We've moved! The FAUW blog is now located at and this site is no longer being updated.

Monday, August 13, 2018

We've Moved! Our blog, that is

The FAUW blog is moving to a new home at and we hope you'll come with us.

If you're subscribed to this blog, you'll receive an invitation to follow the new one soon. You will need to accept the invitation in order to keep getting these email notifications—we can't add you without your permission.

Why are we moving?

We're switching to a platform that is easier for us to update and manage. It also looks better and is easier to keep compliant with web accessibility standards.

What about all the existing content?

All of our current content has been copied to the new blog. This site will be online for a couple of months while we find all the links from our website and point them to the new one.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Ryerson Arbitration Decision Regarding Use of Student Evaluations of Teaching

A decision has come in regarding the use of Student Evaluations of Teaching at Ryerson University.

Below is a summary excerpted from the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) blog.

Read the full decision: Ryerson University v Ryerson Faculty Association, 2018 CanLII 58446 (ON LA)

A recent arbitration award between the Ryerson Faculty Association and Ryerson University has established an important precedent for faculty associations, and lends support to others who have been arguing that student questionnaires are deeply problematic instruments for the purpose of evaluating faculty members’ teaching effectiveness.

It is telling that “student evaluations of teaching” or SETs, as the arbitrator chooses to call them, have been a “live issue” between the university and the Ryerson Faculty Association for fifteen years. In that time, not only have SETs been a recurrent point of contention for other faculty associations for reasons similar to those addressed in the arbitration, but other grounds for concern have come to the fore. In response, OCUFA established a working group to examine “SETs” and their use, broaching a number of issues, including some that were not before the arbitrator for the Ryerson decision.

Arbitrator William Kaplan lends critical momentum with his award. He accepted the expert evidence of Professors Philip Stark and Richard Freishtat that student evaluations of teaching cannot be used to assess teaching effectiveness. Kaplan’s award, and Freishtat’s and Stark’s pivotal reports are available online.

While Mr. Kaplan does find that SETs can continue to be used in the context of tenure and promotion decisions, he asserts that they cannot be used for the purposes of measuring teaching effectiveness for promotion or tenure.

OCUFA has been using the term Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching (SQCTs) to describe these evaluations. When it releases its report in October, the OCUFA Working Group on SQCTs will have more to say with respect to the methodological, ethical, and human rights implications of student questionnaires.

Continue reading on the OCUFA blog.

Acknowledgement: This story incorporates and adapts a summary prepared by Emma Phillips, Partner at Goldblatt Partners, LLP.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

News From Your Board: June 21 Meeting Recap

The FAUW board gathered on June 21 for a special lunch meeting to acknowledge the service of those members who are finishing their terms and to welcome new representatives before breaking for the summer.

Of special note is that Sally Gunz, long-time board member and past FAUW president, is ending her term and embarking on a well-deserved sabbatical. Sally provided inspired leadership for FAUW over many years and was always ready with a witty anecdote, sage advice, or occasional salty barb. We also noted the departure of three fine board members, Craig Hardiman (Arts), Peter Johnson (Environment and scribe of these summaries though not these particular compliments!) and Heather Mair (AHS). They have all contributed much to FAUW and we hope to retain close links with them. We are very grateful for all their work.

We look forward to working with your new Board members, Daniel Cockayne (Geography), Clark Dickerson (Kinesiology), and Alice Kuzniar (Germanic and Slavic Studies), when meetings start up again in September.

Responding to member requests from the recent Spring AGM, treasurer Dan Brown brought forth some initial scoping of a change to the way that FAUW dues are calculated. Currently, they are based on the average salary of each rank, which is not a typical practice at other universities. We will be proposing to switch to the more common—and more equitable—practice of calculating dues based based on members’ actual (base) salaries. This will be put to the membership for approval, likely in the fall.

FAUW President Bryan Tolson presented an update of FAUW’s GoFundMe campaign to raise money to support multiculturalism on campus. Fundraising has now closed at $13,329, and FAUW will distribute funds to three recipients:

Monday, June 18, 2018

Trauma in the Classroom for Indigenous Scholars: How Should We Respond?

This is the second in a series of book reviews written by FAUW's Indigenization Working Group.

Cote-Meek, Sheila. Colonized Classrooms: Racism, Trauma and Resistance in Post-Secondary Education. Fernwood, 2014. 175 pp.

