RFA IN ARBITRATION OVER SURVEYS

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By Carys Mills

Ryerson administration and faculty are entering arbitration, because they can’t agree on how to conduct the faculty course surveys.

The Ryerson Faculty Association (RFA) and Board of Governors have been negotiating since March for a new collective agreement.

Dave Mason, RFA president, said the bargaining was a, “long, drawn out process,” because of opposing views on faculty course surveys, workloads and salary raises.

On Nov. 6, the new contract was voted on by the faculty, librarians and counselors represented by the union. Formal voting closes on Thursday.

Ballots will be counted on Nov. 20, but official results won’t be available until the next Board of Governors meeting.

Mason suspects the agreement will be ratified by both parties.

The faculty evaluation surveys distributed in-class this month were impacted by negotiations.

Last year was the first time surveys were posted online.

The university wants the surveys to stay online and the RFA isn’t “fundamentally opposed” to the idea.

But the online surveys have a lower response rate than in-class surveys and students participating might not have attended class.

“That’s fair game if this is informational, but it’s not informational,” said Mason.

“It’s a key element in tenure decisions and promotion decisions.”

“It’s going to arbitration because we couldn’t agree on it,” he said.

Arbitration begins on Dec. 8 and will be reviewed by an external arbitration board. A decision will be effective next fall.

Henry Warwick, a radio and television professor, currently teaches four classes. He said marking and research also consume his time. On Thursdays, Warwick teaches a RTA fourth-year class that “eats up my whole day.”

The new agreement specifies three courses can be taught in one semester and two in the other.

Warwick said the new course loading is moving in the right direction, but he still won’t have enough time to do as much research as he’d like.

According to Mason, Ryerson’s increased demand for research makes course loading an issue.

The new agreement also specifies the roles of chairs and directors to “make it clear that they’re academic leaders not managers,” said Mason.

Under the new contract, Ryerson faculty will still be paid less than faculty at other Toronto universities, but the deal is average for Ontario standards.

Michael Dewson, vice provost faculty and board representative during negotiations, said he couldn’t comment because the deal has not been ratified.

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