of their members through the Student Choice Initiative,” said Phillips. “Instead, this government should support students by investing in postsecondary education and ensuring that universities and students’ unions have the resources to support a campus free from sexual violence.”

Sexual violence is unacceptable. The results of this survey demonstrate the severity of the problem on university and college campuses and the need for substantial resources and strong students’ unions and campus media to effectively address these issues. Faculty are committed to this work and to partnering with students, staff, university administrators, and the provincial government to create safer campuses.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 29 faculty associations across Ontario. For more information, please visit www.ocufa.on.ca.

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For more information and to arrange interviews, contact:
Ben Lewis, Communications Lead at 416-306-6033 or blewis@ocufa.on.ca

New OCUFA video highlights the importance of faculty mentorship

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Students come to university to learn, but only so much can be learned from a textbook. Active, engaged learning happens in the classroom when professors get to know students – their interests and their goals. In this new video from OCUFA, Ontario students talk about how their professors have helped them succeed. Their stories illustrate the importance of public funding, small class sizes, and good jobs for ensuring faculty have the time to support their students outside of class.

Watch it now:

OCUFA – The importance of mentorship from OCUFA on Vimeo.

Register to stream the 2019 Worldviews Lecture by Tanya Talaga

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Next Tuesday, March 19, Tanya Talaga will be delivering the 2019 Worldviews Lecture on Media and Higher Education. The lecture is sold out, but we are streaming it online for free.

Truth and reconciliation in higher education and the media:
What are the responsibilities? What is needed to overcome the legacy of colonialism?

When: Tuesday, March 19, 2019, 7pm to 9pm.

In 2015, the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was released, resulting in many universities and media outlets attempting to address the report’s calls to action. There are concerns that the initiatives undertaken have been ad hoc and do not address the ongoing legacy of colonialism.

Join us for an engaging talk by Tanya Talaga about the legacy of cultural genocide in Canada and her hope for a more inclusive and equitable future.

Her talk will be followed by a panel of media professionals and academics (including David Newhouse, Chair of the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies at Trent University; Jesse Wente, Director of the Indigenous Screen Office; Hayden King, Yellowhead Institute and Ryerson University; and Susan Hill, Centre for Indigenous Studies, University of Toronto).

The discussion will further explore issues of reconciliation in the media and higher education.

Register to stream the lecture for free: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/worldviews-lecture-on-media-and-higher-education-tickets-57525920577

Students to hold walk out at noon on March 20

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Join students from across Ontario in a walk out on Wednesday, March 20 at 12 pm. The walk out is designed to demonstrate to the Ontario government that attacks on students and student union democracy will not be tolerated.

Students will be walking out of classes and calling on the government to:

  • provide more grants, not loans,
  • eliminate tuition fees for all students,
  • increase public funding for public education,
  • protect students’ independent voices, and
  • demand the right to organize.

Walk outs have been organized across Ontario. Click here to see if there is a walk out being organized near you.

For more information, please email wethestudents@cfsontario.ca.

OCUFA publishes research findings on university governance in Ontario

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In early 2018, OCUFA formed an ad hoc committee on university governance with a mandate to collect data on the current governance practices of Ontario universities and articulate a vision for collegial governance. This initiative resulted from an increasing concern among faculty associations about the erosion of collegial governance at Ontario’s universities.

The committee’s research work commenced in the spring of 2018 with a detailed survey that collected comprehensive governance data from every university faculty association in Ontario. The data entailed information about governance structures and processes including senate and board structures and practices, searches for senior administrators, budgets and finances, and general university governance.

The survey results supported many concerns among faculty associations regarding the state of collegial governance, including:

  • a growing prevalence of closed, secretive searches for senior administrators;
  • a lack of meaningful consultation with campus community members regarding senior administrative searches;
  • a growing trend in the use of professional hiring and consulting firms to administer search processes;
  • a lack of accountability and reporting procedures for the internal members of Boards of Governors/Trustees;
  • a lack of diversity and proper representation on Boards of Governors;
  • practices and policies that require faculty and staff members to relinquish their union membership to sit on Boards;
  • a lack of meaningful training and orientation for members on Boards of Governors and Senates; and
  • a lack of proper, meaningful consultation regarding university budgets and finances.

Read the full interim report on collegial governance at Ontario universities here.

Power of Many: Take Back Ontario Conference

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On March 25, the Ontario Federation of Labour is hosting a province-wide conference in Toronto that will bring together labour leaders, activists, and community allies. At the conference, participants will develop strategies for mobilizing our workplaces and communities to more effectively push back against the regressive agenda of the Doug Ford government.

