President’s update: July 2023

Here’s what UWSA staff and representatives have been working on this month:

Campus safety

It’s been quite a month since my last update. Obviously, a big thing on everyone’s mind is the violent attack on campus on June 28 and what it means for campus safety moving forward. I have talked with the University Safety Office about the systems in place for situations like this, and here’s what I know so far:

While the WatSafe app was tested earlier that day and obviously works, the system that should have led to a notification did not function correctly and is being reviewed and improved by the Safety Office, Special Constable Services, and IST.

Some higher risk areas on campus (e.g., Health Services, the Registrar’s Office) have panic buttons, but these don't exist everywhere on campus. I encourage you to make sure you’re aware of any panic buttons in your area and how to use them.

Some staff members have been approached by other members of the university and tasked with putting together safety plans for their units. Although this may fall into some job descriptions, putting the onus on staff is not the appropriate path forward. If you need support or someone to talk to, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. The University will be updating its emergency response protocols, and we will provide feedback wherever possible on behalf of staff in the coming months. You can also reach out to the staff representatives on the Joint Health and Safety Committees as this work is being done. If have expertise in particular health and safety areas, please feel free to contact me.

The University has announced a community forum coming up at 9:30 a.m. on July 17 for staff and faculty. I encourage you to attend, either in person or online, and to follow President Goel’s updates on this matter. The Faculty Association has released a list of questions about what went wrong and what the University will do to protect faculty, staff, and student safety moving forward. I will be joining FAUW President David Porreca in asking these questions of the administration.

Please see our previous statement about this incident for links to resources you can access for support, and let us know if you’re not able to get the support you need.

Progress on the Bill 124 salary settlement adjustment

The vice president, administration and finance brought the University’s latest proposal to PACSC (Provost's Advisory Committee on Staff Compensation) for consideration. Unfortunately, we were not able to settle on the proposal and we are still negotiating to better align with the settlement that faculty received. The negotiations began at the beginning of May and we have been making gains for staff so far, but we are still trying to attain equity.

Who runs the UWSA? It could be you!

The work of the UWSA is done by a whole lot of people, from volunteer directors and committee members to permanent staff and the president. And all of them ultimately report to members, through our annual elections and general meetings.

If you are interested in becoming more involved in your Staff Association, now is the time to start considering your next steps. Elections for UWSA president-elect and directors take place each October. We’ll have information sessions about both roles in September before nominations are due, but you can start learning about what’s involved now. There are also calls for committee members throughout the year.

The UWSA depends on members like you taking a turn at helping to run things. If you’re curious, reach out to, or to me at

Speaking of volunteers…

We recently celebrated many of our board and committee members at our annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon—thank you to everyone who made it out, and an extra thank-you to those of you who couldn’t make it and didn’t get the free lunch! I really enjoyed getting to know more of you and cannot thank you enough for all the work you do for staff across our campuses.

We’ve also welcomed the following new committee members and representatives in the last month:

Recently funded programs for staff

The Staff Excellence Fund is part of the total compensation package for staff and allocates $135,000 each year to staff-led initiatives in the areas of employee engagement, leadership development, and health at work. You can submit an SEF application at any time. Here are four initiatives that have been funded or renewed recently:

Workplace yoga

The physical strain of sustained static positioning and the emotional strain of managing competing work demands can put staff at risk for developing emotional and/or physical concerns. Workplace yoga has been shown to improve the physical and emotional health of staff while improving productivity and job satisfaction. The Workplace Yoga Program offers weekly classes at lunchtime on Wednesdays, both in person and livestreamed on Teams. Join the Workplace Yoga team or contact to sign up, watch the livestreams, or get more information.

Board Foundations training

UW Staff are skilled members of the Waterloo Region community, but many have never served on a not-for-profit board, and don’t know where to start. This grant will fund training to help UW staff build the knowledge, skills, and confidence to take on leadership roles, support inclusive organizational cultures, and make a positive impact within our community. This will also serve to strengthen the reputation of the University within our local communities. Several sessions will be offered, with space for 150 staff members! Visit the UW Staff Board Foundations website for details and to register for a session.

This is the second round of funding for this training; it has been slightly updated to incorporate an anti-oppressive lens, so repeaters won't be declined, but those who missed it last time are especially encouraged to sign up!

Ways to Play: Fitness and wellness programming

Warrior Recreation’s mission is to support the wellbeing of our entire campus community by providing a of variety of opportunities to be active, play, and connect. Since fall 2022, SEF funding has allowed Warrior Recreation to offer daily fitness opportunities to staff, including staff workouts, rock climbing, archery, table tennis, yoga, nidra meditation, kickboxing, skating, and more. Sign up for a free SEF Staff Membership and register for classes on the Ways to Play for Staff webpage.

Pilates Party

The Pilates Party program provides on-site, low-cost exercise designed to take a preventive approach to staff health and well-being. Among many benefits of Pilates are enhanced flexibility, core, and postural alignment. In addition to helping prevent workplace injury, this Pilates program can help improve staff productivity by reducing stress and enhancing energy and focus. The class will run Thursdays from 12:05 p.m. to 12:55 p.m. in the PAC, starting in August. The SEF has been funding this program since 2020. Contact Suling Duong at if you’d like to be added to the Teams chat for session details and registrations.

Have a great summer!

I know things never really stop at Waterloo, but I hope you all get at least a couple of slower weeks between now and September. I wish you all good weather and happy vacations!