In Uncategorized

In October, BUFA filed a grievance against the University for violations of the Academic Freedom (Article 11) and Legal Liability (Article 47) provisions of our Collective Agreement. This grievance concerns matters of great importance for all of our members. Therefore, you should be aware of the context of this grievance and the general issues involved.

Earlier this year, an individual associated with the Solidarity Experiences Abroad (SEA) program named one of our members as a respondent in a complaint filed with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The complaint focused on comments made by our member criticizing the Solidarity Experiences Abroad (SEA) program ( and the University’s involvement in promoting student participation in SEA. In fact, motions expressing similar concerns with the SEA program and its links with Brock have been approved by a number of units, including the Woman’s Studies Program Committee, the Department of Sociology, and BUFA. The complaint was summarily dismissed by the Human Rights Tribunal on Oct. 9, 2012; details of the case, the decision, and the rationale for the decision can be found at

In preparation for the hearing before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, our member and BUFA asked the University to provide her with insurance coverage for legal representation and other support. This request was made with reference toArticle 47 of our Collective Agreement, in which the University has agreed to maintain insurance for members “who are acting within the scope of their employment against liability claims” (Article 47.01).

The University denied our member’s request for this assistance, even though it strongly recommended that our member needed to retain counsel. The University’s primary rationale was that our member was not acting within the scope of her employment in critiquing the SEA program. The University further explained that our member was never requested or assigned to criticize or provide comments on the University’s relationship with the SEA program nor did the SEA fall within the member’s department.

Frankly, the Union was astounded by the University’s response. BUFA’s position is that faculty and librarians have the right to comment on all aspects of our University, including programs outside our departments that affect our students, staff, faculty members, librarians, and the larger community. Indeed, we have a responsibility to speak out in ways that we believe will improve the University and its impact, and that such commentary is an important part of our role as academics. The University, however, has denied that such critical commentary is within the scope of our employment (unless we are specifically assigned this task by the employer). Further, it has failed to help defend one of our colleagues who did speak out, even though issues of academic freedom were involved.

BUFA must challenge the University’s positions on the breadth of our academic freedom, our rights to critique the university and associated programs, and its responsibility to provide us with assistance when our academic freedom is threatened. We will keep you informed as our grievance proceeds.

Linda Rose-Krasnor, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychology
President, Brock University Faculty Association

Recent Posts
Contact Us

Send us an email and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Start typing and press Enter to search