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May NewsWire: CAUT ramps up Laurentian U pressure - Acadia U no confidence vote -  UPEI leadership concerns- CAUT academic publishing panel discussion

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In this issue

  • CAUT ramps up the pressure on Laurentian University
  • Acadia academic staff vote “no confidence” in university leadership
  • UPEI Faculty Association demanding ‘secure leadership’ at UPEI
  • Academic publishing, data surveillance and human rights
  • May-June issue of the Bulletin
  • Browse the 92nd CAUT Council highlights

CAUT ramps up the pressure on Laurentian University

CAUT sent a strong message to Laurentian University’s Board of Governor’s this month: fire key senior leadership—or CAUT might have to kick-start a process to censure the University.

“The academic community has no faith in the current administration,” said David Robinson, executive director of CAUT, in a recent letter to the Chair of Laurentian University’s Board of Governors.  “Senior administrators…knowingly withheld financial information from the Laurentian University Faculty Association and the public.”

Last month, the CAUT Council unanimously supported an emergency motion brought forward by the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) to call for the immediate dismissal, prior to the end of Laurentian University’s financial restructuring process, of all the senior administrators at the University.

The motion followed the release of a report by the Ontario Auditor General concluding that Laurentian did not have to file for creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Act (CCAA).

The University’s leadership could receive generous severance packages if they are still employed at the end of the CCAA process.  The faculty union notes that this is a hard pill to swallow for the nearly 200 faculty and staff who lost their jobs.

“Laurentian University deliberately sacrificed workers while protecting the financial interests of senior administrators,” said Fabrice Colin, president of the Laurentian University Faculty Association.  “They’ve made us pay the price for their bad decisions and keep blocking our ability to have open and honest conversations with our members about what is happening behind closed doors.”

Acadia academic staff vote “no confidence” in university leadership

Acadia University academic staff made their displeasure clear to University leadership this month, as tensions remain high in the wake of February's month-long strike.

Members of the Acadia University Faculty Association (AUFA) voted 89 per cent in favour of a motion expressing "no confidence" in the senior administration's ability to continue leading the university.

AUFA members went on strike at the beginning of February and picketing ended a month later when both sides agreed to binding arbitration, which is now underway. The union is seeking to increase the number of tenure-track faculty to meet rising student enrolment, make hiring and working conditions gains for precariously employed and Indigenous faculty, and keep salary improvements in line with cost-of-living increases.

UPEI Faculty Association demanding ‘secure leadership’ at UPEI

The UPEI Faculty Association is raising concerns about the number of senior administrative positions at the university filled on a temporary basis—including the office of the president.

"It's really important to have secure leadership in there,” said Michael Arfken, president of the UPEI Faculty Association.  “And the fact that this hasn't happened, the fact that looking over the reports from the meetings of the board of governors, we don't see any movement on this since the departure of the last president is really concerning."

Former president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz resigned in December, after an allegation of harassment was filed by an employee.  The chair of the UPEI board of governors said that the university is waiting for an independent third-party review to be completed before conducting a search for a new president. The search process is underway for other positions, including associate vice-president, research, and dean of graduate studies, dean of nursing and dean of medicine, he said.

Arfken is asking to have these positions filled by fall.

"People have been occupying some of these temporary positions for one, two and in some cases three years," he said. "And because those people occupy those positions without a proper search or scrutiny and significant input from stakeholders, we think it presents a real problem for accountability and transparency for the governance structure at our university."

Academic publishing, data surveillance and human rights

Over 130 participants took part in CAUT’s panel discussion focused on academic publishing, data surveillance and human rights, held on May 17, and available online for viewing.

The panelists from Canada and the United States explored the mass aggregation and sale of user data by two major library vendors, Thomson Reuters and RELX (Elsevier), to government and law enforcement organizations including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  This information is used by immigration agents to identify people to deport from the U.S.

“Surveillance technology has proliferated without a ton of oversight, and we are at a critical precipice, where researchers and policymakers are only beginning to understand and map this new technology, and consider the implications for equity, human rights, worker rights, democracy, freedom, power, and autonomy,” said Emma Pullman, a capital stewardship officer from the BC General Employee’s Union.

“Every industry is turning to data analytics, and it is true for the information industry, it is true for publishing,” said Sarah Lamdan, a law professor at the City University of New York and a former librarian. “These companies do not call themselves publishers anymore. They call themselves data analytics companies. Our library providers and our academic publishers are fundamentally changing their business models.”

“What is really challenging is the massiveness of the issue but what is inspiring is that we are all a part of really understanding how digital surveillance is changing, how policing is changing, and we are organizing, [and] responding in that way as well,” said Cinthya Rodriguez, a national organizer with Latinx advocacy group Mijente.

May-June issue of the Bulletin

The latest issue of the Bulletin is now online, with a special feature on nursing educators, an interview with Risa Lieberwitz, the General Counsel at the American Association of University Professors, and a last message from outgoing President Brenda Austin-Smith on the mismanagement of Laurentian University.

Browse the 92nd CAUT Council highlights

On April 28 and 29, 2022, delegates to Council met in its first-ever hybrid meeting—about 100 delegates in person and 100 delegates online—to discuss priorities, elect new leadership and celebrate the collective achievements of members. Read more.