President's update - January 2020

As we welcome in 2020, I can look back at my first two months as President of the UWSA.

First of all, it is truly an honour to serve in this position.  We have a terrific board of dedicated UW staff members, plus our own two very dedicated UWSA staff - Gail Spencer and Cathy Bolger.  I am so grateful for this great group of people to work with, on behalf of our members.

Since my last update, I have attended a number of training sessions and workshops.  I want to ensure that I have the necessary skills to address the variety of issues that can arise.  The first one was CMHR104: Workplace Harassment Prevention Workshop through the Office of Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion.  I also participated in the sessions on "Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence" (now available online) and "Verbal De-Escalation and Crisis Intervention: An Interactive Workshop". 

A group of us from the Board - myself, Kathy Becker (President-Elect), Dave McDougall (Director), and Gail Spencer, the UWSA Executive Manager, attended the Capacity Canada Board Governance Bootcamp.  This is an excellent session that helps us understand our Director responsibilities in a Non-Profit Organization (the UWSA), governing ourselves, navigating fiduciary responsibilities, and even the latest best practices on taking minutes and running meetings!

Lawrence, Kathy, Dave and Gail at the Capacity Canada Governance Bootcamp

In November, we were invited to provide one of our "Road Shows" for the Co-operative & Experiential Education staff over in EC1 and I gave our presentation and took questions from the staff there.  One area of interest for them is our new Transportation and Commuting Working Group.  We talked about the issue of staff who need to commute from their designated parking area (in this case, Lot Q) to another area on campus (eg: the Tatham Centre) which they need to do regularly.  This is a topic we will be exploring in the Working Group.

I attended the 2019 Eco Summit in Fed Hall on November 20th.  There were several excellent speakers highlighting the sustainability initiatives going on on-campus.  The 2019 Environmental Sustainability Report was released by Mat Thijssen, Sustainability Manager.  Giovanna Zinken, Plant Operations, talked about some of their initiatives including the Shift-Zero campaign to reduce UW's waste to near zero by 2035!
Shift Zero

Also in November, I attended the President's Community Breakfast to give out the Community Impact awards for which I had the pleasure of being a jury member.  Our Community Leader awards went to UWSA member Alison Boyd and Engineering student Mariko Shimoda - both very deserving!  The Y and Waterloo Public Library and the Waterloo Ravens were recognized as University Champions.

Alison Boyd - Community Leader Award

I have had one-on-one meetings with senior University administration, including Vice-President Academic & Provost Dr. James Rush and Associate Provost, Human Resources Marilyn Thompson.  Both meetings were very productive and collegial.  I look forward to working with our University Administration to further the goals and aims of UW staff.  We agreed to continue to meet monthly throughout my tenure as President.

In late November we held our annual Craft Sale with 22 staff and retiree artisans.  The sale raised about $3,000 that will be donated to 2 student awards. 

Craft Sale items

The following Sunday was our annual Winterfest.  Lots of fun for kids and adults alike!  I did my annual tradition of making balloon animals and other creations:

Lawrence with a happy customer!

Meanwhile, Santa gave out presents:

Santa giving out presents

It's not all fun and games, though.  Gail and I, plus our past-presidents (Bill, Michael and Jackie) have been busy with advocacy cases helping staff with issues including hiring concerns, holiday pay, tuition benefits, pension issues, Policy 33 assistance, handling secondments and many others.

On December 6th I attended the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women event held in Engineering 7.  It was a very moving experience, particularly with the 14 female Engineering students representing those lives lost on that tragic day 30 years ago.

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

Related to that, our own Cathy Bolger and Agata Antkiewicz organized an event for the 16 Days of Activism with a screening of "Gender Matters: A virtual discussion on violence against women"

 A virtual discussion on violence against women

We've also been very busy with policy issues especially the newly proposed Policy 33.  There is a lot of community input that needs to be considered which speaks to excellent engagement, but which will require some concerted effort to process in a meaningful way.  We have setup a subgroup to go through all of those comments and propose refinements to the proposed policy.

One last fun thing - Jordan Hale and Carmen Peters from the library put together the Who's Your Buddy 2020 calendar of loveable cat pictures from library staff.  I got my copy hanging up in my office!

Who's a good buddy? January 2020

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday break and have a happy and healthy 2020!

Lawrence Folland
President, UWSA

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