Investing in faculty is money well spent

Image by: Katharine Sung

Queen’s should stop shortchanging faculty or risk further damaging its reputation.

After months of negotiations with the University, the Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA) is serious about striking at the end of the month if talks don’t yield results by then.

The Association feels Queen’s has taken a hostile approach to negotiations, with reasonable requests rejected outright.

For example, in response to a QUFA-proposed “working group” focused on retaining BIPOC faculty, the University’s Chief Negotiator denied Queen’s has retention issues and called the suggestion that Kingston’s lack of diversity is a deterrent offensive.

The University’s attitude is concerning. We can’t expect Queen’s to become a more inclusive community if we refuse to acknowledge our shortcomings. The University shouldn’t hesitate to admit attracting and retaining BIPOC faculty is a unique challenge in a predominantly white city with deep colonial roots.

Queen’s claims it wants to attract a diverse group of students and faculty, but won’t address how Kingston can be a hostile environment for BIPOC individuals. Touting diversity without investing in it isn’t working—it’s okay to admit that and change direction.

It’s not personal. Let’s not meet constructive criticism with hostility.

Students should want to attend an institution that offers competitive compensation and benefits to attract—and retain—the best instructors.

Job security and good benefits aren’t huge asks, especially considering the time and money faculty members invest into research and honing their expertise. The value they bring to our university community is not properly recognized by the Queen’s administration.

When a program has a core of tenured profs, they act as pillars to support the program and foster academic engagement.

Unfortunately, the University’s attitude in addressing QUFA’s concerns highlights this institution’s hypocrisy. Queen’s likes its prestige, but doesn’t want to invest in maintaining it.

When tenured professors are disproportionately white while most BIPOC instructors are on temporary contracts without the same job security and benefits, Queen’s is exploiting BIPOC labour. Contracts end, people move on, and that’s how we end up with the wrong instructors for certain courses.

A good learning environment isn’t all in the PR. Queen’s needs BIPOC faculty more than they need us. It’s time to act like we value their lived experience instead of just saying so.

The University frequently circulates surveys asking how to improve campus inclusivity, then shuts down proposals like QUFA’s “working group” when they don’t like the answer.

It’s easy for QUFA issues to stay off the average student’s radar, and even if students know about the negotiation challenges between the Faculty Association and the University, few are aware of the implications or what they can do about it.

The University should be more transparent on this issue—and others—that could affect students. Likewise, students should seek out information available to them, and ask for answers when important information such as this is withheld.

If a QUFA strike is what it takes to see action on BIPOC faculty retention and other important issues the University has chronically neglected, students should stand behind it.


faculty, Faculty strike, QUFA, strike

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