This one-day conference will roll out the OFL’s full campaign strategy and outline plans for a series of escalating actions leading up to June 7, the one year anniversary of the provincial election. The conference will feature engaging speakers and the launch of new organizing and educational tools.

The conference will provide a good opportunity for faculty to connect with other university and education labour leaders and plug in to a broader campaign to protect good jobs and education quality in Ontario.

Anyone interested in attending can register online for only $25.

QUFA ratifies a new collective agreement

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The Queen’s University Faculty Association has ratified a three-year agreement with the Queen’s University administration. Members of QUFA also voted yes in the consent vote for the conversion of the pension plan to the University Pension Plan. If the UPP is created, the expiry of the Collective Agreement will move from April 30 to June 30 of 2022. The negotiations for the renewal of the Collective Agreement and the University Pension Plan consent vote were tied together because of the proximity of the expiry of the Collective Agreement and the consent vote. The Association achieved across-the-board salary increases comparable to other faculty associations. Other achievements included harmonization of the normal retirement date, recognition of Queen’s service for the unreduced early retirement option of the UPP, offsets for UPP contribution increases, and voluntary phased retirement as well as enhanced post-retirement benefits such as drug cards for retirees.

OCUFA’s 157th Board of Directors meeting

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On Saturday, February 9 and Sunday, February 10, OCUFA held its second Board of Directors meeting of the 2018-19 academic year. Over the weekend, board members discussed the organization’s current priorities – good jobs, university funding, and capacity building – with a focus on challenges to the postsecondary sector under the current government. During a special lunchtime reception on the Saturday, board members and colleagues celebrated the winner of OCUFA’s Lorimer Award, which recognizes those who have improved the terms and conditions of employment of Ontario university faculty through bargaining, and the winners of the Status of Women and Equity Award of Distinction, which recognizes faculty whose work has improved the lives and working conditions of academics who are Indigenous, women, racialized, LGBTQ2S+, living with disabilities and/or belong to other historically marginalized groups.

Reflecting on Indigenizing Ontario universities

A special talk was presented by David Newhouse, who is Onondaga from the Six Nations of the Grand River community near Brantford, Ontario, was the first Principal of the new Peter Gzowski College at Trent University and Chair of the Department of Indigenous Studies. He is also an Associate Professor in the Business Administration Program. He presented on reconciliation and indigenization in the context of Ontario universities, including on the hiring of indigenous faculty, and his talk was followed by a lively discussion in which board members engaged Newhouse on the substantive topics in his presentation.

Celebrating excellence in teaching and promoting equity

A special luncheon ceremony celebrated the recipients of OCUFA’s awards.

Steven Bednarski, professor at St. Jerome’s University won the 2018 Lorimer Award.
Established in honour of Doug and Joyce Lorimer, who were instrumental in advancing faculty association collective bargaining in Ontario, the Lorimer Award recognizes individuals who have worked to protect and promote the interests of Ontario’s academic staff through collective bargaining.

Over the past ten years, Steven has played a pivotal role as a negotiator or chief negotiator in four rounds of bargaining. With a remarkable sense of solidarity, Steven has fostered a sense of community, both on the team and within the broader association membership. His capacity for research, sharp intellect, meticulous record keeping, and generosity is well known among his colleagues at St. Jerome’s and across.

Susan Hillock, associate professor at Trent University and Lianne Leddy, assistant professor at Wilfrid Laurier University both won the 2018 Status of Women and Equity Award of Distinction.

The award, sponsored by OCUFA’s Status of Women and Equity Committee, recognizes faculty whose work has improved the lives and working conditions of academics who are Indigenous, women, racialized, LGBTQ2S+, living with disabilities and/or belong to other historically marginalized groups.

Professor Leddy is a mentor to Indigenous students and an ally to other faculty and staff. She is widely respected for her knowledge and expertise and has served as the Indigenous Studies Program Coordinator for three years, was a member of the Indigenous Research Ethics Conference organizing committee, and actively supports other departments and programs in the university with their efforts to incorporate Indigenous curriculum.

Professor Hillock is the founding director of the Department of Social Work at Trent University. In her work, she uses a feminist lens to explore gender, sexuality, and anti-oppression training in social work. She has worked tirelessly to engage Trent staff in discussions of equity in terms of gender and queer equality. In particular, she has focused on recruitment, hiring, and retention of faculty and staff, as well as the recruitment and retention of students

The next OCUFA Board of Directors meeting will be held May 25-26, 2019.

Worldviews lecture: Truth and Reconciliation in higher education and the media: What are the responsibilities? What is needed to overcome the legacy of colonialism?

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Mark your calendars! On Tuesday, March 19th, 2019, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, the Center for the Study of Canadian and International Higher Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education-University of Toronto, the Ryerson School of Journalism, Inside Higher Ed, and University World News will be hosting the fifth annual Worldviews Lecture on Media and Higher Education.

