On Mar. 20 CAUT and the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia (CUFA/ BC) announced an agreement with the Technical University of British Columbia (TechBC) to lift an eight-month boycott of Canada's newest university.
"The agreement is the result of three months of negotiation between TechBC, CAUT and CUFA/ BC," said Tony Sheppard, President of CUFA/BC.
"Under this agreement, the TechBC Board of Governors will implement policies that guarantee the academic freedom of faculty, librarians, other academic staff and students, that put academic decision making in the hands of academic staff and students, and that guarantee the institution will hire academic staff into, what are for all practical purposes, tenured positions."
"In signing this agreement, we have not solved all problems at TechBC," said Bill Bruneau, President of CAUT. "But we have answered the most important questions, and all three parties have committed themselves to ongoing discussions and cooperation."
The agreement does not amend the TechBC legislation, but rather makes use of certain powers of delegation given the TechBC Board of Governors. Under those powers, TechBC's board will now delegate a wide range of academic powers to the senate-like body called the Academic Planning Board comprising academic staff, students, and external representatives.
"This agreement is the best we were able to achieve under defective legislation," said Robert Clift, Executive Director of CUFA/BC. "Our next task is to persuade the provincial government to fix the legislation."
As the result of this agreement, CAUT has suspended all boycott activities pending the formal lifting of the boycott by its Council in early May, and CUFA/BC has ceased all boycott activities.
CAUT and CUFA/BC will continue to monitor the situation at TechBC and work with the administration and board. CAUT and CUFA/BC will also offer advice to academic staff members considering employment at TechBC.
"The agreement is somewhat complex, and we want potential academic staff members to understand it fully," Clift said.
The organizations are also pleased that the provincial government has begun to answer the criticism that TechBC would draw funding away from the other universities.
"We were glad to hear Advanced Education Minister Andrew Petter announce last week the allocation of new funding for TechBC," Sheppard said. "We expect the province will continue to put in the necessary new money, and not drain it away from the existing universities."
Full details of the agreement are available at the CUFA/BC web site: http://cufabc.harbour.sfu.ca/tubc/index.html.