Today the University of British Columbia Faculty Association presented a letter to the University administration declaring a blanket opt-out from the provisions recently enacted in Policy 81 (Use of Teaching Materials in a UBC Credit Course). In enacting Policy 81, UBC granted itself the right to use, share, and revise teaching materials of its faculty.
Policy 81, is an unprecedented move in Canadian higher education, which violates principles of academic freedom, Canadian copyright law, and UBC’s own copyright guidelines. UBCFA has argued that Policy 81 undermines customary sharing of teaching materials among faculty by commodifying them. UBCFA informed FA membership of “the legitimate concern that Policy 81 was passed so that the University could grant rights to itself of faculty members’ teaching materials so that the materials could be commodified to serve the purposes of the Flexible Learning Initiative.”
On February 20, 2014, the Board of Governors passed Policy 81 outside its regularly scheduled meeting process. The UBCFA has opposed Policy 81 as drafted, revised, and implemented at all stages of discussion with the University.
In an article published by The Ubyssey on April 9, Associate Provost Hugh Brock defended the individual opt-out provision, as opposed to an opt-in approach:
[A database of teaching materials is] “only good if it’s up to date, it’s searchable and compliance is high,” said Brock. “Most professors are updating their courses every year. The likelihood that we could keep, curate and get people to send to a repository is zero.” (The Ubyssey, “Policy on sharing teaching materials opposed by Faculty Association,” 9 April 2014).
The UBCFA has points out that
Brock’s comments demonstrate that the University is not interested in the current practice of voluntary sharing of teaching materials that has historically and traditionally occurred at the University. Instead, it wants to make sharing compulsory unless you state otherwise. The suggestion within the policy that ownership remains vested with the faculty member who created the materials is totally meaningless and hollow once the University can use your teaching materials at will, including revising them and giving them to others to use.
In March, the UBCFA filed a grievance against the University over Policy 81. The Canadian Association of University Teachers has begun the process of censuring UBC in response to Policy 81.