UMFA calls on University of Manitoba administration to prioritize student, faculty, and staff safety
Administration must consult with UMFA

December 17, 2021

Winnipeg - The University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) calls on the University of Manitoba administration to proactively protect students, faculty, and staff from rising COVID-19 cases. Across Canada, universities are quickly moving exams and classes online as the Omicron variant is spreading.  With plans to return to campus in-person in the new year, the UofM administration has not provided students or UMFA members with any indication of how increasing COVID-19 cases are affecting these plans, and whether virtual learning will continue.

“The university administration has an obligation to provide a safe learning environment for students, and a safe working environment for faculty and staff. The administration should be consulting with UMFA to develop a plan for winter term, as COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing and the Omicron variant is spreading” said Orvie Dingwall, UMFA President. “Students have experienced so much uncertainty and disruption over the last 20 months, the university administration should be proactive with its response to this fourth wave of COVID-19. Students need certainty in what the next term will look like, and our members need ample time for teaching preparations.”

The call from UMFA comes as the administration has repeatedly canceled meetings relating to handling of COVID-19 on campus. The administration is obligated to consult and work with faculty on these matters. UMFA fears that decisions about returning to in-person classes in January are being made unilaterally, and without proper input from faculty, which could worsen the educational experience for students.

“As other universities have moved online in the face of the Omicron variant, we’re asking the administration to involve us in the university’s collegial processes,” said Dingwall. “After the strike ended, University President Benarroch spoke about the need to work better with faculty. This is his opportunity to strike a new tone that will incorporate faculty perspectives into what a safe and effective winter term looks like”.

The University of Manitoba Faculty Association represents over 1,200 professors, instructors and librarians at the University of Manitoba.