At the AASUA's Annual General Meeting, held last Friday, the almost 300 members present unanimously endorsed the following (and attached) statement as an articulation of the AASUA's position on the U of A for Tomorrow restructuring process.
In light of the important decisions to be made by GFC today and in the weeks to come, we encourage all members to reach out to their GFC representatives, share the statement with them, and ask them to take it to heart as they debate, vote, and engage in decision-making at GFC.
AASUA Declaration on U of A for Tomorrow (UAT)
November 20, 2020
The Association of Academic Staff at the University of Alberta (AASUA) understands fully that the extreme and unprecedented funding cut issued to the University by the Alberta government necessitates action. While we are disappointed that the U of A has done so little to build public understanding that the scope and depth of the cuts will cause irreparable harm to the University, we agree that it is better for the University to deal with the cuts thoughtfully and constructively, rather than to cut arbitrarily across the board. We acknowledge that these cuts will lead to change, and although our priority is the protection of our members, we are willing to be constructive throughout the change process.
It has been very difficult for us to be constructive, however, as we have not been provided access to any of the detailed data, financial projections, benchmarks, and calculations underlying the entire U of A for Tomorrow process. Furthermore, we have been denied seats at the tables where the analysis is being discussed and the options are being designed and considered. The speed of decisions and implementation, and the flawed consultation and decision-making process that excludes meaningful participation by the very people on the front lines of delivering on the teaching, research, and outreach mission of the university, jeopardizes the ability of the change to meet the desired outcomes.
The AASUA affirms that equity, diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation are principles that require action and implementation in practice, not just superficial statements and rhetoric. The 1,000 positions planned for elimination, as well as all the contract positions not being renewed, stand to disproportionately affect equity-seeking groups on campus unless the University takes swift and meaningful action to ensure otherwise. The lack of concerted action to date is extremely concerning in light of the U of A’s loudly stated commitment to both EDI and reconciliation.
As such, the 297 members present at AASUA’s Annual General Meeting assert the following with regard to the entire UAT process:
- we agree with the fundamental assertion that a key issue to be recognized and dealt with is the proportion of U of A operating funds currently being spent on high level administrative functions rather than on front-line teaching, research, and support functions;
- we strongly reject the imposition of any structure that creates yet another layer of senior administration in the form of Executive Deans or any other administrators so far removed from the front lines of teaching, research, and service;
- we do not support any changes that will adversely impact the administrative work-load of any of our members, nor will we support work that rightly belongs to a different bargaining unit being foisted upon AASUA members to make up for layoffs;
- we stand in solidarity with our colleagues in the Non Academic Staff Association (NASA), acknowledge the critical role they also play in the University’s ability to meet its mission, and assert that they should not primarily bear the burden of balancing the University’s books, whether it be through layoffs, attrition, privatization, or contracting out of positions;
- there can be no increase in the level of precarity on campus among either academic or non-academic staff;
- any changes to the academic structure of the university should only be made if they are well thought out and make sense for the academic mission of the university, and have received the full endorsement of the university’s collegial governance bodies;
- preservation and expansion of collegial governance and participatory academic decision-making structures and processes must be prioritized throughout the process;
- the University must remember that collegial governance and academic freedom require truly open, participatory, and consultative deliberation, as well as open and constructive intramural critique;
- the UAT process must document and account for all positions lost - permanent and contract – and must also detail the type of positions, the impact on equity and diversity, and the impact on students of those lost positions;
- all restructuring must respect, in practice, the university's written and spoken commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation, and must not disproportionately impact equity-seeking groups;
- reporting on the change process must include a full accounting of savings incurred and document the change in the ratio of operating funds going to upper level administrative functions versus funds going to AASUA and NASA salaries.
AASUA Annual General Meeting
November 20, 2020