Equity Committee Terms of Reference

Effective March 2023.

The Equity Committee is a standing committee of the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW) and advises the FAUW Board of Directors on all matters of equity that impact faculty. As such, the Equity Committee is responsible for naming inequity and calling on the FAUW Board of Directors to address and act on equity matters for its members, in particular those matters impacting members of equity-deserving groups.

Members shall meet as a committee once a month from September through June. The committee may appoint working groups that have specific directives. All working groups shall report and be responsible to the members of the committee. 


The committee is concerned with equity issues including those covered by the protected grounds of Ontario's Human Rights Code. The committee engages in educational and advocacy activities as appropriate and liaises with other related committees of the University, OCUFA, and CAUT. 

Committee structure, recruitment, and selection 

  • There shall be 13–15 voting members of the committee, including the chair, chair-elect, past-chair, representative of Renison Association of Academic Staff (RAAS),and representative of the Librarians’ and Archivists' Association of the University of Waterloo (LAAUW). The LAAUW and RAAS shall each select one of their members to serve as a voting member.
  • Membership must be composed of at least 50% gendered and 50% racialized faculty with priority given to applicants with intersectional backgrounds (that is, disadvantaged by multiple sources of oppression: race, gender, sexuality, religion, disability). Whenever possible, Black and Indigenous applicants should be prioritized. If there are not sufficient numbers of gendered and racialized applicants to allow the committee to reach gender and racial parity, the committee should solicit applicants and accept applications on a rolling basis. The Black Faculty Collective and the Indigenous Advisory Circle/Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre are invited to select a faculty member to serve on the Equity Committee. As collectives form to represent racialized peoples on campus, those caucuses also will be invited to select a faculty member.  
  • Membership should be composed of faculty whose either self-identification, lived experience and/or area of expertise facilitates the committee's capacity to engage with equity issues from equity-deserving groups. Whenever possible, the committee should privilege self-identified minoritized members and members with lived experience. The committee acknowledges that applicants may be disadvantaged by multiple sources of oppression and may or may not choose to disclose those identifications. 
  • Membership should comprise at least one faculty member from all six faculties (Health, Science, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, and Environment).
  • Each committee member is invited to serve for a renewable two-year term, up to three consecutive terms. Committee members should declare their interest in renewal by the April meeting of the second year of their term. 
  • Once membership has been decided, per the FAUW Constitution, the Equity Committee recommends members to the Board for final approval.


  • Vacancies shall be advertised widely with the aim of establishing a diverse committee that includes representatives from different parts of the campus and from many equity-deserving groups of the Waterloo campus.  
  • A call for members shall be posted for one month every spring. The deadline for submissions shall be at least seven days prior to selecting new members. 
  • Voting on new members shall occur at or before the June meeting, and may involve proxy voting for those members unable to attend. Recruitment and selection of replacement members of the committee shall follow the advice of Member Recruitment and Selection with regard to the prioritization of Black and Indigenous representation. Representation from all six faculties should be ensured.
  • In the event that a member leaves the committee prior to the end of their term, the committee shall appoint a mid-term replacement or leave the vacancy until the next call for members. Recruitment and selection of replacement members of the committee shall follow the advice of Member Recruitment and Selection with regard to the prioritization of Black and Indigenous representation. Representation from all six faculties should be ensured.  
  • Members appointed on an interim basis will be offered a full-term membership at the next vacancy. The official first term of a member appointed mid-term begins the following July 1. 

