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Policy 81: News & Updates

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The UBC Faculty Association is committed to promoting the interests of UBC Faculty and UBC, addressing all levels of government on university affairs and upholding principles of academic freedom and freedom from discrimination and harassment.

The UBC Faculty Association is committed to promoting the interests of UBC Faculty and UBC, addressing all levels of government on university affairs and upholding principles of academic freedom and freedom from discrimination and harassment.

NEWS & EVENTS

Policy 81: Blanket Opt Out Now In Effect

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Message from the President

I am writing to inform you that earlier today, the Faculty Association sent a letter on your behalf to the University regarding its recently enacted Policy 81. 

We heard loudly from large numbers of you that you did not agree with having to individually opt out of that policy to protect your teaching materials – and that you also objected to the administrative burden this policy has created. In response to the clear message we have received from our members, including a request for a blanket opt-out direction, we have issued such a blanket opt out on your behalf with this letter.  Consequently, your teaching materials are now protected from being appropriated by the University for its own purposes, unless you indicate clearly that your materials are to be shared.

Policy 81 is unprecedented in the Canadian academic landscape.  No other University has granted itself the right to use, share and revise the teaching materials of its faculty.  This policy, in its current form, is an affront to academic freedom, to the longstanding and customary sharing practices of faculty that have long characterized the academy, and is, in our opinion, contrary to Canadian copyright law and UBC’s own copyright guidelines.

In an article published by the Ubyssey on April 9, Hugh Brock (Associate Provost of Academic Innovation) made clear why the University created Policy 81 with an opt-out provision, rather than an opt-in provision:

[A database of teaching materials is] “only good if it’s up to date, it’s searchable and compliance is high,” said Brock. “Most professors are updating their courses every year. The likelihood that we could keep, curate and get people to send to a repository is zero.” (Ubyssey, “Policy on sharing teaching materials opposed by Faculty Association,” 9 April 2014). [emphasis added]

Brock’s comments demonstrate that the University is not interested in the current practice of voluntary sharing of teaching materials that has historically and traditionally occurred at the University. Instead, it wants to make sharing compulsory unless you state otherwise. The suggestion within the policy that ownership remains vested with the faculty member who created the materials is totally meaningless and hollow once the University can use your teaching materials at will, including revising them and giving them to others to use.

The Faculty Association fully supports open access and sharing between colleagues. This policy, however, goes much further than that.  Please note that the Faculty Association’s blanket opt out on behalf of members does not prevent individual faculty members from making their teaching materials available to all members of the University community. If you wish to opt in to the policy, nothing prevents you from doing so on an individual basis.

The history of the Policy 81 dispute with the University can be found here.

Please email us your comments, questions, and concerns so that we can continue to represent your views on this matter.