Open Letter to Minister of Advanced Education Lori Sigurdson on the Rewriting of the Post-Secondary Learning Act

23 November 2015

 

 

The Honorable Lori Sigurdson

Minister of Advanced Education

Government of Alberta

404 Legislature Building

10800 – 97 Avenue

Edmonton, AB

Canada T5K 2B6

 

Dear Minister:

We write further to your letter of 30 September 2015 to the representatives of student and faculty associations in the province inviting their written submissions in relation to the Government’s proposed rewriting of the Post-secondary Learning Act (PSLA). We assume that while provincial organizations such as the Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations may have made a written submission to you that you welcome further input from faculty and students across the province on this important issue. We do not in fact know what CAFA has submitted to you on behalf of faculty associations in the province, but we write to assert the following.

  1. We assert unambiguously the right of academic staff in the province of Alberta to freedom of association. We regard the right currently bestowed upon Boards under the Post-Secondary Learning Act to designate members to academic staff associations as an infringement of the Charterright to freedom of association.
  1. We also assert unambiguously the right of academic staff in the province of Alberta under the Charter of Rights and Freedomsto strike.
  1. We assert that the right to strike cannot be waived for us by any body that represents us as our bargaining agent with the Board of Governors. As Justice Rosalie Abella noted in her majority opinion in Saskatchewan Federation of Labour vs. Saskatchewan, “a legal system which suppresses [the] freedom to strike puts the workers at the mercy of their employers.” Moreover, “the right to strike is not merely derivative of collective bargaining, it is an indispensable component of that right.” We agree that the right to strike is “indispensable,” and therefore cannot be dispensed with by the turn to any other mechanism. “Without the right to strike,” Justice Abella notes, “a constitutionalized right to bargain collectively is meaningless.”
  1. We would like to see the Act rewritten to assert rigorously the fundamental principles of academic freedom, academic integrity, and academic independence especially in relation to funds received from private or corporate donors, and especially in relation to any research contracts with industry partners into which any university in the province enters. The Act should specify the need for all donor agreements and industry contracts to be made public so that universities are able to guarantee academic freedom and the integrity of their academic goals, as well as demonstrate their ability to protect such freedom, integrity and independence.
  1. We also call for the Act to specify additional criteria for the means by which Board members meant to represent “the general public” are selected. The “general public” cannot properly be said to be represented by members who are solely accountants, lawyers, and business managers. The new Act should specify innovative means to ensure that all members of the “general public” may be considered for appointment to university Boards and given all the support necessary to flourish as Governors. It should also specify the need for representation from Alberta’s indigenous communities.
  1. We also assert that the Act needs to be rewritten to strengthen the provisions for the shared governance of Alberta’s postsecondary institutions. In particular, we would like to see the Act involve a fuller definition of the power given to General Faculties Councils to manage the “academic affairs” of the University to ensure that this power cannot be constrained or circumvented by administrators, not even through mechanisms of delegated authority. Major academic decisions such as the founding of colleges within any of Alberta’s postsecondary institutions must be taken by the principal body, the General Faculties Council.
  1. The new Act should also require Alberta’s postsecondary education institutions strictly to limit their dependence upon temporary or precarious academic and support staff, as reliance on such staff is socially unjust and undermines the political protection of tenure. To ensure that Alberta’s postsecondary institutions are run according to the principles of academic freedom, shared governance, and social justice, the Act should specify a maximum percentage, low, of temporary or precarious academic staff that may be employed as academic staff at any of the province’s postsecondary institutions at any time. We suggest that the Act follow the NAIT rule of allowing no more than 10% of the academic staff at any of Alberta’s post-secondary institutions to be hired on a temporary basis.
  1. Finally, we call upon the Government of Alberta to rewrite the “whereas” clauses upon which the entire Act depends, to define the province’s postsecondary institutions in the first instance as public goods serving the public interest. It is as public goods serving the public interest that our universities best serve the general well-being of Albertans and the province’s culture and economy.