 Committee transparency and communication 

  • The President of FAUW or a member of the Board may provide a written report (in lieu of an oral report) typically submitted at least one week in advance of a meeting. The Equity Committee may request to follow up in person, as needed. At meetings with the President of FAUW in attendance, listening to the concerns, priorities, and recommendations of the Equity Committee will be at the forefront.
  • In the spirit of mutual collaboration, the FAUW Board of Directors and the Equity Committee work in reciprocal relationships to one another in order for the Equity Committee to advise the Board and general membership. Having received recommendations from the Equity Committee, the FAUW Board typically will provide written acknowledgement of receipt and a response to that information and/or advice. While the FAUW Board has the power to act on the advice or recommendations of the Equity Committee; the Equity Committee has the power to fulfil its mandate and advocate for equity.
  • A member of the Equity Committee, excluding the Chair, will serve as secretary for each meeting. Members of the committee should acknowledge the degree of privilege that they possess by volunteering to act as secretary and taking notes for the meeting for the whole committee. Members may volunteer for one meeting, a series of meetings, or for a particular length of time. 
  • The chair of the Equity Committee will provide a written report to the FAUW Board following each EC meeting, and will be expected to maintain communication with the FAUW Board on an ongoing basis.
  • The chair of the Equity Committee will update the committee on the relevant details of any meetings attended in their capacity as chair.
  • The Equity Committee shall consult and be transparent with equity-deserving groups who are impacted by the Equity Committee’s work.

 Election of the chair 

  • The chair/chair-elect shall be elected by the current committee members and shall typically serve a one-year term as chair-elect, a two-year term as chair, and a one-year term as past chair. The term of chair is four years and typically (per budget constraints) comes with two course releases for two years as chair.
  • Should a current chair be unable or unwilling to complete their term, either the past-chair or chair-elect may take their place. Should neither be willing, a new chair may be nominated and elected by the committee.
  • Committee members should prioritize leadership opportunities, including the post of chair, for Black, Indigenous, and Members of Colour and/or members whose lived experience and/or expertise particularly qualify them to chair the Equity Committee.
  • The chair may be re-elected for one consecutive two-year term. 
  • Elections for chair shall normally be held by secret ballot, in the spring term of the year prior to the end of the existing chair’s term. 
  • Submissions for the position of chair will normally close on March 31. 
  • Candidate statements will be distributed to the committee electronically. For guidance on constructing candidate statements, past Chair statements are available to members. 
  • Voting will take place at least seven days after statements are distributed and the chair-elect will be announced by the last meeting of the spring term. 
  • The transition to chair, chair-elect, and past chair shall occur July 1. 
  • In the event that there is only one candidate, this candidate shall be ratified by a vote. 
  • If no candidate comes forward, the committee may elect to re-open nominations, or to appoint a chair-elect at a future date. 
  • Once a chair has been decided, per the FAUW Constitution, the Equity Committee recommends the chair appointment to the Board for final approval.

 Quorum and voting 

  • Quorum is 50% of members.
  • A motion may pass by majority vote or consensus. Whenever possible, decisions will be made by consensus. 
  • Ahead of each meeting, the Chair shall submit the agenda, clearly separating in two sections the motions that will be approved by consensus and the ones to be approved by majority vote, as well as the rationale for the chosen method.


  • Consensus vote is not to be interpreted as acquiescence, but as a complex, iterative discourse among EC members, respecting the right of any member to object to a motion, which in turn results in further discussion and rewording of the motion until no further objections are brought forward. A visual flow chart of this process is included for reference.

Majority vote

  • While EC meetings are carried in a collegial manner without strict adherence to Robert’s rules of order, in the event of procedural dispute, the latest edition of the text shall serve as reference (for example, if a member requests that voting be done by secret ballot).
  • In the event that consensus cannot be reached, decisions can be voted upon and a two-thirds majority will be needed. 

Remote (online) votes and/or dissent on consensus motions

  • For votes taking place over email or online, at least 50% of members must respond for the vote to be valid.
  • Members who are unable to attend a meeting and wish to express dissent on a consensus item, may do so by email at any point before the meeting, based on the agenda provided by the chair ahead of time. In such cases, the motion shall not be discussed until the following meeting, when the dissenting member has an opportunity to be present and engage in collegial conversation with peers.

