WLUFA is appalled with OCAD University’s recent decision to lay off four senior academic librarians and wholly eliminate a total of six positions as part of a restructuring process for the library. WLUFA is also deeply concerned that OCAD U would justify their decisions and align these cuts with a “decolonization approach,” which adds to the offensiveness of their actions. It is reprehensible that the University would use ‘decolonization’ in such a reductive and overly simplistic way to justify their approach to restructuring the OCAD library.
Without meaningful consultations with Library staff, the community they serve, and the union representing these workers, OPSEU Local 576, the restructuring process will immediately face significant challenges in understanding the demands and needs of the Library. It shows a profound disregard for the University’s contractually mandated responsibilities articulated in collective agreements, for principles of collegial governance, and for meaningful consultations with diverse staff that make up the University community. It demonstrates an alarming lack of awareness on their part to refer to decolonization in an attempt to create a smokescreen around a restructuring process that failed to properly consult and engage in a meaningful participatory approach to the restructuring process with the academic community, especially in view of the fact that there is a long history in the colonial context of not including and consulting Indigenous Nations.
Librarians are an essential part of a students’ learning experience. Making such decisions without valuing the specialized knowledge and expertise of librarians cannot lead to a positive move forward.
We emphatically echo the call from the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) that OCAD University demonstrate their support for the principles of collegial decision-making and mutual respect by taking the following actions:
- cease all plans to restructure and instead immediately reinstate the four academic librarians until there has been a thorough review of best practices and community needs;
- involve OCADU librarians, faculty and students in any major library reorganization; and
invest in OCADU’s library and resources.
We urge you to reconsider the layoffs and eliminations of positions affecting OCAD librarians, and focus on building a University that represents and embodies the vision of your entire community.
The WLUFA Executive Committee
The statement is available in PDF form as a letter to OCAD President Ana Serrano below:
OPSEU Local 576’s Statement to the OCAD U Board of Governors