President’s Letters & News

Holiday Message to all Faculty 2022

by | Dec 15, 2022 | PRESIDENT’S LETTERS

Looking back, Looking forward

In preparing to write this message, I read over what I wrote last year at this time. Then, it was all about vaccine mandates (or not), vaccine passports, stresses about return to campus, and questions around who to notify if our students or ourselves came down with Covid. The landscape now is quite different. First off, “return to campus” seems to be a thing of the past, at least in the way we used to view it. Our faculty and students have embraced hybrid or online teaching in programs where it works, and I see no signs of that changing. Secondly, despite the fact that a huge number of us were sick over the past few months with either Covid, the flu, or other respiratory ailments, we continue to carry on, unrestricted. This is the new normal, presumably here to stay.

I read an article by a psychologist the other day that suggested that we are all exhausted this December for very good reason. The past year was about emerging from the two previous apocalyptic years, and it has been challenging. All along in this pandemic, the mental and emotional strain has been as challenging as the physical work of attempting to keep ourselves and loved ones healthy. Those of you who teach and work in health care settings have likely felt this acutely. This year, I noticed that my emails began dropping off in December. I think people are exhausted and shifting away from work as a form of self-care. This seems reasonable and sane to me. We need a break.


Ongoing issues 

We continue to advocate for EAL faculty and for a maintained, planned strategy to avoid layoffs going forward. In a similar vein, lately we have heard of classes being cut in College Foundations – we heard about this only two days ago. We must get to a place where the deans in question are not constantly reacting late and excessively to situations of lowered enrolment. Where is the planning? We want deans to come to us as soon as there is a hint of concern, and then rather than begin talk of inevitable layoffs, let’s fight the cuts. Let’s work with marketing and the RO and let’s get bums in seats. These are very basic ideas, and yet time and time again, we live through the same narrative. We are working to change that conversation.

These cuts relate to VCC’s financial situation. I know you likely know this, but just to be clear: most other institutions do not offer tuition free programs of the size we offer here in EAL and ABE. Other institutions limit the size of these programs because they are costly. They have chosen instead to bring in large numbers of International students, and this has meant they have large surpluses. VCC is committed to continuing to deliver the Access agenda and to serve those students who are not served elsewhere. The conundrum is how to afford to do it. Ajay and The Board of Governors continue to advocate with all levels of government for increased funding to support the work that we do here – work that is not being done elsewhere that must continue for the good of the communities we
serve. Advocacy around increased funding will be a large part of our work here at the VCCFA this coming year. 

One other area of concern for us is the way that student complaints are handled at the college. We seem to be in an era of litigiousness, and we are seeing more situations of groups of students coming together to make complaints about faculty members. While students must have legitimate and clear processes for raising complaints {the college’s new student complaint portal is one such process), our concern is that often faculty don’t learn of these complaints until they are brought in front of their dean and HR in a formal way. In addition, many of these complaints turn out to be baseless. Unless there are issues of safety, students should bring concerns to the member in question and the DH. Issues should be solved, where possible, at the departmental level. The way that complaints are handled will be another theme we work on this year.

Labour relations have been strained this year due to the fact that the college is challenging our interpretation of the collective agreement in a couple of notable ways that have led to grievances. It is frustrating, as in a few cases, our interpretation has held for over 30 years. We are not sure why the college is insisting on new interpretations since there doesn’t seem to be any reason for it. This continues to be frustrating for us.


Bargaining is moving along. The team has their final bargaining session of the year with the college on December 20th and hopes to finish up the housekeeping items during that session. That means that in January, they will begin on the substantive demands. Thanks to the bargainers for their hard work: Frank Cosco (currently with family in Japan), John Demeulemeester, Alison Woods, Karen Brooke, Nahid Ghani, and Lorraine Rehnby.

I accept invitations 

I would be happy to come to any of your departmental meetings. I could answer questions, meet newer faculty, and you could tell me about concerns in your area. Department leaders, just send me an email if you want to set something up.


Thanks to those who joined us at the AGM on December 1. We had a decent turnout despite so many people being sick and the weather being inclement. It was lovely to get a chance to chat with some of you informally or to put faces to names. Thanks and congratulations to everyone who put their names forward for the Executive or to be a Steward – I am grateful for your service. Thanks to all of you for your support throughout the year. Thanks to Audrey {the person behind for running the office with aplomb and being a hell of a lot of fun to boot. Thanks to Frank and John for making me laugh and having my back.

Wishing all of you a restful, fun, restorative holiday season.