London

Q&A: Same faculty, different opinions: How 2 Fanshawe professors are voting this week

This week, Ontario's 12,000 striking college faculty will vote on an updated offer from the College Employer Council. Darren Chapman and Mike Sloan are both full-time professors in the faculty of business at Fanshawe College.

Ontario's 12,000 striking college faculty are voting on an offer from the College Employer Council

Mike Sloan (left) and Darren Chapman (right) teach in the same faculty, but have opposing ideas about the College Employer Council's latest offer. (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC News)

This week, Ontario's 12,000 striking college faculty members are voting on an updated offer from the College Employer Council.

If faculty endorses the offer, the strike would end and students could be back in classes as early as next Tuesday. If not, then both the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the council would be sent back to the bargaining table. 

Darren Chapman and Mike Sloan are both full-time professors in the faculty of business at Fanshawe College.

They spoke with CBC London about how they're voting this week.

Mike Sloan: "Yes"

Mike Sloan teaches marketing at Fanshawe College, and told CBC London he's voting "yes" on the College Employer Council's latest offer. (Submitted)

How are you voting?

"I'm voting to accept it. It's not that I'm that thrilled about it, because I would have accepted it the first time around, and this version is not even as good. The first offer included a signing bonus and retroactive pay to a certain date. This offer offers us as full-timers the full increase but it doesn't offer any retroactivity. But I'm still accepting it."

Why?

"It does increase my salary faster than the rate of inflation. I like my job, and I think it affords me a lot of flexibility in the way I deliver my content to students. I get a different schedule every semester so it never gets boring. I get a lot of freedom from my administrators to teach what I want to teach and how I want to teach it. I guess I just don't have that much of an issue with my job."

"[But] the number one reason why I'm going to vote for it is because we are destroying the lives of our students."

One of the points in these negotiations is the question of academic freedom. What do you think about it?

"At Fanshawe College, we are provided with ample academic freedom to deliver our courses to students the way we want to deliver them. In a way that keeps them up-to-date, in a way that makes them conducive to our teaching style."

Many faculty members say they're voting "no." Why not you?

People who say they're on the picket line for students because all this needs to be changed, and everything will be better in the future? What about the students who are here right now?- Mike Sloan

"We are going on strike against our students that have paid for this tuition and that have planned their lives around this schedule. Some of which are international students that have paid three times as much tuition if not more, that have planned to fly home for Christmas break, and this has completely flipped upside down on them."

"People who say they're on the picket line for students because all this needs to be changed, and everything will be better in the future? What about the students who are here right now? They're getting screwed, and everyone knows it, but it's a select few of us that are admitting it. That's why I'm voting yes."

Darren Chapman: "No"

Darren Chapman teaches economics at Fanshawe College, and told CBC London he'll be voting "a resounding no" on the College Employer Council's offer. (Submitted)

How are you voting?

"Resoundingly no."

Why?

"There's really been no change in what we're negotiating for. There has been some details in their offer that are somewhat bait and switch. There's really not any substantial changes in what we've had over eight years, and those things need to change. I want a negotiated contract—one that both parties have agreed to, not one that's been forced on me."

I want a negotiated contract—one that both parties have agreed to, not one that's been forced on me.- Darren Chapman

What do you think some of the remaining issues are? 

"There's really two things that we went out for. One was [having] more full-time professors versus part-time. But the other one is academic freedom and that's one thing the colleges are not wanting to budge on but really need to be budged on."

"Degrees mean that there should be some arms-length decisions on what is taught in the classroom. Not by decisions made by commercial interests or the board of governors through the college."

"We also don't believe that a commercial entity should be telling students what they ought to be learning. What they ought to be learning should be a decision of academics, especially if [the college is] offering degrees."

Your colleague Mike Sloan made the point that he would accept a lesser deal if it meant getting students back in the classroom. How would you respond?

"I have a different opinion than Mike, because what I believe is that I am fighting for those students. Those students don't recognize that they're going out to a work world that is slowly changing from full-time jobs to part-time, and there's no check and balance in this. No one is standing up to it and saying: 'Wait a minute, is this really where we want to go?'"

"I know I'm inconveniencing people, but what students also have to understand is that while they're inconvenienced I'm standing up for my rights as well as theirs. I get that it's inconvenient, I get that it's messy, but this is what democracy is all about."

Note: The interviews have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

About the Author

Paula Duhatschek

Reporter/Editor

Paula Duhatschek is a reporter with CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. You can reach her at paula.duhatschek@cbc.ca.

Paula Duhatschek