COVID-19 and Academic Freedom MOU

ULFA and the employer have signed an MOU that ensures instructors can choose to move classes online without asking for prior permission from their deans. The MOU is a temporary measure for the COVID period that leaves disputes about whether such changes are covered by academic freedom to one side.
Under the agreement, ULFA Members can choose to move courses online for two weeks or less without seeking approval, provided they provide an appropriate rationale to their chairs or deans after the move has been made.
Moves to online delivery of content beyond 2 weeks are to be done in consultation with the Dean. Discussions were had that consultation with the Dean does not require permission of the Dean, but is a chance to collaboratively discuss making the change. When shifting the method of delivery, every reasonable effort must be made to notify students and that the shift does not unfairly disadvantage students. Such moves to online delivery must also not require that students purchase any new equipment for the class beyond what was indicated they must have at the start of term (e.g. a webcam).
ULFA had filed a grievance arguing that University policies requiring Members to seek approval before changing the method of instruction in their classes from in-person to online violated members academic rights. In exchange for this MOU, ULFA withdraws the original grievance, without prejudice. The purpose of this MOU is to seek a workable solution to the immediate risk caused by the COVID-19/Delta wave, since grievances can take months or even years to settle.
The agreement extends until the end of the 2021-2022 Academic year. 
ULFA recommends using your right of accompaniment in these meetings, an ULFA member or staff can be provided by request to such meetings. This MOU does not change any existing policies or procedures that provide a Member additional flexibility in program delivery than what this MOU has allowed.
ULFA will be holding a workshop for members to present this MOU and answer any questions on October 14th at 1pm. Check your email for zoom details.

As always, please reach out to ULFA staff with any questions you may have on this or any other labour relations issues.

Photo by J. Kelly Brito on Unsplash