Duties of the Officers 

  • Chair: The chair shall chair the meetings and represent the committee at FAUW, the University and in the broader community. The chair shall be charged with the general management and supervision of the affairs of the committee and its working groups. If not an elected director, the chair shall serve as an ex-officio, non-voting member of the FAUW Board. 
  • Chair-elect: The chair-elect shall assist the chair and fulfill the duties of the chair during their absence. The chair-elect will also accompany the chair to FAUW Board meetings as a non-voting guest as approved by the FAUW Board.
  • Past Chair: The past-chair shall fulfill the duties of the chair or chair-elect in their absence and serve to provide institutional knowledge. 
  • Equity Advocate and Facilitator: Drawing on complaint feminism, the Equity Committee recognizes that the manner in which disputes are resolved can reveal underlying power structures. As such, the committee strives to be a self-care community where members feel that their concerns will be attended to. Members are encouraged to engage in pod mapping to identify committee colleagues who they can go to if a harm has happened to them, if they caused harm, or if they have witnessed harm. Pod mapping consists in identifying individuals in one's community to turn to for mutual support and to help attend to specific needs. Once these individuals are identified, a plan for communicating and sharing skills/resources is put in place. The Equity Committee recognizes that members, however well-intended, may lack awareness of power dynamics or of manifestations of structural oppression. The Equity Advocate and Facilitator shall encourage and support committee members in upholding the ethics and standards of the Equity Committee. During committee meetings, the Equity Advocate and Facilitator shall act as a parliamentarian to ensure that equity processes agreed upon by the committee (e.g. formal votes) are followed. Should committee discussion or commentary veer from the values in the Code of Conduct, the Equity Advocate and Facilitator shall intervene and refocus the discussion. Outside of committee meetings, the Equity Advocate and Facilitator shall be available to members for conflict resolution as outlined in the “Removal of Committee Members” section and shall also be available to members wishing to learn more about equity issues with which they may not be familiar.  


  • Each spring, the committee shall propose a draft budget for approval by the FAUW Board. 
  • The draft budget will include funding for the chair and at least one or two members to attend the OCUFA and CAUT Equity Conferences. The draft budget will be approved by majority vote of the Equity Committee. 

 Removal of committee members 

  • Members of the Equity Committee recognize that serving on the committee is voluntary and that their contributions may vary based on demands on work and life. If an egregious or consistent violation against the ethics of the Equity Committee occurs, a committee member may be removed. Examples of such behaviour include but are not limited to: 
  • Creating undue resistance to productive discussion during meetings 
  • Refusing to abide by concerns for equity and social justice 
  • Refusing to complete committee assignments or completing them in a substandard manner 
  • Found in violation of Policy 33 on Ethical Behaviour 
  • Concerns about an Equity Committee member may be brought to the Equity Advocate and Facilitator. The Equity Advocate and Facilitator will confer with the involved parties and try to arrive at a solution that aligns with the principles of equity agreed upon by the committee members at the start of the year.  If there continues to be an impasse or if the committee member in question does not show significant improvement, the Equity Advocate and Facilitator may bring the issue to the wider committee for discussion and/or a vote. The remaining committee members may vote for removal through a majority vote of no confidence. Concerns about the Equity Advocate and Facilitator should be brought to the Chair/past chair/past mediator, the process followed will be the same as outlined above. 
  • Once removal of a committee member has been decided, per the FAUW Constitution, the Equity Committee recommends removal to the Board for final approval.


  • Amending this document requires a two-thirds majority vote of the committee. 
  • Notice of resolutions to amend this document shall be sent to the members of the committee at least seven calendar days prior to the vote. 

The consensus process

A flowchart showing the consensus process. Text version provided on page.

Adapted from: Philippe Urfalino, “The Rule of Non-Opposition: Opening up Decision-Making by Consensus,” The Journal of Political Philosophy 22, no. 3 (2014): 325, https://doi.org/10.1111/jopp.12037.

Alternate/text version of the consensus process

  1. The issue requiring a decision is presented.
  2. Discussion takes place.
  3. A proposal is made.
  4. Members are asked if there is opposition:
    1. If there is opposition, it circles back through discussion until the opposition is resolved and a new proposal is made.
    2. If there are several rounds of unresolved opposition, then the group is to choose a different decision-making method (e.g. majority vote) OR the issue remains unresolved/is deferred.
  5. Once there is a proposal with no opposition (or opposition is not voiced), then the proposal becomes a decision.