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Academic freedom is a hot button issue at the University of Regina and the Faculty Association is hoping to spread the word. URFA set up pop-up information tables in the Classroom Building and Riddell Centre at the university today. “Bottom line is, we would like to be protected in our duties,” URFA member Marc Spooner said.

 

The collective agreement between the U of R administration and faculty covers less than the agreement with Campion College.

 

Article 2, Section 2.1.1 of the agreement shows the U of R’s agreement covers “teaching, research and scholarship,” while Campion’s agreement covers “teaching, research, scholarship, professional activities, and service.”

 

Spooner, an associate professor of education, advocates parity and language similar to the Campion agreement.

 

Shelagh Campbell, assistant professor in the business administration faculty, emphasizes the importance of service work, which involves lending academic expertise to campus activities and the wider community.

 

The U of R agreement states faculty members are obligated to perform services such as “internal and external activities” related to teaching. Campbell points out that although the services are mandatory and not a choice, they aren’t included under academic freedom protection.

 

Public letters of disagreement regarding university policies may not be protected, for example.

 

Service work is only protected under Campion College’s agreement. Spooner and Campbell both agree the language in the agreements needs to be equal.

 

The University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon was the centre of controversy regarding academic freedom earlier this year.

 

In March, U of S professor and head of the School of Public Health Robert Buckingham was fired and his tenure revoked after he spoke out against the TransformUS program. The decision was later labeled a mistake. Buckingham was offered to return to his former position and his tenure be restored.

 

Bettyann Cox, executive director for URFA, summarizes the goal as protection of staff from ramifications or retaliation from the university or the community if they feel the need to be critical based on their own research or experience.