COVID-19 Update: July 2, 2020

COVID-19 Update: July 2, 2020

Message from the Association President

Dear Colleagues,

I hope that all is well with you, and that you are taking advantage of the reasonably good weather we’re having to take some time away from your computers. I personally find swimming at Thetis Lake or the Gorge my best stress reduction technique!

I’m writing to update you on a few matters, including the transition to UVic’s new learning management system (LMS), the resumption of Library recall services, and the Association’s new anti-racism initiatives.

Brightspace/Online teaching

You have probably already read the memo, which describes the university’s plans for transitioning to the new LMS, Brightspace. I hope the transition will go smoothly for us all, but if you have concerns that you feel are not being addressed, please feel free to contact me or one of our Membership Services Officers:

Reuben Kellen   [email protected]

Ben Johnson      [email protected]

Similarly, if you are having difficulty accessing the university ​supports for those with particularly heavy online teaching loads that I discussed in the last update, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Although the spring/summer period is usually a quieter time for many of our Members, this year it has been a time of tremendous change and upheaval. As such, the Association would like to give departmental Council representatives a chance to check in regarding working from home, the transition to online teaching, the new LMS, and any other issues related to COVID-19. We plan to hold a virtual extraordinary Council meeting on July 23rd, where your Council representative will have the opportunity to update the Executive and hear from other Council representatives about what’s going on across campus. We encourage you to let your Council rep know how things are going for you, and how the Association can best support you, to inform a substantive Council discussion of issues and possible solutions.

Some of you have asked about issues of copyright with your online teaching, and security in terms of student access to the material. We are discussing these issues with the administration, and hope to have more clarity soon.

We have also expressed concern about the lack of adequate consultation with the Association on various recent decisions that have a major impact on our Members. The President and Vice-President Academic have agreed to meet later this summer with me and the Association’s Vice-President, Monica Prendergast, to discuss the Association’s concerns.

Library Recall Services

Following up on a Member’s inquiry about Library recall services, we have been told that the UVic Library is planning to resume a form of recall beginning on July 6th. Although the automatic recall function in the library catalogue will remain unavailable, users will be able to email the Re:Quest service ([email protected]) to request a recall for books they need. Under this mediated process, and in keeping with COVID-19 protocols, after a book is returned to the library there will be a three-day interval before it can be picked up by a new user. More detailed information will be available on the UVic Library website as of July 3.

Anti-Racism initiatives

In response to the shocking killing of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer in the United States, as well as frequent police involvement in other extremely troubling deaths of Black and Indigenous people in both Canada and the United States—and in recognition of the ongoing anti-racism protests prompted by these events—the Association has undertaken to take new steps to address issues of racism within our workplace. We are aware that racism affects the lives of Association Members on a daily basis, as well as the lives of students and others in the UVic community.  As a conservative Globe and Mail commentator, John Ibbitson, noted in today’s Globe: “Anyone [white] who denies systemic racism has failed to examine their soul.”

Recognizing that racism impacts our members and our workplace, the Association’s Executive Committee has unanimously adopted a set of anti-racism initiatives, developed in consultation with the FA Equity Committee and the co-chairs of the FA Indigenous Faculty Committee. These initiatives include specific actions by the Association, including inviting Association Members who are Black or People of Colour to consider joining together in an FA Caucus, both for mutual support and to provide policy advice to the Association. The Association has also committed to providing anti-racism training for FA staff and Officers. The initiatives also include a call for specific actions by the UVic Administration, both to conduct further research on how racism and other forms of inequality and exclusion manifest themselves at UVic, and to move forward on a number of important fronts to address issues of racism on campus.

If you are interested in joining a Black and People of Colour Caucus within the Association, or if you are interested in working on any of these anti-racism initiatives, aimed at helping to make both the Association and the University fairer and more inclusive organizations, please contact me or the Association’s Membership Engagement Coordinator:

Penny Murray[email protected]

Thanks and all the best,

Lynne Marks
University of Victoria Faculty Association
Email: [email protected]

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