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MARGIN NOTES

UBC faculty association appeals court decision

Association asks the Supreme Court to hear the landmark case involving university governance.

By LÉO CHARBONNEAU | JUN 30 2010

The University of British Columbia Faculty Association has filed with the Supreme Court of Canada an application for leave to appeal the decision of the B.C. Court of Appeal regarding the UBC senate’s policy on student evaluation of teaching.

OK, that’s a bit of a mouthful. Let me translate: the UBC Faculty Association disagrees with the B.C. Court of Appeal’s recent decision regarding academic governance and is appealing that decision to the Supreme Court.

As I explained in a blog post in April, the case revolves around a collective agreement signed between UBC and its faculty association. One of the provisions in the agreement relates to student evaluations of teachers. However, in May 2007, the university senate passed a new policy on student evaluations of teaching which replaced the previous policies. The faculty association alleged the new policy was in violation of the collective agreement and filed a grievance, which was referred to an arbitrator. In a March 2009 decision, the arbitrator concluded he had no jurisdiction to review the senate policy.

The faculty association sought a judicial review of that decision. The Court of Appeal heard the appeal this past spring and dismissed it, upholding the arbitrator’s position.

University Affairs carried a news story on the decision (“When a senate decision conflicts with a collective agreement”) as did Maclean’s On Campus (“UBC faculty union loses, students win”).

In its application to the Supreme Court, the UBC Faculty Association states that, if the Court of Appeal decision is allowed to stand, it “will have profound implications for virtually every university and for faculty across Canada. It constitutes a body blow for collective bargaining for university professors and other academic staff.”

The Supreme Court is not automatically obligated to hear the case – it will make its decision likely within the next several weeks whether or not to hear the appeal.

ABOUT LÉO CHARBONNEAU
Léo Charbonneau
Léo Charbonneau has been the deputy editor of University Affairs since 2003. He started the Margin Notes blog in 2009 and it has gone on to win several awards, including Best Blog at the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.
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