Dear OCADFA members,

Happy Pride weekend! Last year this time I was out on the streets with my friends. This year, I am sitting at my desk preparing for a summer class that starts online tomorrow. A class that typically has 23 students is now packed with 35 students I will only ever meet online. There is no assigned schedule for my class and I’m left to navigate synchronous meeting times with students on my own. (For those teaching online in the fall term you will have a day/time assigned to your course on Canvas because faculty spoke up insisted on this) That means wrangling a schedule with 35 disparate agendas. It’s not only more work, it’s oppositional to the material I teach: Art & Social Change.  Teaching is fundamentally pro-social and embodied. It’s not only about facts being accessed, it’s about the dialogic process of learning, an exchange of intellectual energy and a relational process. Synchronous teaching online is fundamental to that. As recommended, I will ensure a student can complete my course asynchronously, however my course will be built with synchronous components. Art & Social Change requires discourse, mediated engagement and reflection.  The issues we consider are often deeply personal as well as political. Students are emotionally, intellectually and creatively shaken and changed from the material we cover.

This summer term I’ve developed new course material to help students contextualize and engage with the historic uprising underway all around us.  An uprising triggered by the racist police killing of George Floyd in the United States and here in Canada, the recent killings of Black, Indigenous and racialized people at the hands of police – from Regis Kortinski-Paquet, Chantel Moore to Ejaz Ahmed Choudry.  The call to #defundthepolice, the movement to abolish the anti-Black and colonial carceral systems of jails and prisons and dismantling the systems and symbols of systemic racism and white supremacy in our society. As the historian Robin Kelley explains, we are living in the midst of upheaval and immense pain but also  tremendous possibility.

These are not easy topics to approach and students are challenged by their own investment, complicity or trauma when these subjects come up. In the midst of a political/cultural revolution I know synchronous class times are critical.  Asynchronous remote instruction has important equity benefits for both students and faculty given the myriad reasons why scheduled synchronous instruction can pose access challenges. But the important caveat is that pedagogical decisions should be made by instructors acting within guidelines established through collegial processes.

Sessional Compensation for Online Delivery

We are pleased to announce we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Administration to compensate sessional faculty for the increased workload incurred from the transition to remote delivery.  The compensation is tied to optional training in online teaching offered by Faculty & Curriculum Development Centre (FCDC).  Sessionals contracted to teach in the 2020/21 academic year who enrol in ‘Teaching Art & Design Online’ will be compensated $650 and receive a certificate in online teaching. The FCDC training offers some guidelines faculty may choose to apply in delivering online courses.  There is specific language on Academic Freedom in the MOU to ensure faculty’s pedagogical expertise and autonomy are not only respected, but underscore OCAD U’s approach towards remote delivery and online teaching.

The first session of this training is already underway and the second session is scheduled to begin in a few weeks.  Information about the enrollment process and program details will be forthcoming from Administration in the following days. This program is also applicable to sessional faculty who taught in the spring/summer term of 2020. 

A grievance filed by OCADFA concerning class cap expansions for the Spring/Summer term remains unresolved.  This MOU addresses some aspects of the grievance, but there remain outstanding remedies which OCADFA and Administration are still in discussion on.

This MOU is the direct result of months of advocacy, organizing and negotiations. It’s not a gift from management. We fought hard for this and it is a win for our membership. I’d like to thank all the OCADFA board reps, our negotiating committee members and especially all our faculty, both contract and permanent faculty who spoke out fearlessly on this issue.  Finally, sincere thanks to VPAP Caroline Langille and members of Administration’s negotiations team.

Sessional Townhall

OCADFA has started a new OCADFA Sessional Committee chaired by one of our Sessional representatives, Bogdan Luca, a faculty member in the Drawing & Painting program in the Faculty of Art. OCADFA is planning an OCAD U Sessional Townhall for August 2020.  If you are interested in joining the committee or helping to set the agenda for the townhall please get in touch with Bogdan.

Take Our Membership Survey Please!

Our Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) expires June 2020. We began formal bargaining with University Administration in February 2020 and have continued to exchange proposals with management through the lockdown. Our proposals reflect the bargaining mandate that we secured from you: job security for contract faculty is a central concern.  We have almost 300 precarious workers in our membership who live on paltry, precarious contracts. When we sit across the table from management we are focused on precarity, an issue made more urgent by during the pandemic. 

For us to move forward with more clarity at the bargaining table we want to hear from you.  Membership feedback is especially important right now as it strengthens our position.  Please take the time to finish the survey. The information you share with us will be used as a strategic tool to effectively win a better contract for you.  The survey contains questions related to your work experience during COVID-19 which will help us understand what your priorities and concerns and give us the capacity to respond to your needs.  The survey can be completed in 15 minutes and will be emailed directly to you.  Special thanks to faculty member Mary-Eileen Wennekers, the sessional representative on our Negotiations Committee, for producing the survey.

Welcome to our new colleagues

OCADFA heartily welcomes the five new tenure-track faculty members who self-identify as Black peoples of African Descent (including Africans and African heritage people from the Caribbean, North America and Latin America) to our community.  The news has been widely reported and comes at an apt political moment. Joining the University’s Faculty of Design, as of August 1, 2020 are Angela Bains, Kestin Cornwall, Kathy Moscou, Michael Lee Poy and Marton Robinson.  OCADFA recognizes the steadfast leadership of Dean Dori Tunstall in ensuring OCAD U’s commitment to decolonization, equity and diversity is made real.  We’d also like to thank OCADFA faculty members Lillian Allen and Andrea Fatona for the years of organizing they committed to this transformational change. And we’d like to recognize the many Black faculty artists, designers and scholars who’ve come through OCADU’s doors such as Buseje Bailey; Fatimah Tuggar and Betty Julian, because their labours made this day possible.

Goodbye to President Diamond

After 15-years in office, President Sara Diamond is stepping down.  OCAD U has undergone significant changes during her tenure and grown substantially far beyond its roots as a studio-driven arts school.   OCADFA recognizes and applauds the ground-breaking work on decolonization, diversity and equity that has been realized under her leadership during this time.  Sara Diamond’s tireless commitment to championing OCAD U helped bring this university to where we stand today.   Sara will continue to represent the university and its interests to the Chair of the Board of Governors in her role as President Emerita.  OCAD U’s new President Ana Serrano, Currently Chief Digital Officer of the Canadian Film Centre (CFC), will assume the office in July, 2020.

Covid-19 and the Neo-Liberal University

Recently, the Royal Bank of Canada laid out a disturbing and corporate vision of post-secondary in Canada. Unfortunately, these kinds of views are commonplace amongst the Board of Governors in most Canadian universities.  A response to this chilling expansion of McDegrees  is captured in this article from the National Observer.  This article, “The Academy’s Neo-Liberal Response to Covid-19: Why Faculty Should be Way and How We Can Push Back” by Honor Brabazon sums up dominant issues.  Since its publication, there has been a growing call to organize.  You can join the conversation in this Zoom meeting on Friday July 3: “Emergency Online Teaching and the Neo-Liberal University: A Follow Up Discussion”

In solidarity,

Min Sook Lee

p.s. A reminder to everyone to keep your receipts to claim home expenses when you file for taxes in 2021.  The shift to online delivery has turned our homes into work sites and there are expenses you can deduct from taxable income.  In order to do this you will have to request the T2200 form from Administration. OCADFA has asked for this form to be made readily available to our members.