Respectfully submitted,

Carolyn Sale, Associate Professor, English & Film Studies, University of Alberta

Laurie Adkin, Associate Professor, Political Science, University of Alberta

Sourayan Mookerjea, Associate Professor, Sociology, University of Alberta

James Muir, Associate Professor, History and Classics and Faculty of Law, University of Alberta

Andrew Gow, Professor, History and Classics, University of Alberta

Kathleen Lowrey, Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of Alberta

Richard Westerman, Assistant Professor, Sociology, University of Alberta

Alexandre Da Costa, Assistant Professor, Educational Policy Studies, University of Alberta

William Ramp, Associate Professor, Sociology, University of Lethbridge

Kristine Alexander, Canada Research Chair in Child and Youth Studies/Assistant Professor of History, University of Lethbridge

Jarett Henderson, Assistant Professor of History and MRFA Advocacy Officer, Mount Royal University

Judy Davidson, Associate Professor, Physical Education & Recreation, University of Alberta

Makere Stewart-Harawira, Professor, Educational Policy Studies, University of Alberta

Jerry Kachur, Professor, Educational Policy Studies, University of Alberta

John R. Vokey, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Lethbridge

Todd Nickle, Professor, Biology, Mount Royal University

Laura Servage, Post-doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta

Jaimie Baron, Assistant Professor, English & Film Studies, University of Alberta

Daniela Gatto, Sessional Instructor (German), Grant MacEwan University

Janice Williamson, Professor, English & Film Studies, University of Alberta

Sheena Wilson, Assistant Professor, English & Cultural Studies, Campus St. Jean

Peter Choate, Assistant Professor, Social Work, Faculty of Health Community and Education, Mount Royal University

Tanya Stogre, Assistant Professor, Education, Mount Royal University

Carol Williams, Associate Professor, Women & Gender Studies, University of Lethbridge

Beau Coleman, Associate Professor, Drama, University of Alberta

Douglas Murdoch, Associate Professor, Psychology, Mount Royal University

Mark Simpson, Associate Professor, English & Film Studies, University of Alberta

Lynette Shultz, Associate Professor, Educational Policy Studies, University of Alberta

Rhiannon Bury, Associate Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies, Athabasca University

Natasha Hurley, Associate Professor, English & Film Studies, University of Alberta

Malinda Smith, Associate Professor, Political Science, University of Alberta

Brad Bucknell, Associate Professor, English and Film Studies, University of Alberta

Margaret L. Forgie, Instructor, Department of Psychology, University of Lethbridge

Ondine Park, Contract Instructor, Sociology, MacEwan University

William Anselmi, Professor, Modern Languages & Cultural Studies, University of Alberta

Ev Hamdon, Doctoral Candidate, Education, University of Alberta

Marie-Eve Morin, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Alberta

Chloe Taylor, Associate Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies and Philosophy, University of Alberta

Jay Gamble, Instructor, Department of English, University of Lethbridge

Kirk Niergarth, Assistant Professor, Humanities, Mount Royal University

Kimberly Mair, Assistant Professor, Sociology, University of Lethbridge

Jan Jagodzinski, Professor, Visual Art and Media Studies, Secondary Education, University of Alberta

Jennifer R. Kelly, Professor, Theoretical, Cultural & International Studies in Education, Department of Educational Policy Studies, University of Alberta; Jean Augustine Visiting Chair in the New Urban Environment (2015-16), York University

David Logue, Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Lethbridge

Tania Kajner, Sessional Instructor, University of Alberta

Stephen Speake, Contract Instructor, Sociology, MacEwan University

Julie Rak, Professor, English & Film Studies, University of Alberta

Cressida Heyes, Professor of Political Science and Philosophy, University of Alberta

Adam Kemezis, Associate Professor, History & Classics, University of Alberta

Toni Samek, Professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta

Eddy Kent, Associate Professor, English & Film Studies, University of Alberta

Amy Kaler, Professor, Sociology, University of Alberta

Dip Kapoor, Professor, Educational Policy Studies, University of Alberta

Dan Johnson, Professor of Environmental Science, Department of Geography, University of Lethbridge

John Usher, Professor of Management, University of Lethbridge

Shelagh Campbell, Professor, Biological Sciences, University of Alberta

Natalie Meisner, Associate Professor Department of English, Languages and Cultures Mount Royal University

Srdja Pavlovic, Sessional Instructor, Department of History and Classics, University of Alberta

Karyn Ball, Professor, English and Film Studies, University of Alberta

Kimberly A. Williams, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of Women’s & Gender Studies, Mount Royal University

Katie MacDonald, Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, University of Alberta

Andrew Holt, Associate Professor of Pharmacology & Associate Chair (Graduate Studies), Department of Pharmacology, University of Alberta

Mark Crawford, Assistant Professor, Political Science, Athabasca University

Natalie S. Loveless, Assistant Professor, History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Alberta

Joan Greer, Professor, Art & Design, University of Alberta

Anton Iorga, Doctoral candidate in Modern Languages and Cultural studies and French Instructor, University of Alberta

Aidan Rowe, Associate Professor in Design Studies, University of Alberta

Meenal Shrivastava, Professor, Global Studies and Political Economy, Athabasca University

