MAUT Newsletter | McGill Association of University Teachers | January 2021

 

 

 

Reflections on an Extraordinary Year

 

When I agreed to be nominated for the VP Internal position of MAUT in March 2020, little did I know what was in store for MAUT and the university community!

 

The rest of 2020, as you all know, was one of great uncertainty, and unexpected and difficult challenges for the university’s students, staff, and faculty, as we all embarked on trying to do our research, teaching, learning, and other service and administrative duties, in greatly altered and restrictive conditions. Starting in the spring of 2020, MAUT Executive and Council held regular monthly Zoom meetings to deliberate on problems raised by the changing Covid-19 pandemic circumstances, and the governments’ and university’s responses to these conditions. MAUT also consulted regularly with McGill’s upper administration, other McGill employee associations and unions, as well as with external faculty associations in Quebec and Canada.

 

Addressing the effects of Covid-19 on teaching, research, and service

 

The three presidents of MAUT – past, present, and future – have held regular meetings with the Provost and Associate Vice-Provost since the start of the pandemic to raise immediate concerns that require their attention, and to offer timely feedback on things such as the “Guidelines for Instructors and Students on Remote Teaching, Learning, and Assessment” for Fall 2020 and Winter 2021.

 

In early June, I drafted a memo concerning the fall 2020 teaching term, expressing concerns collected from teaching staff who were burdened with dependent care duties due to the Covid-19 pandemic conditions. MAUT also emphasized the responsibility of the university to ensure (1) that standards and expectations for the Fall 2020 teaching term are adjusted equitably, and (2) that the teaching staff are adequately supported to fulfill their duties. The university administration responded to some of our concerns by developing a system for office access as the summer progressed, offering technical assistance for remote teaching as the fall term began, and allowing for flexibility in scheduling of remote teaching activities.

 

Tenure-track faculty and ongoing equity concerns

 

MAUT consistently raised concerns of tenure-track faculty especially pertaining to reappointment, tenure, and promotion in the context of Covid-19. While there are general restrictions experienced by everyone, there are unique vulnerabilities of different groups related to research or teaching, or based on mental health or dependent care duties. Currently, MAUT Executive members (President and VP Internal) are involved in the university’s “Micro” Task Force to Address COVID-19's Impact on Assessments of Academic Performance. As Covid-19 challenges will change for different cohorts of tenure-track staff, there is a need for ongoing monitoring, feedback from faculty, and deliberation about how to support faculty with research and teaching, and how to adapt university policies of assessment equitably.

 

Support of Dr. Kenneth Melville McGill Black Faculty Caucus

 

MAUT was also holding meetings shortly after the police-killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 in the United States. MAUT notes that McGill University’s plan to address anti-Black racism is on-going and will continue to monitor its progress. MAUT has also established regular contact with the McGill Melville Black Faculty Caucus, and supported two statements concerning McGill's Plan for Addressing Anti-Black Racism and the expression of the full n-word in classroom settings.

 

Workday issues

 

In mid-October 2020, I drafted a memo to administration outlining serious, ongoing problems concerning the Workday HR system. The memo was based on conversations with MUNASA and other employee groups (e.g., AGSEM, MCLIU). The memo outlined overwork among HR/managerial staff in the faculties due to cumbersome new processes that didn’t function properly, and lack of adequate training or support. These failures of planning resulted in delays in payment or non-payment to course lecturers, TAs, and non-permanent hires. The memo called on the university administration to develop mitigation measures to reduce the immediate strain on HR staff, and raised issues of (a) staff compensation for excess work since September 2020, and (b) accountability of those who planned this launch by way of a systematic analysis of their process failures.

 

Looking forward to 2021

 

I trust I am not alone in wishing that a New Year would bring the past year and all its difficulties to a swift close, but reality has proven otherwise. While we all wait for progress in vaccinations, we currently must cope with more restrictions that affect our ability to connect with family and friends, colleagues and students. Much continues to be uncertain, but through it all, MAUT will continue to try its best to be a representative and effective organization for all faculty interests and concerns in these extraordinary times.

 

Catherine Lu,

MAUT VP Internal


 

 

 

 

MAUT Survey on Workday Challenges

 

On August 4, 2020, McGill launched Workday, a cloud-based HR and Academic personnel management software system, that led to a variety of challenges for the McGill community. In response to this launch, and as part of ongoing efforts to address administrative overload among academic staff, MAUT conducted a survey about the impact of Workday on academic staff, released on October 20, 2020.

 

This survey received 195 responses from a cross-section of academic staff at the university for the 10 days it was active. The results overwhelmingly affirmed academic staff’s negative views of the Workday launch, for example, in terms of it causing greater time demands and stress, as well as perceived negative impacts on students and support staff.

 

The results also hinted that respondents who self-identified as women experienced more negative impacts than did others. Finally, MAUT completed a detailed qualitative analyses of respondents' open-ended comments, with the goal of identifying reactive solutions for the ongoing Workday situation, and proactive ways of reducing future administrative overload.

 

If any of our members wish to become involved with the MAUT Sub-committee on Administrative Overload to assist with these and other similar efforts, please contact maut@mcgill.ca.

 

Debra Titone,

MAUT Sub-committee on Administrative Overload


 

 

 

RAC Winter Lecture Series

 

The RAC’s Winter 2021 series of monthly Lectures follows the theme of Equity, Diversity and Racism. All presentations will be offered by Zoom, each beginning at 12-noon and open to all MAUT members, not just retirees. This gives retirees and regular members the opportunity to experience our lectures and it also builds support for MAUT members who may be pre-retirement.

