The formal mandate of the UPEIFA Research and Advocacy Committee states that the Committee is: “tasked by the Executive with completing research and making recommendations on issues being discussed by the Executive. In addition, the Committee serves an advocacy function to external groups and organizations, and to governments.” In practice, the Committee has generally focussed on its research role, supporting the FA Executive (and the Negotiating Team in years when negotiation positions are being prepared), and this continued in the most recent reporting period.

The main area of Committee activity over the past year has been to assist the Executive in crafting and delivering several surveys of the FA membership on issues of interest and concern. In addition to the September 2020 survey focussing on members’ experiences and impressions of UPEI’s COVID-19 response (findings of which were presented at the FA’s December 2020 general meeting), there have also been two surveys targeting more specific issues.

• A December 2020 “mini-survey” focussed on member experiences working with UPEI’s Accessibility Services Office on student accommodation requests.
• A January 2021 survey on member experiences with the 2020 online delivery of Student Opinion of Teaching Surveys (SOTS)

The April 16th FA AGM will include a report on highlights of these two surveys’ findings. I should share here, however, a general note of thanks to all the members who took time to provide such careful and considered responses to the above surveys: the quantity and quality of feedback provided in all three surveys was very good, and the more impressive in light of all the extra burdens our members have been carrying this year.

Thanks are also due, of course, to the Research and Advocacy Committee’s members, including Brian Wagner, Shafiqul Islam, Justin Kakeu, Rebecca Reed-Jones, and Jean Mitchell, for their assistance in developing the surveys. As preparations for deferred Collective Agreement negotiations gather steam in the coming year, I expect that this Committee will be called on with increasing frequency, and I know I can continue to count on the wisdom and cooperation of colleagues in this important work.
In closing, I should note that I have made a beginning at creating and sharing electronic research folders in Google Drive, to provide the Executive with ready access to current e-publications and other resources on particular issues (e.g. student evaluation of teaching surveys, understaffing and precarity in academia, etc.). I encourage members to pass along suggestions for contributions to these files, either to myself or one of the other Committee members.

By Simon Lloyd (Chair)