CAUT

CAUT Statement on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

(Ottawa – December 3, 2019) The theme of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities centres around promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership. Disability is a cross-cutting issue and this theme focuses on the empowerment of persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development.

Achieving equity, diversity and inclusion in post-secondary education is fundamental to its excellence. Yet, despite institutional principles and employment equity and human rights legislation, there is a paucity of data on academic staff with disabilities, making it difficult to identify and address discrimination and barriers in the academic workplace.

Drawing from the limited data available through the Canadian Survey on Disability, CAUT estimates that one in five academic staff are living with disabilities with pain and mental health-related disability among the most prevalent. The proportion of women with disabilities in academia is less than either men with disabilities or women without disabilities, raising questions of equity.

It is clear that better efforts must be made at all levels to bring into focus the working experiences and conditions of people with disabilities in order to remove barriers and prevent occupational injuries and illnesses. Inclusive employment and education will remain elusive and at great cost to individuals, institutions and society without better workplace data on disabilities.

Laurentian University administration violated academic freedom

(Ottawa – November 21, 2019) The Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) has won an important legal battle in asserting the right to academic freedom across the country.

In December 2015, Dr. Michael Persinger was abruptly removed from teaching a psychology course after the administration received a student complaint. An arbitrator concluded that the administration violated the late professor’s rights.

“It was improper and contrary to the Collective Agreement for the University to have removed Dr. Persinger from teaching (…) and to have issued the related email (…) to students in that course and in doing so to have failed to consider Dr. Persinger’s academic freedom,” writes arbitrator Kevin Burkett in a consent award rendered on November 6.

The decision also binds the administration to follow a proper consultative process going forward and prior to the removal of a professor from the classroom, including assessing the responsibilities and duties of academics, and their right to a full and proper investigation. The University has also agreed to “not publicly invite complaints against faculty members, and (…) never again utilize a stand alone telephone number for complaints”.

“This is an important and precedent-setting award for academic staff across the country,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “Academic freedom is a necessary condition for the free pursuit of knowledge and understanding.”

LUFA president Fabrice Colin added that the Association is “Pleased with the decision because it sends a strong signal to our members, but it is a bittersweet victory because Dr. Persinger is no longer with us. We are happy that the University has agreed to award a yearly scholarship in his name to celebrate Dr. Persinger’s internationally recognized contributions to neurosciences and the field of psychology. A staunch defender of academic freedom, Dr. Persinger also received prestigious awards for his teaching and research accomplishments.”

-30-

Media contacts : Valérie Dufour, Director of Communications, Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), 613-293-1810

Fabrice Colin, President, Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) 705-698-6763

Report: Academic Freedom Breached at Thompson Rivers University

(Ottawa – November 19, 2019) An investigation into the suspension of Dr. Derek Pyne by Thompson Rivers University (TRU) has concluded that the administration’s actions breached academic freedom.

The committee of investigation, established by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), found that TRU “appears to suffer a broad institutional weakness when it comes to understanding academic freedom.”

The investigation looked into actions taken in July 2018 by the administration to suspend Dr. Pyne and bar him from campus. Dr. Pyne found himself at the centre of controversy for his research into the use of deceptive journals by administrators and academics at TRU, and for his public criticism of the University and his department, the School of Business and Economics.

The committee notes that the right of academics to criticize their administration and their institution is a widely recognized feature of academic freedom. However, the committee found that at TRU there was a failure to understand academic freedom beyond a “narrow application to support faculty members’ freedom to pursue what they expect to be fruitful avenues of research and publish their results.”

“Our investigation finds that the TRU Administration’s approach in managing workplace complaints against Dr. Pyne failed to properly consider his academic freedom as it applies to his…criticisms of the School of Business and Economics, its administrators and its faculty,” the committee concludes.

The committee makes a number of recommendations, including removing the constraints placed on Dr. Pyne’s speech as a condition of his continuing employment as a faculty member.

The members of the investigatory committee were Dr. Mark Mac Lean, Professor of Mathematics, University of British Columbia (Chair); and Carla Graebner, Librarian for Data Services and Government Information, Simon Fraser University.

-30-

Media contact: Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers; 613-726-5186 (o); 613-222-3530 (c)

Police attacks on Hong Kong university campuses condemned

(Ottawa – November 18, 2019) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is condemning the violent siege of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University by police authorities.  