 

Registration info will accompany forthcoming posters for each lecture. To RSVP, please email

maut.retirees@gmail.com.

 

Friday February 12: Colleen Sheppard, Faculty of Law; Understanding Systemic Discrimination in Challenging Times

 

Tuesday March 2: Cindy Blackstock, School of Social Work; Systemic Discrimination and its Impact on First Nations

 

Tuesday April 13: Debra Thompson, Department of Political Science; Race, Democracy, and the Boundaries of Belonging

 

Thursday May 13: Michael Smith, Department of Sociology; Saying Something about Discrimination is Harder than Some People Think

 

James Coulton,

Chair, MAUT Retiree Affairs Committee


 

2021 Motto: “Lâche pas la patate!”

 

The Quebec expression "Don’t let go of the potato" is an invitation to persevere and not give up.

 

This Cajun expression originated in the Acadian language and has been a popular expression in both Quebec and Louisiana since the beginning of the 20th century. It is one of my favorite French Quebec expressions of all time because you can apply it to almost any situation:

 

You can apply it to your private life, your professional life, and yes our COVID life!

 

I am amazed by what McGill faculty members have accomplished this year in terms of carrying out their pedagogical mission, learning new technology, coping with working remotely, and adapting their research in ways most of us never envisioned.

 

As always, MAUT is here to advocate for you and provide guidance on a personal basis in addition to:

  • Working in a collegial fashion with the McGill Administration Team to put forward the best possible working and studying conditions for our community
  • Improving McGill’s salary policy for 2021 and beyond such that it matches its national performance level
  • Improving our vigilance and feedback on the health of our pension plan
  • Promoting sustainable university practices that address the climate emergency and ongoing pandemic
  • Developing fair and transparent policies and procedures with regards to sexual and psychological harassment policies
  • Revising and improving regulations related to Academic Staff Grievance and Discipline as well as Research Misconduct
  • Advocating on equality and equity issues

 

So if you feel like "letting go of the potato", please feel free to reach out to MAUT and we will do our best to assist and advocate on your behalf. Please accept my best wishes for 2021!

 

Janine Mauzeroll,

MAUT President


MAUT Symposium Helps Faculty Navigate Canadian and US Tax Systems

 

On November 9th, 2020, MAUT organized a virtual financial education symposium where Jacinthe Marquis, a McGill graduate and expert in American/Canadian taxes gave practical advice about integrating Canadian and US tax systems.

 

The symposium, prompted by a member request, allowed more than 145 MAUT members to learn more about safe retirement investment options for US citizens that will not incur penalties (RRSP, TFSA, RESP etc). The feedback from the symposium was overwhelmingly positive.

 

Members commented that “Jacinthe Marquis’s presentation was pointed and clear and her response to questions reflected impressive expertise.” MAUT is thus planning to make this symposium an annual event as the complexity of the US-Canadian cross-border tax situation is unlikely to improve any time soon.

 

If you have similar concerns or additional questions that you would like answered in this upcoming symposium, just send us an email at maut@mcgill.ca.

 

Janine Mauzeroll,

MAUT President


 

 

Recent changes to the McGill University Pension Plan (MUPP)

 

Amendment No. 25 of the MUPP went into effect in August 2020. In addition to the existing array of settlement options offered to members, it introduced the new Variable Benefit (VB). The VB is an option whereby members can receive a life income fund (LIF) type payment directly from the MUPP and retain access to the MUPP’s investment structure and low fees.

 

In addition to existing transfer options, Part A (hybrid segment) members have the option to receive any Supplemental Retirement Benefit Value (SRBV) arising from the defined benefit minimum provision of the MUPP in the form of a pension annuity payment.

 

Settlement of holdings is permitted at the earlier of a member’s termination/retirement or by 71 at the latest. Members over age 65 who continue to be employed by the University may elect to make Additional Voluntary Contributions to the MUPP and benefit from an immediate tax relief at source.

 

To learn more, members are invited to register for an upcoming information session: https://www.mcgill.ca/hr/pensions/mupp/sessions.

 

John D'Agata,

Pensions & Benefits Director, McGill HR


Request for Feedback: Accessible Course Design Self-Reflection Tool

 

MAUT members are invited to provide constructive feedback on the development of a guided self-reflection for instructors on accessible course design.

 

The tool is an online a series of prompts, with accompanying resources, that allow instructors to review their teaching practices as they relate to supporting accessible and inclusive classrooms. As it is critical to ensure that the materials resonate within the academic community, the tool will be refined according to instructors’ input.

 

The working draft of tool can be found here and feedback can be submitted directly to rachel.desjourdy@mcgill.ca.

 

Rachel Desjourdy,

McGill Accessibility Advisor


 

Help Train Beirut Mental Health Professionals to Treat Victims of Traumatic Stress

 

After the August explosions, there is an increasing need for psychological care however there is a lack of therapists able to treat PTSD in Lebanon.

 

Dr A. Brunet (McGill) has launched with Dr S. Richa (St Joseph Univ., Beirut) a project to train 100 Lebanese therapists to apply an evidence-based treatment developed at McGill to treat PTSD. Reconsolidation therapy has been taught and implemented with success in Paris after the Bataclan attacks (2015), and in Nice after the truck attack (2016).

 

To donate: https://www.mcgill.ca/seedsofchange/project/help-us-train-lebanese-mental-health-professionals-treat-traumatic-stress

 

Alain Brunet,

Professor, McGill Department of Psychiatry


 

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