June 2, 2022 Issue 557
Inside this issue
Bill 96 Adopted
College Renews Pilot Project
College Policy on Leaves & Gradual Retirement
Faculty Availability and Vacation Period
Dawson College Financial Aid Office
The DTU Executive
Louisa Hadley, President
Brian Seivewright, VP Internal
Mélanie Beck, VP External
Antonia Fikkert, Secretary-Treasurer
Emilie Richer, Grievance Officer
Bill 96 Adopted Despite Mobilization Efforts
Over the past month or so, there has been increasing mobilization around Bill 96, with numerous articles in the press as well as recent rallies held at Anglophone Cegeps and a protest on May 14th. Although these efforts were unsuccessful in preventing the Bill from being adopted, they highlighted the commitment of faculty and students to counter the negative impacts of the Bill.
On Thursday, May 5th, the Dawson Student Union, in collaboration with faculty members, organised a successful rally in opposition to the proposed bill. The rally was very well attended and included engaging speakers from both students and faculty. One faculty member, Adam Bright (English), led the students in a collective activity to send simultaneous messages to local MNAs. Reports about the rally appeared in both Francophone and Anglophone media outlets, such as 24Heures and The Montreal Gazette.
On Saturday May 14th, Dawson teachers and students gathered at Dawson for a protest against Bill 96. The Dawson community was joined by people from across the Montreal community who are concerned about the implications of the proposed bill.
The protest opened with several speeches from organisers of Anglophone community groups, political leaders, and Indigenous representatives. The speeches highlighted the detrimental impacts of the proposed law, both in terms of the impacts for education as well as more broadly for access to health and legal services. Reports on the protest appeared in both Francophone and Anglophone media outlets, such as Le Devoir and The Montreal Gazette.
Although Bill 96 was adopted into law at the National Assembly on May 24th, much remains uncertain about both the process and timeline for implementation. There has been no indication of how the Ministry of Higher Education will implement the Bill’s requirements related to French courses and the French Exit Exam at Anglophone Cegeps. The DTU Executive attended a meeting of FNEEQ at the end of last week, but there remains no information from the Ministry of Higher Education. The Directors of the Anglophone Cegeps will be meeting with the Ministry of Higher Education on June 6th, and we hope that similar discussions will also be taking place with representatives from FNEEQ. Any information we receive before the end of availability will be posted on our Bill 96 webpage.
College Renews Pilot Project Despite Questions Remaining
In our last Owl Hoots, we reported on the lack of transparency and information regarding the College’s Blended Learning Pilot Project. At that time, we sent an open letter to the Academic Dean and Regular Sector Deans expressing our concerns and again asking for answers to several key questions that we have repeatedly raised. Although the College has indicated its intention to respond to at least some of the Union’s questions, to date, no response has been received.
When the College launched its Blended Learning Pilot Project in the Fall, it clearly indicated that all students and teachers involved in the project would participate in evaluations of the courses. Ideally, these evaluations should have been done so as to allow time for departments to evaluate the impact of the Pilot Project before further pursuing online pedagogy. However, the College has only recently sent the evaluations to the teachers involved in the Pilot Project and has given no indication of whether the results of these evaluations will be made available – to departments, Senate, or the wider community.
Moreover, we are concerned that the College is being selective in who it is soliciting feedback from. The Academic Dean recently contacted coordinators of departments with at least one teacher participating in the Pilot Project to ask for feedback. The Memo asks those coordinators to provide “comments about blended courses – the process for reviewing them, the criteria or principles the department used to form its opinion on the proposed blended courses, their impact on other courses delivered by your department, their impact on students or other related matters”. These issues are relevant to all departments; it is equally important that the College understand the criteria or principles on which departments decided not to offer blended courses. Furthermore, we have heard from many teachers this semester about the impact that the Pilot Project has had on their students’ (in)ability to attend and participate in their in-person classes; these impacts are not limited to other courses in the same department but have been felt across the College. Unfortunately, despite our efforts, the College has not yet indicated whether it will solicit data from non-participating departments.