Tracy O’Connor, Associate Professor, Biology, Mount Royal University

Lianne McTavish, Professor of the History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Alberta

Shawn L. England, Associate Professor of History, Department of Humanities, Mount Royal University

Imre Szeman, Professor, English & Film Studies, and Canada Research Chair in Cultural Studies

Ricardo Acuna, Associate Director, Parkland Institute, Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta

Rachel Milner, FSO Teaching Professor, Biochemistry Program, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta

SIGNATURES RECEIVED AFTER ORIGINAL MAILED TO MINISTER*

Karen J. Reschke, Sessional Instructor, School of Business, MacEwan University

Rob Shields, Henry Marshall Tory Chair and Professor, University of Alberta

*Keep ’em coming! I will send updated letter to Minister.

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27 Responses to Open Letter to Minister of Advanced Education Lori Sigurdson on the Rewriting of the Post-Secondary Learning Act

  1. Brad says:

    Brad Bucknell, Associate Professor, English and Film Studies, University of Alberta

  2. Ondine Park says:

    I would like to add my name to the list of signatories. Ondine Park, Contract Instructor, Sociology, MacEwan University

  3. Marie-Eve Morin says:

    Please also add my name, Marie-Eve Morin, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Alberta. Thank you!

  4. Chloe Taylor says:

    Chloe Taylor, Associate Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies and Philosophy, University of Alberta

  5. Kimberly Mair says:

    Kimberly Mair, Assistant Professor, Sociology, University of Lethbridge

  6. jan jagodzinski, Professor of Visual Art and Media Studies

  7. Tania Kajner says:

    Please add my name as well:
    Tania Kajner, Sessional Instructor, University of Alberta

  8. Stephen Speake says:

    Please add my name. Stephen Speake, Contract Instructor, Sociology, MacEwan University

  9. Cressida Heyes says:

    Cressida Heyes, Professor of Political Science and Philosophy, University of Alberta

  10. Dip Kapoor says:

    Dip Kapoor, Professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies, University of Alberta

  11. Srdja Pavlovic says:

    Srdja Pavlovic, Sessional Instructor. Department of History and Classics, University of Alberta

  12. Karyn Ball says:

    Please add my name: Karyn Ball, Professor of English and Film Studies

  13. katmafem says:

    Please add my name: Katie MacDonald, PhD Candidate, Sociology, University of Alberta

  14. Meenal says:

    Please add my name: Meenal Shrivastava, Professor, Global Studies and Political Economy,
    Athabasca University

  15. markcrawfndp says:

    Mark Crawford, Assistant Professor, Political Science, Athabasca University

  16. academicalism says:

    As president of CAFA, I am writing to mention that CAFA’s position paper on Labour Relations in the Alberta Post-Secondary Sector is publicly available at CAFA’s website:
    https://www.ualberta.ca/CAFA/assets/cafapslasubmission—final-oct-2015.pdf
    This submission to the government’s PSLA review was collaboratively developed by CAFA’s Council and its member associations’ executive directors (with extensive legal expertise provided by AASUA’s and TUCFA’s executive directors) and was approved by consensus of CAFA’s officers (the presidents of CAFA’s member associations: AASUA, AUFA, TUCFA, & ULFA).

    • Arts Squared says:

      Thank you for letting us know that CAFA’s submission is now available. Could you let us know what (in your view) the collaborative development of the submission by CAFA Council involved?

  17. LOVELESS says:

    Please add my name: Natalie S. Loveless, Assistant Professor, History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Alberta

  18. Joan Greer says:

    Please add my name: Joan Greer, Professor, Art & Design

  19. Anton Iorga says:

    PhD candidate in MLCS and French instructor, U of Alberta.

  20. aidanrowe says:

    Please add my name: Aidan Rowe, Associate Professor in Design Studies, University of Alberta

  21. Tracy O'Connor says:

    Please add my name: Tracy O’Connor, PhD., Associate Professor, Biology, Mount Royal University

  22. Ricardo Acuna says:

    Me too please: Ricardo Acuna, Associate Director, Parkland Institute, Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta

  23. Lianne McTavish says:

    Please add my name: Lianne McTavish, Professor of the History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Alberta

  24. Shawn says:

    Add: Shawn L. England, Associate Professor of History, Department of Humanities, Mount Royal University

  25. Karen J. Reschke says:

    Please add: Karen J. Reschke, Sessional Instructor, School of Business, MacEwan University

  26. rob shields says:

    Add: Rob Shields, Henry Marshall Tory Chair and Professor, University of Alberta.

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