The current CUPE 3903 strike has reached the end of its seventh week and there is no end in sight. Although the degree and type of disruption varies across the University, many YUFA members are feeling very uncertain about the prospects of salvaging their courses or helping extremely vulnerable students who have borne the brunt of the impact. The prospect of losing all or part of the summer schedule is compounding our challenges.
As you know, the Senate Executive has issued a series of announcements outlining the guidelines and rules for course completion and assigning final grades in the context of the CUPE 3903 strike. The thrust of the current Senate remediation document is to lay out options based on (1) the proportion of the course work that has been finalized and (2) whether one’s course has been suspended or has continued. Even where a course has continued, there may be students who have chosen to exercise their right not to participate during the strike. In such cases, the completion of one’s course or the finalization of grades may be especially complex.
YUFA advises all members to read the updated information in the latest Senate Executive document issued on April 12 and consult your Chair or Dean’s/Principal’s office as appropriate.
In response to concerns raised by members, YUFA also would like to alert our colleagues to four key areas where faculty members may need to know about their options and rights in the context of the challenge of remediation during a lengthy and disruptive strike:
- Faculty member’s professional responsibility: Beyond the requirements of the remediation policy, your Dean/Principal cannot expect you to relinquish your own responsibility to exercise your own judgement of how to preserve the academic integrity of your course. Both the Senate policy and our own concern for our students will no doubt lead us to find flexible solutions. Nevertheless, it should also be remembered that, unless the Senate policy explicitly requires you to provide an assessed grade option in a particular circumstance (for example, when 70% of the work has been completed), you have a right and professional responsibility to make your own judgement about the completion of your course and how to preserve its academic integrity while being flexible and fair to students.
- Exceptional circumstances: After laying out the standard options for providing “assessed grades,” the Senate guidelines include the following statement:
“Students in exceptional circumstances may request assessed grades on the basis of work that falls below the 70 per cent threshold. Such requests are dealt with on a case-by-case basis by individual faculty members in the first instance.”
This policy leaves the judgement about whether to provide an assessed grade to the individual faculty member, even in an exceptional circumstance. The policy says that students have a right to request flexibility beyond the standard assessed grade options when there is an exceptional circumstance (family commitment, etc.), but whether such flexibility should be granted and how it should be balanced against considerations about the academic integrity of your course is, according to YUFA’s understanding, subject to the professional judgement of the faculty member.
- Can I be asked to do the work of striking workers? Members of YUFA cannot be expected to do the work of members of CUPE 3903 who are on strike. That would be asking you to take on an extra teaching assignment and extra work beyond your normal teaching load, which would be a violation of your rights under your collective agreement. It would also amount to an inappropriate request that our members interfere in the labour dispute between the York administration and CUPE 3903.
- Remuneration for additional teaching associated with remediation: In order to follow Senate policy, and in order to protect the standards of fairness to students and academic integrity, it is possible that some of our members may need to perform extra hours of work in their own courses to achieve the goals of remediation. For example, developing multiple pathways in the same course to allow students to complete their assignments and access to course materials may require extra work of this type.
YUFA and the Employer are in agreement that the process carried out during the 2015 strike, wherein faculty members were required to submit a statement of extra hours worked that qualify for remuneration, would be followed again in 2018. This remuneration would be made at the hourly rate stipulated in Article 25.09 ($36.12) of the Collective Agreement. The Employer has not yet responded to our request for full practical details of how the process would work. In the meantime, YUFA advises all members to keep a log of all extra hours worked.