YUFA guidance on Senate Policy

In a recent communication, the Senate Executive affirmed Senate Policy that individual faculty members are best positioned to determine how academic integrity will be preserved in their courses during a “short disruption,” as defined by the Senate Policy

On the eve of the CUPE 3903 strike, some YUFA members received directives from their Dean/Principal advising that they communicate with students via eClass and report alterations, including in the mode of delivery. Alarmingly, members who had already made a determination and advised students accordingly discovered a banner in their eClass sections stating those courses are proceeding as “normal.” In the Faculty of LAPS, the Dean declared late Monday afternoon that individual faculty members are to report their decision about suspending a class by the end of the week via a MACH form, and that the rationale for suspending a course is subject to decanal “approval.” 

YUFA raised objections to the Employer through the Joint Committee on the Administration of the Agreement (JCOAA) about these unilateral developments, which it views as unreasonable and arbitrary interference in, and surveillance of, a member’s capacity to make a determination regarding academic integrity in accordance with the provisions for short term disruptions in the Senate Policy and the Collective Agreement. 

As of February 28, the Employer removed the eClass banners; however the heavy handed and top-down approach in limiting the capacity of YUFA members to make a determination on courses in accordance with the Senate Policy remains an outstanding issue. 

YUFA’s understanding of the Senate Policy is that, in the case of short term disruptions, individual faculty members shall make a determination on whether or not to suspend their course(s) based on their assessment of academic integrity and/or pedagogical outcomes. Like the 2018 CUPE 3903 strike, YUFA’s understanding is that academic units may be having discussions about the academic integrity of the program’s curriculum as a whole in light of the strike. Based on the experience of the 2018 strike, an assessment of the academic integrity of the curriculum as a whole may be strengthened if done through collegial discussions at the unit level. YUFA’s further experience in the last strike was that more vulnerable YUFA members (for example, pre-tenure members) benefitted from unit statements communicated by their Chair/Director.  

For clarity, YUFA’s position is that information on individual courses should be communicated to the Dean/Principal normally after the short term disruption period is over (that is, after six days). 

Examples of  academic integrity concerns from the 2018 strike included:

  • A significant number of students have indicated that they will not attend the course during the labour disruption
  • Continuing with the course will introduce inconsistencies and inequalities affecting student learning outcomes that will not be possible to remediate 
  • Continuing with the course in the absence of tutorials or labs impairs learning outcomes for students who decide to participate in the course despite the labour disruption
  • Continuing in the course may be unfair to students and may disadvantage students with disabilities or who belong to other equity-seeking groups
  • The course pedagogy is undermined due to the absence of tutorial or lab support, or because of the low student turnout 

YUFA’s view is that members are not required to use the MACH forms designed for this purpose. Questions about the MACH forms (including concerns about the security of the forms) will be raised with the employer at the Joint Committee on the Administration of the Agreement (JCOAA). 

In a communication sent on February 27, the Provost claims that YUFA violated its obligations under the collective agreement and Labour Relations Act. These accusations by the Provost are disappointing and categorically false. YUFA is not on strike and has not advised members to withdraw their labour. However, YUFA will vigorously defend any member who has been challenged or questioned by their Dean/Principal regarding their determination on whether to suspend or continue courses in accordance with Senate Policy, as well as their Collective Agreement rights. YUFA will support members, including arranging individual and group complaint stage meetings with the Dean/Principal or Provost.

Regrettably, the unilateral actions of this Employer has caused unnecessary confusion, stress and anxiety for students, faculty and community members.

YUFA again urges the Employer to settle the CUPE 3903 strike.