Open Letter to Principal Fortier regarding intended raise in class caps

Dear Principal Fortier,

We the undersigned, representing the Unions and Associations that make up the McGill community, write to express our serious concerns regarding recent developments involving a request by different Faculties to have class caps increased for the upcoming online summer courses. An email was sent to all its Course Lecturers asking each of them to increase their class cap by as much as 300% and it is being suggested by some Chairs and Directors that more graders be hired instead as a cost cutting solution. In this time of crisis and with what we are all going through together, we find this request to be disingenuous and opportunistic. One that disregards the well being of Course Lecturers, full time professors, teaching assistants, students and the McGill community.

As a community, we came together to address the COVID-19 crisis. The Course Lecturers and full time professors were called upon to undertake a momentous transition from in-class to online teaching for the safety of students, the safety of the McGill community and the integrity of our students’ education. All answered the call and we are now in the process of providing our students with the highest level of education possible under these demanding and stressful circumstances. Courses Lecturers are teaching while dealing with confinement, taking care of family, possible loss of income of their partners and many are concerned of their own job security as we move into the summer and fall sessions. This request to increase class caps is an affront to all of our work and sacrifices in response to the crisis.

In addition, this will impose even greater demands and create more stress for Course Lecturers and students alike. Courses with up to three times the present cap sizes will force Course Lecturers to work harder and longer while still earning the same salary per course. All this while knowing that these larger class sizes will inevitably mean less courses available to them and their fellow colleagues in the near future. Making their jobs even more precarious. Students themselves will not receive the education and support they deserve. With larger class sizes the availability of the Course lecturer to address their questions, concerns and needs will not be met by the high standards expected from a McGill University education.

Students will most likely have to also worry about privacy issues, as larger online class sizes will lead to more intrusive methods of testing in the name of efficacy. Students will be asked to give online proctoring programs permission to access their computers and record their every movement. Students, who will be paying for these courses, should benefit from the expected practices and standard we have in place, namely more regular cap course sizes that are more manageable and fair to all involved.

The email sent out by the Faculty cites demands from students for more summer courses. For the reasons stated above, we believe larger caps on online courses is not the answer. The only realistic answer is more course sections instead. We also believe this is an obvious attempt to undermine the Course Lecturer’s job security even more than its existing precarious situation and to undermine the McGill Course Lecturers and Instructors Union itself directly. We therefore ask you to address this issue in a manner that would better reflect McGill values and with empathy to all its faculty and students. Furthermore, we ask that the University respect the working conditions related to this matter and to send out a new message to all Course Lecturers, full-time professors, teaching assistants and students retracting the present demands.

Regards,

MCLIU (Course Lecturers and instructors) (CSN), President, Raad Jassim

And

AGSEM (Invigilators) (CSN), President Kiersten van Vliet

AGSEM (Teaching Assistants and Lab Demonstrators) (CSN), President, Kiersten van Vliet

AMURE Post-Docs (PSAC), President, Sean Cory

AMURE Research Assistants & Research associates (PSAC), President, Sean Cory

AMUSE (Floor Fellows) (PSAC), President Delali Egyima

AMUSE (Non-Academic Casuals) (PSAC), President Delali Egyima

MUNACA (Non-Academic support staff) (PSAC), President, Thomas Chalmers

Post-Graduate Students' Society of McGill University, External Affairs Officer, Esteban Gongora Bernoske

SEU Facilities management, Faculty Club, Residences, President, Jose Rego

SEU Macdonald campus (Powerhouse and Trades), President Andrew Fraser

SEU Trades Downtown, President, Allen Neil

SSMU, Vice President (External Affairs), Adam Gwiazda-Amsel

Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill

The Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM) was accredited in 1993 to represent Teaching Assistants at McGill, making us the oldest TA Union in the province. Invigilators joined AGSEM in 2010 and Course Lecturers in 2011. Course lecturers have since separated into the McGill Course Lecturers and Instructors Union (MCLIU).

Email: mail@agsem-aeedem.ca

Phone: 514-398-2582

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