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Non-confidence motion issued against TRU

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has echoed a non-confidence motion adopted by the TRU Faculty Association in February
TRU sign

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has echoed a non-confidence motion adopted by the TRU Faculty Association back in February.

In an emailed letter sent to TRU president Brett Fairbairn and board chair Marilyn McLean, CAUT executive director David Robinson said the organization's council vowed no confidence in Fairbairn and McLean.

CAUT represents academic and professional staff at more than 120 universities and colleges across Canada.

"It is unfortunate that the administration has failed to address the concerns of the faculty association and the broader academic community," Robinson wrote. "I urge you to resolve this matter immediately so that confidence in the administration may be restored."

In February, TRUFA president Tara Lyster said 81 per cent of faculty who took part in a vote vowed no confidence in Fairbairn and 83 per cent vowed none in McLean. Among 689 TRUFA members, 56 per cent took part in the vote.

At issue is the alleged conduct of two senior university officials: Matt Milovick, the university's vice-president of administration and finance, and Larry Philips, the former head of human resources who no longer works for the university as of December 2021.

An anonymous complaint was sent to the board in February of 2021, alleging discriminatory conduct, discriminatory statements and/or harassment. The complaint, which involves up to 13 current and former university employees, alleges incidents of sexual harassment of female servers, misogynistic references to women and disparagement of Indigenous people at TRU and in the community, among other purported incidents.

KTW interviewed many of the complainant over several months last year.

None of the allegations in the complaint have been proven as the university’s investigation into the matter continues.

An investigation was set to be completed by March 31 of this year, but was extended shortly before its scheduled completion, with the university stating more time was needed to interview witnesses.

Lyster said TRUFA's non-confidence vote was never acknowledge by the university, but board chair Marilyn McLean did respond by letter on March 4, acknowledging that TRUFA members "are upset and have lost confidence in leadership."

CAUT's recognition of what TRU is facing is important, Lyster said.

"For TRUFA, it's significant because it's saying that our colleagues across the country are seeing what's happening here at TRU, and they support the non-confidence vote that happened," Lyster said.

Some faculty have also expressed concerns that there will be no transparency following the completion of the report.

Lyster said she'd like to see the report go to every member of the board, rather than just the chair.

"That affords a little bit more transparency. I don't think releasing it publicly or to a wide range of people is the best way, because there are people and lives and trauma at stake in this," she said.

A spokesperson for TRU said the additional interviews announced in March are still underway and the report is expected to be received "within two or three months."