—Shannon Dea, Department of Philosophy

Earlier this year, in the days and weeks following the devastating one-two punch of the acquittals of two White men on trial for the murders of Colton Boushie and Tina Fontaine, many post-secondary educators asked themselves how they should respond in the classroom. To discuss the topic, CBC Radio One turned to Sheila Cote-Meek, whose 2014 Colonized Classrooms addressed the matter square-on.

Sheila Cote-Meek is a professor of Indigenous Relations, and Associate Vice President of Academic & Indigenous Programs at Laurentian University. In Colonized Classrooms, she reports on and extrapolates from her doctoral dissertation, for which she interviewed fifteen Indigenous university students, faculty members and Elders. Cote-Meek uses Indigenous, post-colonial, feminist, and critical race scholarship ranging from Frantz Fanon and bell hooks to Gregory Cajete and Laara Fitznor to frame and expand upon what she learned in those interviews.

The book is organized around two central questions:
[H]ow do Aboriginal1 students confront curriculum on colonial history that is marked by violence, in the classroom? And, what pedagogies, healing or otherwise, might be useful for Aboriginal students in post-secondary classrooms that cover the topic of colonial violence on Aboriginal peoples when those students have suffered from colonial violence, a violence that remains ongoing? (9)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

News From Your Board: June 7 Meeting Recap

The board met for the last time this academic year in its basement home in MC. We began by hearing from Daniel Miller from Electrical and Computer Engineering who presented an analysis of early retirement policies based on those of the University of Toronto and other schools. FAUW will look at this further.

For several weeks, FAUW has been working on a response to a draft document on student academic accommodation procedures. The board will continue to work with the Equity Committee to identify feedback for Jennifer Gillies, associate director of AccessAbility Services. If you have feedback, please contact Katie Damphouse by Friday, June 15.

An outstanding issue is that of FAUW having access to faculty appointment letters on a limited basis to assist in our role of counselling new faculty. The board believes that having this information will significantly improve the support we can provide to new faculty members, and while we are at currently an impasse, we will keep working on making this happen.

A few board members gave updates on current policy initiatives and issues, including that Policy 43 (Special Conditions for Employment for Deans) has recently had an explanatory appendix attached, which is contrary to the process for FS policies. This is being addressed.

We reviewed drafts of upcoming surveys for both volunteers and all members. Look for those in your email by the end of the month. Your feedback will shape FAUW’s work in the future.

Finally, this is a time of transition. Shortly (after one more blog post) both authors of the News From Your Board series (Peter Johnson and Sally Gunz) will end their terms on the board. We await a new and high quality version of the series this fall with baited breath! Thanks for your patience with our scribbles.

—Sally Gunz, past president

Friday, June 1, 2018

News From Your Board: May 24 Meeting Recap

Returning from the Victoria Day long weekend, a rowdy and energized board assembled to review many in-progress issues. We began with the implementation of the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH) report, specifically how FAUW can support the recommendations on training for faculty. The Board expressed support for these recommendations, and suggests that faculty voluntarily engage in additional mental health training as provided on campus. We’ll have more on this in another post soon.

The second issue brought to us directly from members is the lack of secure bicycle parking on campus. The Board wants to support improved bike parking and hopes to see Parking Services commit more resources to this in the future. Discussions will continue on this topic.

Next, everyone’s favourite topic—the Fall Break pilot—made a reappearance, specifically preferred semester start dates after Labour day, and how changes would affect faculty who teach in the spring term and sessional or contract faculty who are only paid as of the first day of class.

Responsible Investing Working Group Report Going to Board of Governors on June 5

The Responsible Investing Working Group (RIWG) released its report to the University community for the first time on Thursday, May 31, as part of the agenda package of the Board of Governors (BoG) meeting happening in only a few days (Tuesday, June 5). The agenda contains a motion to endorse and implement the report recommendations.

This working group was formed in response to the strong interest and advocacy of some UW community delegations. It was tasked with making recommendations on whether and how to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into decision making for the investment of the university's endowments and your pension funds.

Our members are keenly interested in how their pensions are managed. In a March 28 blog post, we said we would “seek input from members and formulate a response” when the report was released.

As I hope you will understand, FAUW is unable to keep our commitment to you. Four working days is not enough time for the FAUW Board to read and understand the report and then gather feedback on it from our members. As such, we requested that this agenda item be for information only at the June 5 BoG meeting, thereby delaying the vote until the next meeting, in October. This request was denied.