As we have repeatedly made clear to the College, if departments are to participate in meaningful discussions about online pedagogy, the process of evaluation and feedback needs to be more transparent. The College, however, has pushed full-steam ahead and launched another round of the Pilot Project for Fall 2022. Once again, it seems that the College is drawing conclusions about Blended Learning without concrete evidence. As the College moves forward with yet another Pilot Project and, presumably, the development of a policy related to online teaching and learning, it is imperative that it solicit feedback from all teachers. Whether or not members of your department participated in the project, feel free to email the Academic Dean directly if you have comments about it, and please copy the DTU.
College Policy on Leaves and Gradual Retirement
At the end of last semester, we learned that the College was being more restrictive in granting leaves, both Voluntary Workload Reductions and anticipated sabbaticals. At the time, we managed to convince the College to reconsider its position on anticipated sabbatical requests for the Winter 2022 semester; however, the College was only willing to grant these over a period of two years. Unfortunately, we were not able to dissuade the College from its position of granting only the minimum number of VWRs required by the Collective Agreement (and even granting none in Nursing despite the requirement that at least one per discipline be granted).
Since then, the College has continued to be conservative in its approach to granting leaves. Although the College has not officially declared a change in its policies concerning anticipated sabbatical leaves and gradual retirement, there has been a clear change in practice. In all recent cases, teachers asking for an anticipated sabbatical or gradual retirement plan to take place over a period of five years have been declined, and only requests taking place over a shorter period have been approved.
The College is acting within the parameters of the Collective Agreement since these types of leaves require “agreement between the parties”; however, the DTU has raised several concerns about this change of practice with the College. In particular, the DTU has asked the College to clearly communicate its current policies to all teachers as it is important teachers know what options are available to them for planning purposes. The College, however, seems reluctant to send a message to all faculty as it claims to deal with requests on a case-by-case basis. Despite this statement, faculty should be aware that the College’s position seems to be to deny requests for anticipated sabbaticals and gradual retirements that exceed more than two years.
All Dawson teachers (whether they teach in the Day or Continuing Education sector) have access to Professional Development Funds to cover professional development activities such as courses, workshops, and conferences.
Faculty Availability and Vacation Period
For teachers with a day contract, the last day of availability for this academic year is June 13. The vacation period is from June 14 to August 15, inclusive. Teachers are expected to be available to the College until the vacation period begins. Although the nature of our work changes after classes end, teachers are expected to be available to attend meetings with the College if required. For full-time teachers, availability is 32.5 hours per week. For part-time teachers, availability is proportional to the workload.
Teachers who wish to be unavailable to the College either prior to the beginning of the vacation period or after the availability period resumes in the Fall can request a transfer of availability. You need to complete the form provided by the College at least one month in advance of the period you are transferring, with your Department Coordinator’s support. Note that the form asks teachers to indicate what activities you propose to make up for the period of unavailability; you do not have to provide too much detail here. It is sufficient to indicate something along the lines of “course prep” or “departmental work”.
Dawson College Financial Aid Office Food Bank & Snack Centre
Stocked through the generosity of the Dawson College community, a small food bank is available for students whose monthly income does not cover all their needs.
Please consider dropping off some items at the Financial Aid Office (Room 4E.2-8). They’re often in need of the following items:
- canned proteins (salmon, tuna, sardines, turkey, chicken, ham, beef, etc)
- vegetables (corn, peas, string beans, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, etc)
- fruits (cocktail, pears, peaches, applesauce, mandarin, etc)
- rice (long grain, basmati, Uncle Ben’s, Dainty, Minute Rice, etc)
- pasta sauces
- prepared soups, Chef-Boy-R-Dee, Kraft dinner, chili,
- personal hygiene items (soap, shampoo, pads, tampons, deodorant, toothpaste/brushes/mouthwash, etc)
- cereal, crackers, nuts, treats of all kinds
- vegan/gluten free items