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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: CAUT Begins the Process Toward Censure of UBC

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Message from the President

At its meeting on March 14 & 15, the CAUT Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee considered UBC's Policy 81 and all of the associated documentation. Following that consideration, the committee voted unanimously to recommend to the CAUT Executive that it bring a motion to CAUT Council in early May to begin the censure process of the UBC Administration. If they approve the recommendation, the Executive would bring a motion to Council that "CAUT will censure the UBC Administration at its November 2014 Council meeting unless the University ends the policy that the University may use, revise, and allow other UBC Instructors to use and revise a faculty member's teaching materials, unless the faculty member specifically prohibits such use."

CAUT's procedures relating to censure are available at http://www.caut.ca/about-us/caut-policy/lists/administrative-procedures-guidelines/procedures-relating-to-censure

To learn more about how the policy affects your teaching material, please read our newly created FAQ, which will be updated as necessary. You might also want to consult our Policy 81 webpage to stay abreast of this matter.

Please email us with your concerns so that we can continue to represent your views on this matter.

Policy 81: Commodifying Your Teaching Materials

Monday, 17 March 2014

Message from the President

On March 6th you received an email from David Farrar (Provost, UBCV) and Cynthia Mathieson (Provost, UBCO) describing Policy 81 (Use of Teaching Materials in a UBC Credit Course) as a simple mechanism to codify a common practice of sharing teaching materials at the University.  They wrote, “Our community of scholars has a tradition of sharing previously developed materials … However, this community tradition has not previously been supported by formal policy.” (emphasis added) The Faculty Association encourages the open sharing between peers that has been a longstanding tradition at the University.  Through Policy 81, however, the University has fundamentally altered this sharing tradition by granting to itself the right to use faculty teaching materials without express permission, a right that it never had in the past.  We question the University’s need for a policy that codifies the University’s right to the use of your teaching materials (including revising the material). Such a policy only seems necessary if the University is planning to commodify your materials in some manner. And this is a legitimate concern of the Faculty Association, given the Flexible Learning Initiative.

On page 2 of the rationale for Policy 81 dated 04 February 2014, the Board of Governors was informed that “The proposed Policy is intended to support the Student Learning Commitment by enabling curricula and pedagogy to be developed and revised to foster an effective and efficient student learning environment and to support UBC’s commitment to ... its Flexible Learning Initiative." (emphasis added) If you read through the report on the Flexible Learning Initiative, released in January 2013, it becomes obvious that the University sees this initiative as a potential revenue generator. Just one example of this can be found on page 5 under the bullet “Growth Learners” which reads “Accordingly one of the challenges for UBC is to explore how it might be able to re-purpose for this segment some of the content developed for the credit and certification markets.”  In order to support its strategic initiative to generate revenue from your teaching materials, the University, through Policy 81, has granted to itself the right to use and revise your teaching materials, unless you carefully protect them from such use, as described in my email of 25 February. Unlike the statement in the UBC broadcast email of March 6, 2014 (referenced above), Policy 81 is not simply intended to formally support in policy the rich tradition of collegial sharing for the purposes of pedagogical innovation. Policy 81 could well be the first step in turning the intellectual products of faculty over to the University for its own commercial gains as documented in the Flexible Learning Initiative.  

By creating a new and unnecessary administrative burden for those who do not wish to share their teaching materials with everyone in the University community, the policy moves faculty closer to a mandatory sharing policy.  In addition, inadvertence by a faculty member in carrying out this new and burdensome administrative task will result in the irrevocable forfeiture of an integral component of copyright – the right to determine who uses copyrighted material and how it will be used.  From the time that this policy was first circulated in draft form, a large number of members and the Faculty Association have vociferously opposed the imposition of an “opt-out” policy and have repeatedly recommended an “opt-in” policy as an alternative.  Now that Policy 81 has been passed, many faculty members have reported to us that they will abandon sharing their teaching materials all together as a result.

An email is not sufficient to fully outline the development of Policy 81, the Faculty Association’s numerous responses to the University, and CAUT’s concerns about the policy.  We encourage you to familiarize yourself with this policy and how it affects you by visiting the Faculty Association’s webpage devoted to Policy 81.

We urge you to speak out about this policy with your colleagues, your Head and your Dean. We also ask that you email us with your concerns so that we can continue to represent your views on this matter.