Open Letter from YUFA and CUPE 3903 Unit 2 Members of the Department of History Reply

YUFA and CUPE 3903 Unit 2 members of the History Department register their profound disappointment at and strong disapproval of the way in which different levels of the university administration – at the level of our Faculty, Senate, the Provost, and the President – have handled the current CUPE 3903 strike.

That a large number of faculty members in the Department of History have decided to resume teaching on 23 March 2015 should in no way be taken as an endorsement or acceptance of an approach to the labour disruption which has been ineffective, divisive and contemptuous to many members of the university community. The reason that some members of the department are returning to class is because of their deep commitment to undergraduates, despite a profound discomfort at crossing the picket lines of York graduate students who are also deeply committed to the education of York undergraduates.

Members of the administration should know that their actions and their approach have significantly demoralized members of the university: full-time faculty, contract faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and staff.

The Department particularly objects to the ‘Proposed Remediation Framework’ circulated by the Dean of LAPS. This document showed a considerable disregard for the value of tutorial teaching; it degraded the contribution made to undergraduate teaching at York by Unit 1 and Unit 2s as tutorial leaders or course directors; and it egregiously referred to fulltime faculty’s genuinely-held desire to protect academic integrity by potentially not resuming classes as an example of “civil disobedience”.  This is not only inflammatory, it also shows a lack of graciousness in a difficult situation.

While attempting to exercise authority over faculty, contract faculty, and Unit 1s during this disruption, the leadership of LAPS, the Senate, the Provost, and the President have shown little in the way of effective, clear and unambiguous leadership, not least in the way policy has been changed from day to day. This has left us with little faith in the current university leadership.

We will end on a positive note. The History Department believes that academic integrity and academic excellence at York rest on the pedagogy developed and practiced by its fulltime faculty, contract faculty, and Unit 1s, including a system in which undergraduates obtain their education through a combination of lectures, tutorials and seminars directed by committed fulltime and contract faculty and Unit 1s. In the History Department we are all proud of the work we do in the classroom, work that is shared by fulltime faculty, contract faculty and Unit 1 TAs and that is complemented by the efforts of our staff.

We wish that there were more indication from the leadership of the university that they share this vision or appreciate the work being done.

Stephen Brooke, Professor

Elizabeth Cohen, Professor

Thomas Cohen, Professor

Patrick J. Connor, CUPE 3903 Unit 2

Boyd Cothran, Assistant Professor

Jose Curto, Associate Professor

Alan Durston, Associate Professor

Jonathan Edmondson, Professor

Sakis Gekas, Associate Professor

Aitana Guia, Assistant Professor

Craig Heron, Professor

Sean Kheraj, Assistant Professor

Janice Kim, Associate Professor

Rachel Koopmans, Associate Professor

Molly Ladd Taylor, Associate Professor

Moshe Lakser, Post-doctoral fellow and CUPE 3903 Unit 2

Paul Lovejoy, Distinguished Research Professor, Canada Research Chair

Bernard Luk, Associate Professor

Maynard Maidman, Professor

Colin McMahon, CUPE 3903 Unit 2

Michael Michie, Associate Professor

Leila Mitchell McKee, CUPE 3903 Unit 2

Carolyn Podruchny, Associate Professor

Nicholas Rogers, Distinguished Research Professor

Anne Rubenstein, Associate Professor

Margaret Schotte, Assistant Professor

Marlene Shore, Professor

Adrian Shubert, Professor

Jennifer Stephen, Associate Professor

Joseph Tohill, CUPE 3903 Unit 2

Andrew Watson, CUPE 3903 Unit 2

Ryan Wei, CUPE 3903 Unit 2

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