The first matter I raised with the Principal was the fact that, given that the campus was open, some Members (and of course other Queen’s staff) still had to report to work. Therefore, the appropriate cleaning of the campus was imperative, and our Members were informing us that such cleaning was not being done. I also raised the fact that where Members were still required to report to work, as in the Library, there needed to be ad hoc accommodations—that is serious, non-bureaucratic consideration of individuals’ personal circumstances in determining who really needed to be there.
Since that conversation the libraries have closed. However, the campus is open and some QUFA Members may need to be there either because of laboratory research or ongoing programs. (Re: the latter, the situation in Nursing is unclear.) Unless the campus is closed, surfaces need to be cleaned and supplies of soap, paper towels and hand sanitizer maintained. Please let us know if this is the case. Peggy Smith, QUFA’s in-house counsel, informs me that the employer’s obligation to maintain a safe workplace includes maintenance appropriate to the current public health crisis. Also, we exhort QUFA Members who may be in charge of labs to be mindful that your research is less important than the health of the community and of your post-docs and lab assistants—that the point about ad hoc accommodations applies to those people as well. We ask that Members engaged in laboratory research let us know if you require assistance that you aren’t receiving with respect to implementing social distancing.
A second matter I discussed with the Principal was the messaging with respect to teaching. Please see today’s Gazette article with advice from Vice-Provost Teaching and Learning John Pierce. This advice distils the key points that were contained in messages that went out from both the Faculty of Arts and Science and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, messages that, in my view, were insufficiently liberated from institutional concerns with “outcomes” etc. The University is telling us to keep it simple and we need to take them at their word. We don’t have to Zoom, or Panopto or Chat. Students will likely not learn things they would have if we had completed the term normally and assessment may not be as precise; that’s OK, all things considered. This message is particularly important for term adjuncts who may find themselves doing more than they contracted for. If Members are penalized for their choices or conversely given shiny prizes for showing how clever and technologically resourceful they were in finishing out the term in the context of any personnel decision, rest assured that QUFA will kick over furniture. Personally, I am relying on the time-tested technology with which I am most comfortable: reading and writing. My students need to complete the readings and write a final paper which they will submit electronically. I mourn the final classes though, because nothing can replace the intellectual productivity of thinking face to face.
For entertainment and consolation, I offer you this, in case it hasn’t reached you yet –
Please continue to let QUFA know your concerns. The office is closed but Staff are available by email, as am I. Our upcoming issue of Voices will have more information about handling quarantine and sick leaves and QUFA’s plans for Member meetings in the coming months.
A full list of QUFA contacts is here: https://www.qufa.ca/about/contacts-and-organization/