“Hong Kong police forces have launched military-style attacks against protesters on the two campuses, firing tear gas and rubber bullets at people trying to flee and preventing medical personnel from assisting the injured,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “Attacks on educational institutions are always unacceptable and in this instance are fueling the flames of violence when authorities should be exercising restraint.”

According to reports, hundreds of students have been injured in the police attacks. At CUHK, which has 20,000 students, witnesses say the police raid seemed deliberately provocative, as there was no campus protest before the police launched their assault.

Amnesty International has reported that Hong Kong police forces are using indiscriminate brutality and torture against pro-democracy protesters.

“The latest developments represent an intolerable breach of human rights,” said Robinson. “CAUT and its members demand that Hong Kong authorities immediately end their indiscriminate and violent attacks on protesters, and respect the rights and freedoms of citizens as guaranteed by international standards.”  

Flying and driving pickets show support for striking UNBC faculty

(Prince George — 15 November 2019) Marking the end of the first week of a labour dispute at the University of Northern British Columbia, members of the CAUT Defence Fund flying pickets from across the country are in Prince George today to show solidarity with their colleagues fighting for a fair contract. “We are here to show our unconditional support.

The UNBC faculty association’s negotiating team is working hard to obtain a fair deal for their members, but the administration is still demanding unacceptable concessions on maternity and parental leave, on job protections for contract instructors, and on tenure and promotion,” explains CAUT Treasurer, Yalla Sangaré.

UNBC offers amongst the lowest salaries across the country for assistant, associate and full professors.

“This job action action can be over soon if the administration withdraws its concessionary demands and negotiates a deal that recognizes and respects the important work that academic staff do for their students and their community,” added Sangaré.

For updates and to send letters of support, go to unbcfa.ca

UNBCFA on strike

(Ottawa – November 7, 2019) Members of the University of Northern British Columbia Faculty Association (UNBC-FA) are on strike after negotiations with the employer broke off earlier today. Picket lines are up at the UNBC campuses in Prince George and Terrace.

Faculty Association president Stephen Rader says the employer is demanding concessions on maternity/parental leave, seniority/right of first refusal, and tenure and promotion.

"The faculty association is disappointed to find our members on the picket line again, and remains committed to negotiating a fair contract."

Possible strikes loom

(Ottawa – October 22, 2019) Faculty associations at Cape Breton, Northern British Columbia, and Algoma Universities are preparing for possible strike action failing resolution in their current negotiations.

Members of the Cape Breton University Faculty Association (CBUFA) voted overwhelmingly last week in support of a strike after negotiations stalled. Unresolved issues include fair teaching and research support and wages. The parties have filed for conciliation. “While frustrating, this is not surprising,” CBUFA president Calvin Howley said. “Stalled negotiations have become common practice not only at CBU but at other Nova Scotia universities.”

For Algoma (AUFA), OPSEU local 685 members have voted 86% in favour of a strike on October 11 and the parties are in conciliation. Issues that remain in dispute are wages, the employer asking contract academic staff to commit to an extra 24 hrs per course for office hours without any extra pay, and the employer wants to significantly reduce the free tuition benefit.

The members of the University of Northern British Columbia Faculty Association (UNBC-FA) have given their bargaining team an 84.2% strike mandate. The employer is demanding concessions on maternity/parental leave, seniority/right of first refusal, and tenure and promotion.

World Teachers’ Day: “Young Teachers -- The Future of the Profession”

(Ottawa – October 4, 2019) Tomorrow is World Teachers’ Day (WTD) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) joins with the global education community in celebrating the many accomplishments of the teaching profession, and highlighting the need to ensure the profession is attractive to and supportive of new teachers.

“The success of education at all levels rests upon the foundation of a highly qualified, talented and committed teaching corps,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “Today, particularly in Canada’s colleges and universities, the growth of precarious and insecure academic jobs is undermining the attractiveness of academic work and turning away young talent at a time where there is a pressing need for faculty renewal.”

CAUT is urging governments in Canada to make faculty renewal and decent work a core priority, and to adhere fully to the principles of fair employment embodied in both the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers (1966) and the UNESCO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel (1997).

