According to its formal mandate, the UPEIFA Research and Advocacy 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 2022-2023.
As it became increasingly apparent during the Summer of 2022 that the employer’s bargaining team was not engaging constructively on the numerous issues of concern identified by the FA membership during our 2021-2022 bargaining consultations and preparations, more and more of the time and energy of the FA Executive was consumed with efforts to support our bargaining team in their efforts to move negotiations forward. As these efforts met continued employer intransigence, further work became necessary, both to support the bargaining team in ongoing attempts at a negotiated settlement and also to prepare for possible job action.
These preparations included expanded communications efforts, including through the news media and social media channels: while these were capably led by President Mike Arfken, Vice President (and later Executive Director ) Margot Rejskind, and the FA Communications Committee, chaired by Kim Mears, considerable supporting research work — undertaken in cooperation with the negotiations team, as appropriate — was also necessary. Issues requiring attention included student evaluation / opinion of teaching surveys (SETS/SOTS), UPEI enrolment trends, and post-secondary funding and budgeting (with a particular focus on UPEI and comparator institutions). And, as the prospect of a strike became more and more pressing, information on the UPEIFA’s previous strike (2006) and on more recent labour disputes at other Canadian universities was also gathered.
The Research and Advocacy Committee was also tasked with a close review of a revised “UPEI Responsible Conduct of Research Policy” drafted by the employer during the Fall 2022 semester. The findings of this review were shared with President Mike early in the new year, and will inform further discussions with the employer regarding this policy going forward.
All of this, and the whirlwind of activity around the strike, left little time for the “more deliberative and proactive” research approach I expressed hope for in my Research and Advocacy Committee annual report last year. Nevertheless, I thank the Committee members for their willingness to serve when called upon — notably in the Responsible Conduct of Research policy review aforementioned — and extend particular thanks to outgoing members Nino Antadze and Javier Sanchez, and to those whose terms continue until next year, namely: Aitazaz Farooque (Engineering), Melissa Bishop (Education), and my Library colleagues Mackenzie Johnson and Courtney Matthews. And, I note with appreciation Richard Raiswell’s nomination as a new member for this committee. As mentioned in my previous report on this committee, I believe it has considerable potential to greatly assist the FA Executive and membership by gathering and sharing research on issues of concern.
by Simon Lloyd (Chair)