FPSE Calls for Institutional Autonomy Over Safe Campus Decisions

Dear Kwantlen Faculty Association Members,

In just over three weeks we are scheduled to return to campus. While many are excited about the return, many are also concerned about the safety of that return in light of a growing fourth wave. We have heard from some of you who are feeling frustrated as you observe additional measures being implemented in some Ontario post-secondary institutions while institutions here seem poised to stay the course. Additional measures are not being implemented by individual post-secondary institutions in BC because the Return to Campus Guidelines direct institutions not to “introduce COVID-19 prevention measures that are different  from those supported by public health professionals.”

The Federation Post-Secondary Educators of BC (FPSE) does not agree with this directive. Therefore, it has sent a letter to Minister Kang (attached), calling on her to “affirm the autonomy of BC’s public universities and colleges to continue to establish the health and safety rules governing safe campuses, such as the introduction of mask or vaccine mandates, modes of course delivery, class size reductions to enable social distancing, and full engagement of on-campus joint health and safety committees.” The letter also stresses that “what is necessary is that institutions hold the autonomy to make decisions based on a plurality of factors and informed by the needs of the local campus community.” In sending this letter, FPSE was supporting the same call made by the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC (CUFA BC) on August 5th.

We have shared FPSE’s letter with KPU administration and expressed support for its position. Your KFA representatives continue to advocate for safe working conditions for the fall return while being mindful of privacy legislation, human rights, the right to bodily integrity, collective agreement provisions, and the Union’s duty to represent all members. In addition, the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee continues its work to ensure a safe workplace.

Finally, if you haven’t already filled out the brief (2 minute) KFA Survey on the Fall 2021 Return to Campus, you can do so here. The survey closes on Monday, August 16th at 9 am. We will share the results of the survey with you, and your responses will help your KFA representatives advocate on your behalf.

FPSE Letter to Minister Kang 12 August 2021

In solidarity,

Gillian Dearle

President, Kwantlen Faculty Association