YUFA advisory re. Senate Exec decision not to suspend classes

Dear colleagues,

The Senate Executive has chosen not to declare a general suspension of classes. As mentioned in our last advisory, the decision about whether to suspend classes in order to preserve the academic integrity of a course rests officially with the independent professional judgment of the individual course director. In some cases, departments (and even Faculties) have issued a general announcement declaring the suspension of classes. It is YUFA's position that these announcements are legitimate expressions of collective concern about academic integrity that are in purview based on Senate policy.

Most Deans, however, have requested notification about your decision as an individual and a rationale for that decision. This has caused some members to question what they should do.

It is YUFA's position that a formal declaration by a unit or Faculty that classes will be suspended to preserve academic integrity is sufficient because these bodies represent the collective voice of individual faculty members and reflect their judgment. Nevertheless, if you are concerned that your Dean/Principal will not recognize such a declaration, then you may wish to respond individually to the office of the Dean/Principal, making reference to your unit's declaration of suspension.

If your unit has not issued such a declaration, you are likely expected to notify your Dean/Principal if you decide to suspend classes and activities.

You will also be expected to provide an academic integrity rationale for the decision. We recommend that you supply such a rationale, but that it doesn't have to be long (one sentence should suffice). As established in the CUPE 3903 strike in 2015, the Dean/Principal may not challenge your rationale, since the policy is based on respect for the professional judgment of the individual course director.

It is also YUFA's position that, in light of the disruption, confusion, anxiety and chaos caused by a CUPE 3903 strike, as well as the likelihood of significantly reduced student participation, a decision to suspend classes for the sake of ensuring academic integrity would be and is clearly justified. For that reason, the YUFA Executive strongly objects to Senate Executive's decision on this matter.

We are aware of communications from some Deans/Principal and chairs with clear intent to pressure some YUFA members to continue teaching. These communications argue that the continuation of classes is the only fair approach toward students, and imply that classes can continue without harm to the academic integrity of courses that continue in a climate of disruption with only a portion of registered students present. This constitutes a rejection of Faculty Council statements that call for class suspension.

In light of these communications, we encourage YUFA members to follow Senate policy in that their only consideration should be their individual judgment on academic integrity in their classes. YUFA will stand firm in defending your rights, and will vigorously defend any member who has been challenged or questioned by their Dean/Principal regarding their approach to the disruption brought about by the CUPE 3903 strike.

In such cases, or if you have any similar concerns or need for advice, please email YUFA at [email protected].