As we wind down for our holiday break, I am sharing three documents with you:

1)The public letter with signatories, written by OCAD United to the Board of Governors in support of OCADFA’s Alternative Budget.  The letter will be shared with BoG members along with our survey. 

2) The results of our general membership survey conducted earlier this year.  The survey results tell us about the reality of heavy workloads, long-term precarity & poverty within OCAD U faculty, staff and techs.  We’ll be working in 2021 to address these issues through negotiations, campaigns and strengthening our coalition-based advocacy within OCAD U and externally.  

3) The MOS signed with Administration to address workload issues. As you may be aware, OCADFA filed grievances with the administration on May 13, 2020 and November 2, 2020 outlining faculty concerns related to increased course enrollments, increased course caps, and remote delivery of courses for Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter courses. We recently were able to come to an agreement on a memorandum of settlement for these grievances, which I have attached.

I wish to clarify certain parameters of the settlement, in particular regarding Item #3, as we understand there is some confusion regarding what this means for different faculty categories. We have heard that some assume that their contracts will be extended automatically – that is not the message we have received from the Administration. The intent that has been communicated to us is that any faculty whose renewable contract is set to expire will need to undertake a review before that contract gets renewed. This review would be conducted under the normal guidelines and timelines. We understand that there are concerns regarding the added workload of submitted a review during this challenging time and regret that your contracts will not be automatically renewed, but we also don’t want anyone to miss out on a renewal because of a lack of clarity regarding the memorandum of settlement. Other faculty who choose to opt out of the performance review this year will receive their career progress increment only, and will undergo performance reviews in 2021/22, at which point they may qualify for a merit increase.

This memorandum of settlement also includes the following provisions:

  • Sessionals are eligible to receive $650 to complete FCDC training on remote teaching delivery in the Fall 2020 or Winter 2021 semester.
  • Support of individual claims for home office expenses for faculty undertaking remote teaching (T2200 – Conditions of Employment tax form).
  • Ability for tenure-track faculty to extend their probationary period for one year.
  • Deans to consult with non-sessional faculty on rebalancing responsibilities.
  • Consultation with OCADFA on development of guidelines with respect to TA qualifications, hiring and orientation, as well as training for faculty who supervise TAs.
  • An increase in TA support for courses enrolled above 2019 course capacities.
  • A commitment to accommodate members experiencing health impacts associated with teaching in a remote environment.

We recognize that this does not adequately remedy all aspects of the increased workload and difficulties with teaching remotely during this public health crisis, and we continue to advocate for better working conditions on your behalf. If you have any individual issues, or any questions or concerns about the implementation of any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.

2020 was a year of historic challenges and OCADFA met them head-on with your support.   Online learning has impacted our sector in ways unimaginable a year ago.  A recent poll of students and faculty in Ontario universities found an overwhelming majority report negative experiences with online education.  We know there are cost-savings to be had with remote delivery, and there will be a push to offer courses online.    Changes have been so rapid, it’s hard to even keep track. Emergency online teaching is now being proposed as a permanent feature of OCAD U’s curricular offerings. Any move towards integrating online education into our delivery modes requires rigorous debate & discussion.   For many of us, online teaching is anathema to studio based art & design education.  

We welcomed a fantastic new President Ana Serrano to OCAD U who has already energized our campus with positivity, vision and vigour. Unfortunately, upon her arrival, the Board of Governors commissioned an external third party to review our finances.  The year of COVID-19 is not an ideal time to assess our finances or to make far-reaching recommendations that have curricular impact, much beyond the fiscal scope that was first proposed.  The reviewers had no opportunity to see our studios in action, and all the metrics from this year are not accurate measures of a typical year. Many of the recommendations that have been tabled by the review are troublesome. Some we actually like. OCADFA began a historic campaign to put forward an alternative fiscal vision for our university and generated cross campus support through OCAD United.  We’ll use this mobilization to strategically advocate for a fiscal policy that mirrors our core values: decolonization, equitable access to education and prioritizing the student learning experience. 

We will be better prepared to continue this work in 2021.   In 2021 OCADFA will welcome two new members to OCADFA’s executive and board:

  • Associate Professor (Faculty of Art) Natalie Majaba Waldburger has been appointed to the position of Grievance Chair.  Natalie will work alongside our Associate Grievance Chair, Associate Professor Camille Isaacs (Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences) on grievances with the support of OCADFA’s Executive Director, Graeme Reniers.
  • Lecturer (FoA) Tannis Nielsen has been appointed as a director to our board. 

OCADFA has worked creatively with OCADSU and OPSEU to ensure faculty, staff and student voices are not just heard, but part of the conversation that shapes our university’s fiscal & academic priorities.  Thanks  to the over 200 OCAD U community members who signed OCAD United’s public letter in support of the Alternative Budget.  Thanks to the over 50 OCAD U community members (faculty, staff and students) who packed the recent Board of Governors meeting in support of our Alternative Budget.  And thanks to countless others who have spoken out at faculty meetings, at Senate and in university fora to support academic freedom, academic integrity, bettering working conditions and the student learning experience at OCAD U.  Finally, thanks to Administration for ensuring we have a collegial environment wherein these robust debates can take place meaningfully.  

I hope you have a restive break with family and loved ones.  May 2021 bring us together, as a university within a community.

In solidarity,

Min Sook Lee