PDF format

Solidarity with the Week of Climate Action

(Ottawa – September 19, 2019) September 20 marks the beginning of the Week of Climate Action, an international grassroots movement of student activists demanding that world leaders be held accountable for and take immediate steps to combat the climate emergency facing the planet. A week of activities around the world will culminate in a Global Climate Strike on September 27. The Canadian Association of University Teachers stands in solidarity with all those taking part in the Week of Climate Action and the Global Climate Strike, and we join in demanding strong, immediate and effective action on climate change from governments in Canada and around the world.

Climate change is the crisis of our generation. CAUT encourages all its members to take part in the Week of Climate Action by joining local protests and events, supporting students who participate in the climate strike, pressing our institutions to adopt climate-friendly policies and practices, and raising awareness about the science of climate change and the role academic staff as researchers and teachers are playing in finding solutions.

Canadians want an accessible, affordable and high-quality post-secondary sector

(Ottawa – September 2, 2019) Results from a national survey* commissioned by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) indicate a large majority of Canadians value post-secondary education (PSE) and think cost should not be allowed to prevent anyone from pursuing it.

Key findings include:

  • Almost 8 in 10 Canadians agree that students have to borrow too much to pay for their PSE and the cost should never prevent anyone from pursuing an education;
  • Similarly, almost all Canadians (93%) would get a post-secondary degree if they did not have to pay tuition, confirming how much they value the education and recognize the barrier that cost creates;
  • Eight in ten say the effort and time spent getting a higher education is worthwhile, but only 65% think it is worth the cost, and only 31% definitely think so;
  • When informed that one in three PS instructors teach part-time or are on short-term contracts, over half believe this hurts the quality of education.

“The cost of PSE remains a major hurdle for students and Canadians don’t like it. But the problem is deeper than that and survey respondents recognized that fact,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “As governments have reduced funding for universities and colleges, more and more low-paid and tenuously-employed teachers have replaced full-time academics who are invested in the academic integrity of the institutions where they work. This is hurting the quality of education that students receive.”

CAUT is calling on all federal political parties to support PSE the way most Canadians want the government to support it, by:

  • Ensuring that every student who wants to go to college or university can go, regardless of their ability to pay (84%);
  • Investing more in full-time post-secondary teaching positions (85%);
  • Reducing class sizes at colleges and universities (64%);
  • Eliminating post-secondary tuition entirely (61%).

Media contact: Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers; 613-726-5186 (o); 613-222-3530 (c)

-30-

*Methodology – the survey was conducted online with 1500 Canadian residents aged 18 and over, from April 24-30. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random-sample of the same size is +/- 2.53%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment and region. Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Our 2019 federal election toolkit is out!

Canadians will head to the polls on October 21 and CAUT prepared tools for its member associations to be able to make a difference. CAUT’s For Our Future campaign is an issue-based and non-partisan campaign with two goals:

1. To raise awareness about the positive role the federal government could play in strengthening

the post-secondary education (PSE) system; and

2. To get out the student vote for education.

Once the Fall academic semester starts, we will have just under two months to make post-secondary education an election priority. It is essential that we hit the ground running in September.

In the kit, you will find:

  •   Key messages about the campaign;
  •   Steps to help develop your campaign;
  •   Action ideas, tips and resources for engaging members and students in the federal election, and reaching out to candidates; and

Access the kit here.

Budget 2020: Academic & research staff are ready to solve Canada’s emerging problems 

Post-secondary education changes lives and Canada for the better. Through teaching, research and service to the community, Canada’s academic staff, scientists and researchers are key partners in addressing the climate emergency and other economic and social challenges. Canadians need a strong federal partner to work with the provinces to make sure that we have a sustainable research ecosystem, and affordable education for all. 

Read our submission here.

 

Academic & research staff are ready to solve Canada’s emerging problems 

Post-secondary education changes lives and Canada for the better. Through teaching, research and service to the community, Canada’s academic staff, scientists and researchers are key partners in addressing the climate emergency and other economic and social challenges. Canadians need a strong federal partner to work with the provinces to make sure that we have a sustainable research ecosystem, and affordable education for all. 

Read our submission here.

 

Academic & research staff are ready to solve Canada’s emerging problems 

Post-secondary education changes lives and Canada for the better. Through teaching, research and service to the community, Canada’s academic staff, scientists and researchers are key partners in addressing the climate emergency and other economic and social challenges. Canadians need a strong federal partner to work with the provinces to make sure that we have a sustainable research ecosystem, and affordable education for all. 

Read our submission here.