Summary of UTEAU and FASC meetings

Posted: November 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

I apologize that it has taken me so long to get a summary of last week’s meetings up on here. Here are some brief minutes taken from the UTEAU and FASC meetings last Monday.

UTEAU Meeting – November 1, 12-2pm.

The University of Toronto Employee Associations and Unions (UTEAU) is an umbrella organization that includes unions of students, faculty, and staff members at the University of Toronto. This particular meeting of UTEAU included easily over a hundred people, with representatives from United Steelworkers 1998, the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA), Canadian Union of Public Employees 3902 (CUPE 2902 – represents sessional and contract workers, and TAs), the Graduate Students’ Union, the University of Toronto Students’ Union, the Future of Languages and Literatures group, and plenty of other groups who came to show their support. It was moderated by Danielle Sandhu, the VP of Equity for UTSU. Unfortunately, there was not much undergraduate representation present. While we had six members of the East Asian Studies Student Union there, there were only two members of UTSU, a representative from the Association of Part Time Undergraduate Students, and two members of OPIRG in attendance to represent undergrads. No representatives from ASSU were present. We hope to see many more undergrad students and representatives in attendance in the future.

It began with short presentations from the above listed groups, who described how the academic plan has affected the members of their unions/associations and what they’d like to see for the future. Patrick Vitale from CUPE 3902 worried that this may be only an example of what is becoming standard practise at this university. UTFA called for transparency and accountability in the administration’s decision making processes. Ken Kawashima of the Future of Languages and Literatures (and our own EAS department) stressed that while the new school has been taken off the table, we must not become complacent, and we must continue to fight for changes in the way the school is run. Maria Galvez of UTSU spoke for all undergrad students at the university when she questioned where our tuition money is going, and why we do not have a say in decisions made that affect the quality of our education.

It was decided that a working group should be formed to gain the votes of members of the FASC, as we currently only have eight or nine votes on the council in favour of our cause. It was pointed out by many that it is critical that we focus on the illegitimacy of the entire process of the academic plan instead of small parts, as this is something that most people can agree on, even if they agree with certain parts of the plan (for example, some people want to see the Big Ideas courses created, which makes them less likely to oppose the entire plan unless we focus on the undemocratic process of its proposal). A resolution was written by the members of the FASC present, which was brought to the FASC meeting later that afternoon.

Faculty of Arts and Science Meeting – November 1, 3-5pm.

At the FASC meeting, Andre Schmid represented UTEAU by reading out the resolution that had been written earlier that day. The resolution was as follows:

Whereas we have gathered to voice our opinions as a community with respect to the proposed Academic Plan for the Faculty of Arts and Science, the current state of academic planning in all Faculties and the overall, undemocratic decision-making processes at the University of Toronto.

Whereas we reject all current discussions, and unrepresentative consultations around Dean Meric Gertler’s proposed Academic Plan for the Faculty of Arts and Science,

We call on the Dean and the Faculty of Arts and Science Council to:

(1) Suspend indefinitely the implementation of the major structural changes of the current plan until a proper democratic process is established which includes meaningful and transparent consultation with representatives of the affected departments, the Graduate Students’ Union, Canadian Union of Public Employees 3902, the University of Toronto Students’ Union, United Steelworkers 1998, the University of Toronto Faculty Association, and any other relevant stakeholders

(2) Establish a similar process as outlined in (1) for all future academic planning for faculties
As agreed upon by all attendees at a meeting hosted this November 1st, by the University of Toronto Employee Associations and Unions with representatives from:

The Graduate Students’ Union
Canadian Union of Public Employees 3902
University of Toronto Students’ Union
United Steelworkers 1998
University of Toronto Faculty Association

The Dean neglected to comment, and moved on to the next speaker. However, he did address the issue of the School of Languages and Literatures in his speech, when he officially stated that due to “important concerns and objections” to the proposal, the plan for the school will be scrapped. This is contingent on the departments involved finding new ways to increase enrolments, increasing collaboration with each other, and rethinking their administrative structures. The plan’s new goals are to make selective cuts to departments, such as to the Centre for Ethics, which will have some of its budget relocated to the teaching of ethics in other programs. The Dean did also say that the Strategic Planning Committee has not been formally disestablished, but no longer has a formal role.

Overall, my personal opinion is that the FASC meeting was a disappointment. While there was plenty of talk about the plan from those who had attended the UTEAU meeting, it seems many members of the council did not seem concerned about the undemocratic process that had led up to the plan and the lack of consultation that was involved. It appears we have a lot of work to do in regards to voicing our concerns on a grander scale so that our representatives in the council understand why the Dean and administration should not be allowed to implement similar plans in the future without consultation.

That’s all for now, but there is another FASC meeting coming up on December the 6th, and UTEAU is planning to meet again before then to discuss strategy. More info about that will be posted as it’s determined!

– Julianne

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