(see our FAQ, last revised 26 April 2014)
Policy 81 Update
Faculty Association comments and recommendations regarding Policy 81: Use of Teaching Materials in UBC Credit Courses
Letter to Hubert Lai, University Counsel from Mark Mac Lean, President, February 26, 2015
The Faculty Association recently provided feedback to the University Counsel sharing the concerns of the Faculty Association arising from our careful read and our consultations with members. While the amended Policy is a significant improvement over the original, we have a few recommendations that we believe will clarify the intentions of the University with respect to the sharing of teaching materials. We also have some questions. To view our letter, please follow this link.
Join the Dialogue - UBC Board of Governors Reconsiders Policy 81: Consultation Period Begins
Letter to members from Mark Mac Lean, President, February 2015
At its February 12th meeting, the Board of Governors considered a draft proposal to amend Policy 81. The next step in the policy development process is community consultation. The Office of the University Counsel has published the proposal with a call for comments, which can be found here. A copy of the proposed policy is available on our website. The comment period is open until February 26, 2015.
In my opinion, the proposed amendments to Policy 81 make it a much simpler policy that will be readily understood by everyone. It acknowledges that faculty members will continue to own their teaching materials, but also clearly identifies situations in which these materials will become a shared resource within the university: either the faculty member will choose to put materials into a common repository, or the faculty member will engage in a project in which the university makes a material investment. Based on a meeting I had with the University Counsel to discuss the proposal, I am comfortable that, In both cases, the implementation of the proposal will involve the creation of clear transaction points for faculty members so they know when they are entering into situations covered by Policy 81. It is my view that, if it is approved, the proposal would settle the concerns raised by the Faculty Association in its grievance about the existing Policy.
Nonetheless, you may identify issues in the proposal that should be addressed before it is finalised and submitted to the Board of Governors for approval. I therefore ask that you read the proposal carefully and that you submit any comments or questions as soon as possible and, in any event, by February 26, 2015, to the Office of the University Counsel at firstname.lastname@example.org with a copy to the Faculty Association at email@example.com.
Mark Mac Lean
Policy 81 - Chronology
On February 20, 2014, the Board of Governors passed Policy 81 (Use of Teaching Materials in a UBC Credit Course) outside its regularly scheduled meeting process. The Faculty Association vigorously opposed Policy 81 as drafted, revised, and implemented at all stages of discussion with the University. Below we provide a short but important history of how this matter was handled by the Faculty Association and the University, and how the Policy links to the Flexible Learning Initiative.
- FA Submission on Policy 81 (13 October 2013)
In early fall, the Faculty Association sent out a call to members for feedback on the proposed Policy 81. We received extensive feedback and virtually all member responses included the view that they opposed an "opt out" policy. Based on member feedback and the Faculty Association’s analysis of the issue, the Faculty Association submitted its feedback of the policy to the University.
- FA President's email to President Toope (03 February 2014)
The Board of Governors was scheduled to meet on February 4th to review and potentially pass Policy 81. In an effort to make sure that President Toope was aware of the Faculty Association’s strong opposition to the policy as crafted, the President of the Faculty Association wrote an email to President Toope urging him to reflect on the fact that what the University was proposing by this policy was in contravention of the Copyright Act, the University's Copyright Policy, and the longstanding practice of the University.
- President Toope informed the Faculty Association's President on February 5th that the policy had been removed from the Board of Governor's agenda, for further discussion.
- The Faculty Association’s President offered to be involved in those discussions, and assumed that the revised policy might be put on the Board of Governor's agenda for the next regularly scheduled meeting (April 2014).
- University Counsel Hubert Lai offered to meet with the Faculty Association on February 24 to discuss ongoing concerns of the Faculty Association. At that meeting, much to the surprise of the Association, Mr. Lai announced that the policy had been passed on February 20 without any further consultation with us.
- FA President's email to FA members re: passing of Policy 81 (25 February 2014)
The Faculty Association President informs Faculty Association members of the passage of Policy 81, and advises members to protect all of their teaching material to make sure that they do not inadvertently “share” material, as this will grant irrevocable use and revision rights to UBC.
- CAUT letter to President Toope (28 February 2014)
CAUT (the Canadian Association of University Teachers) responded strongly to the passage of Policy 81, and advised UBC that if it does not withdraw the policy, CAUT will begin to implement a process toward censure of the University.
- UBC broadcast email re: Policy 81 (06 March 2014)
Despite the threat of censure by CAUT, UBC released a broadcast message asserting that Policy 81 is simply a mechanism to encode a common practice of sharing teaching materials at the University: “Our community of scholars has a tradition of sharing previously developed materials … However, this community tradition has not previously been supported by formal policy.” The University also misstates its consultation with the Faculty Association about the policy. Not once did the University mention that the Faculty Association objected, at every juncture, to the implementation of an "opt out" policy for sharing teaching materials.
- President Toope's response to CAUT (12 March 2014)
President Toope responded to CAUT that he did not agree with CAUT’s view of the situation on Policy 81, and indicated that arbitration between the University and the Faculty Association was the mechanism for a resolution of this dispute. The Association is deeply disturbed that the President of this University would find arbitration rather than dialogue and real consultation an appropriate mechanism for dispute resolution in this matter.
The Faculty Association files a grievance with the University regarding Policy 81 (17 March 2014)
The grievance letter outlines the key disputes the Association has with the Policy. The Association alleges that the University has contravened Part 1: Articles 13, 14, 16, and 17 and Part 4 and all other applicable and/or relevant parts and articles of the Collective Agreement and applicable law, including the CopyrightAct, RSC 1985, c C-42.
- FA President's email to FA members re: the commodification of teaching materials through Policy 81 (17 March 2014)
The Faculty Association President informs Faculty Association members of the legitimate concern that Policy 81 was passed so that the University could grant rights to itself to faculty members' teaching materials so that the materials could be commodified to serve the purposes of the Flexible Learning Initiative.
- FA President's email to FA members re: CAUT's Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee vote (20 March 2014)
The Faculty Association President informs Faculty Association members that the CAUT's Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee voted unanimously during its March 14 & 15 meeting to recommend to the CAUT Executive that it put forward a motion at the May Council meeting to begin the process of censure of UBC unless it ends Policy 81 as currently written.
- The Ubyssey publishes "Policy on sharing teaching materials opposed by Faculty Association," highlighting some of the issues surrounding Policy 81 (9 April 2014)
In the article, 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 arepository is zero." [emphasis added]
- The University denies the Association's grievance (15 April 2014).
On April 17, the University agreed to provide more fulsome response to the grievance. We will post this when it is available.
- FA President's email to FA members re: Blanket Opt Out Letter that was sent to the Provosts' Office for Policy 81 (23 April 2014)
- Jim Turk informs Stephen Toope that CAUT will begin a censure process against UBC (5 May 2014)
CAUT Council unanimously passed a motion on May 3 that it will censure UBC at its November 2014 meeting unless the University withdraws the provision in Policy 81 that allows the University to appropriate and modify faculty members' teaching materials unless expressively forbidden by the creator of the materials.
- The University's fulsome response to the Association's grievance (23 May 2014).
- FA President's email to FA members re: Policy Update (28 May 2014)
- Flexible Learning Initiative Report (January 2013)
On page 2 of the rationale for Policy 81 dated February 4, 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 outstanding teaching and its Flexible Learning Initiative." If you read through the report on the Flexible Learning Initiative, 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, the University, through Policy 81, has granted to itself the right to use and revise faculty members’ teaching and learning materials. 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. The policy is meant to turn the intellectual products of faculty over to the University for its own commercial gains as documented in the Flexible Learning Initiative.