Truth and Reconciliation in higher education and the media: What are the responsibilities? What is needed to overcome the legacy of colonialism?

Speaker: Tanya Talaga

In 2015, the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was released, resulting in many universities and media outlets attempting to address the report’s calls to action. There are concerns that the initiatives undertaken have been ad hoc and do not address the ongoing legacy of colonialism.

Join us for an engaging talk by Tanya Talaga about the legacy of cultural genocide in Canada and her hope for a more inclusive and equitable future. Her talk will be followed by a panel of media professionals and academics (including Hayden King, Yellowhead Institute and Susan Hill, Centre for Indigenous Studies, University of Toronto). The discussion will further explore issues of reconciliation in the media and higher education.

Date and time: Tuesday, March 19, 2019, 7pm to 9pm.

Location: The Catalyst at FCAD, Ryerson University, 80 Gould Street – RCC 230, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5B 2K3

Registration: This is a free public event but advance registration is required.
For more information and to register (coming soon!) please visit: http://worldviewsconference.com

The Worldviews Lecture is organized by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, the Centre for the Study of Canadian and International Higher Education at the University of Toronto, and the Ryerson School of Journalism. It is made possible with the generous support of the Academica Group, Inside Higher Ed, and University World News.

Fairness for Contract Faculty Social Media Day of Action

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On Monday, February 11, faculty, staff, students, and community members across Ontario participated in OCUFA’s annual social media day of action in support of fairness for contract faculty.

The day was a tremendous success. The hashtag #Fairness4CF was heavily used by community members to voice their support for fairness for contract faculty.

This year’s social media day of action highlighted the fact that issues facing tenure-stream faculty and contract faculty issues are two sides of the same coin, namely the lack of investment in postsecondary education.

The chronic underfunding of postsecondary education has meant that tenure-stream faculty often face challenging workloads. This is especially true as contract faculty teach 58 per cent of all courses at Ontario’s universities. They are hired on precarious short-term contracts and are only compensated for teaching, not research or service work. Hiring full-time tenure-stream faculty instead of precariously employed faculty would ensure fairness for contract faculty and spread the workload more equally among all academic staff.

OCUFA would like to thank faculty, staff, students, and community members across Ontario for their support of the fairness for contract faculty campaign.

Students and Educators hold press conference at Queen’s Park

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On Tuesday, February 19, OCUFA participated in a press conference organized by the Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario at Queen’s Park. OCUFA Vice-President Rahul Sapra joined a panel of speakers including Nour Alideeb, Chairperson of CFS-Ontario; Sam Hammond, President of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario and RM Kennedy, Chair of the College Academic Division of OPSEU. The panel focused on the adverse effects of the government’s recent changes to the student assistance program (OSAP), the tuition fee cut without an increase in core funding for colleges and universities, and the attack on students’ rights.

The speakers shared their concerns about the government’s pattern of decision making without consulting sector stakeholders. The speakers noted that the January 17th announcement is a direct attack on student governance, representation, and voices and will make postsecondary education in Ontario less accessible.

The press conference also marked the launch of the “We The Students” campaign. To find out more about the campaign and the upcoming events and actions click here.

OCUFA Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching Working Group Report

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The report of the OCUFA Working Group on Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching (SQCT) has now been released. Prompted by increasing reports of the misuse of results and the harassment of faculty through anonymous comments, and by suggestions in the policy community that SQCT scores be used as university “performance” metrics, OCUFA established the working group in 2016 to examine these issues.

Please read the full report and summary by clicking here.

Ryerson Faculty Association awarded contract extension by arbitrator

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The Ryerson Faculty Association has been awarded a two-year contract extension by Arbitrator William Kaplan with an expiry of June 30, 2020. The arbitrator’s award included sector comparable salary increases. The arbitrator also awarded the faculty association funds for the provision of retirement benefits and to address the gender pay gap, as well as a voluntary retirement incentive. Finally, The arbitrator directed the parties to meet and discuss the issue of teaching stream, on a no prejudice basis, prior to the next round of bargaining.

Support Ontario students in their call for action

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The Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario has launched a letter writing campaign to tell Doug Ford, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Merrilee Fullerton, and MPPs that the government’s attack on students’ unions and student rights does not represent the interests of students or faculty.

This campaign is in response to the Ford government’s decision to cut tuition fees by 10 per cent without increasing funding to universities, revert back to 2016-17 OSAP levels which rely heavily on student loans instead of grants, and to undermine student rights and student unions by making ancillary fees, including student fees, optional.

To add your voice to this important initiative, you can send the letter here.