1. CBA Training Camp

    On March 27-29, AUFA sent members to Ottawa, Ontario for a forum for those involved in the bargaining process.

    If you have time, please consider reading the report back to the membership here.

    First paragraph reads:

    What are the opportunities during times of fiscal restraint?

    Neil Tudiver opened the Forum by advising us that the employer will be tough on money. Economic crises put pressure on negotiations, so we should expect Administrations to make arguments that they have less money due to a drop in endowment funds, decreased government funding, and budget shortfalls.

    I would assume that Acadia is under the very same financial pressures as most other small universities in the country right now.  Did we really need to send representatives all the way to Ottawa to have them discover… the obvious?

    Thankfully, the conference went on to talk about items that Faculty Associations may be able to negotiate with their employers that don’t sound absurd - seemingly, it appears that AUFA is going to fight for “equity” this time around.

    Equity - interesting word isn’t it?

    According to Wikipedia, employment equity is defined by the following statement:

    "…refer to policies that take race, ethnicity, or gender into consideration in an attempt to promote equal opportunity."

    Now, it’s been awhile since this member of our passionate blogging group has been at Acadia, however, I don’t recall seeing any sort of discrepancies with this particular definition on campus.  In fact, there always seemed to be a fair split of female and male faculty members, as well as a well represented group of professors from other countries.  Maybe it’s no longer the same?

    Either way, let me be clear, I’m all for equity, but what I do hope, is that the principle of equity does not interfere with the pedigree of professor that Acadia tends to, and hopefully still does attract.  What I mean by that is, if there was ever a gender imbalance on our faculty and a position was open, I would hope that they would hire the most qualified individual as opposed to hiring the next best, or third best (whatever the case may be) just to balance the gender teeter-totter.

    Finally, looking at the most recent (12th) collective bargaining agreement, it appears that Article 3.0 on page 9 mentions equity exclusively.  Wouldn’t this mean theoretically that Acadia already promotes equitable practices amongst its faculty?

    Aside from this, if AUFA is in fact positioning itself on the items found within the report, this negotiation process appears that it could be successful for all parties involved.  Let’s not forget - we are all in this together and no one party, is better than another!

    What are your thoughts?

    Acadia UniversityAcadiaWolfvilleAUFACAUT

  2. Making No Cents

    The latest AUFA President Communicates section of the AUFA Communicator looked like it was going to make good sense.

    That was until we got past the first graph…

    How does the AUFA President, Janice Best, get away with making such ridiculous budget comparisons between Acadia and other universities in Canada?  Does she not realize that every university must run in a different way?  And that every university serves a different purpose?

    As an introduction, here is the breakdown the Board of Governors at Acadia provided to AUFA on the university’s finances:

    Faculty salaries account for almost 50% of our budget.  Keep that in mind as we go further down the posting.

    Let’s talk about Canada.  Janice found the following graph and used it in her posting:

    Sure, that looks just about right.  Think of all the schools like Dalhousie, University of Toronto, McGill, UBC, etc., that have numerous masters and PhD programs.  Their focus has to be on instruction and research.  Furthermore, their concentration is far less on student life because most of the big research schools (of which there are far more than primarily undergraduate) are what we call “commuter schools”.  This means that the majority of the students live near by and commute to school every day as opposed to living in residence.

    Now, let’s look at the graph she used for Nova Scotia schools:

    With approximately 16,000 students, Dalhousie accounts for just a little less than half of all university students in Nova Scotia.  It costs a lot of money to provide masters and doctorate programs.  A lot.  Add SMU into that mix with their masters programs and you’re accounting for more than 60% of the provincial university students that study at two universities with less of a focus on student life (commuter schools) which allows them to throw more money into the classroom. Acadia is known as a residential campus, for its student life, education and for our technology. With that in mind, you need to spend a bit more money on administration and computing and residence life to create the environment we always talk about: learning happens inside and outside of the classroom on a regular basis. In our opinion, this graph is mildly relevant.

    Now, Janice also decided to do a comparison between all primarily undergraduate schools in Canada to cover all of her basis:

    Once again, we see that the computing and administration costs are lower on average across the country than they are at Acadia.  These numbers are not mutually exclusive, Janice.  When you have a focus on technology and an unparalleled student life, you increase administrative costs to make that happen.  This is why Acadia is as great as it is.  It’s not just the teaching.

    Janice finishes her post with the following comment:

    "It is time for us to call upon the administration at Acadia to make instruction our top priority by realigning our spending so it is consistent with the trends in other universities across Canada.  It is not unreasonable to insist that more than 50% of the yearly expenditures of an institution whose primary mission is education be devoted to the academic sector."

    At what cost Janice?  Do we strangle our residence life department that is already running (arguably) 2-3 staff members short?  Maybe we eliminate some positions from our 9 person recruitment department?  But then how do you sustain student levels?  Who would you let go Janice?

    My last thought - if you want to go to a place with a much larger focus on instruction as opposed to developing the whole student, leave.  Nobody is stopping you.  Just don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

    AcadiaAcadia UniversityWolfvilleUniversity

  3. We are a group of people who love Acadia. We feel that Acadia is the best university in Canada and the last thing we want to see is that perception tarnished by yet another strike by our radical faculty association. Our view is simple - don't compare us to other universities because we are different. If you can afford to provide for you and your family, then you're doing better than most in the world. You work at a special place, and if you can't appreciate that, then get out because we don't want you here.