MUNFA ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE
TERMS OF REFERENCE
(September 10, 1980 and as amended at MUNFA Annual General Meetings, April 7, 1983;
October 29, 1986; April 21, 1992; October 22, 1996; October 20, 1998 and April 17, 2002.)
Academic Freedom includes the right within the University to decide who shall teach, who
shall be taught, and what shall be studied, taught or published, without deference to
prescribed doctrine. It is involved in the appointment of faculty members, Laboratory
Instructors, and Professional Librarians, their promotion, the grant of tenure or confirmation
of appointment, and questions of non-renewal or dismissal, since such decisions must be
made without reference to race, religion, sex or politics. Academic Freedom also involves
the right to criticise the University, and to pursue the settlement of grievances within the
University which frustrate concentration on and the fulfilment of scholarly duties and
interests. It also includes the right to make controversial statements about the community
at large or any aspect of it without fear of recrimination or intimidation from the University
A faculty member, Laboratory Instructor, or Professional Librarian has the right to expect
that the association of which he/she is a member will offer skilled advice and, if necessary,
direct assistance in defence of academic freedom and the redress of grievances. All members
should expect the association to maintain constant vigilance with respect to such matters, and
report to its members at regular intervals.
To serve these needs, MUNFA has established an Academic Freedom and Grievance
The Committee shall consist of:
- Eight persons from the St. John's campus, one of whom shall be a member of the
MUNFA Executive. Corner Brook faculty shall have a local Academic Freedom and
Grievance Committee. The Corner Brook and St. John's Committees shall keep in
close touch with one another by means of exchanging their minutes. All committee
members must be full-time faculty members, Laboratory Instructors or Professional
Librarians confirmed in their appointment, or be Retired Members of MUNFA who
have previously held such a position in the University.
- The Committee members shall be appointed for staggered three year terms by the
Executive, with the exception of the Executive representative, who shall serve for
one year. Appointments to the Committee shall be made each September.
- The Executive will actively solicit nominations to the Committee, and will take into
consideration broad representation from across the University.
- The Committee shall select its own chairperson, subject to confirmation by the
Executive, by February 15th of the previous academic year.
- A member of the Committee shall step down if a majority of the Committee is so
agreed and the Executive confirms the recommendation of the Committee.
- The Committee may not be replaced or discontinued by the Executive without the
approval of the General Meeting.
- ACADEMIC FREEDOM FUNCTION
- The function of the Committee shall be to monitor the state of academic freedom
within the University, and to promote among Faculty Members, Laboratory
Instructors, and Professional Librarians awareness of the meaning and importance of
- The Committee may investigate questions of academic freedom on its own initiative,
or on referral from the Executive, or at the request of MUNFA members. The
Committee may co-opt additional members with the approval of the Executive in
order to conduct such investigations.
- Any such investigation under ii) should be reported to the Association.
- GRIEVANCE FUNCTION
- The function of this Committee shall be to advise and assist members of the
bargaining unit represented by MUNFA and other members of MUNFA who believe
their rights have been, or are in danger of being violated.
- The Committee may, on its own initiative, approach a MUNFA member whose rights
appear to have been or are in danger of being violated. However, before formally
adopting a case, or acting on behalf of a member, the Committee must receive written
instructions from the member concerned.
- Unless a grievor waives in writing his/her right to confidentiality, the Committee
shall handle all cases on a confidential basis.
- All documents of a private and personal nature collected by the Committee during
the course of its activities in respect to a case shall be retained by MUNFA.
- A grievor who is dissatisfied with the Committee's handling of the case retains the
right to withdraw it from the Committee and request the Executive of the Association
to assume responsibility. The Executive may decide not to assume responsibility.
- The Executive shall not become involved in a case unless asked to do so by the
grievor or the Committee.
- A MUNFA member retains the right to appeal directly to the Academic Freedom and
Tenure Committee of the CAUT.
- The Committee shall discharge its functions as defined under C and D respectively.
- The Committee shall keep minutes of its meetings. Minutes shall report business of
the Committee including all telephone conversations with grievors. Each set of
minutes shall have appended a list of:
- items being sent for legal opinion;
- items awaiting replies within defined time-limits; and
- items for upcoming business including arbitrations. Case -updates and
arbitration-updates shall also be made every two weeks and be circulated to
the Committee as part of the minutes.
- The Committee shall report to the membership in writing each September, and the
report shall be on the agenda of the October General Meeting. This requirement does
not preclude reports at other times if these are thought necessary either by the
Committee or the Executive. Committee reports will be provided by the Executive
before circulation to the membership.
- It shall be the responsibility of the Committee, with the necessary secretarial support,
to build a database which records such information as the subject of each grievance,
relevant clauses of the Collective Agreement, its resolution, its file number, and the
places in the minutes where it is mentioned.
- Original or photocopied documentation submitted by a grievor shall be maintained
in individual case files belonging to MUNFA. Filing of each document shall be done
as soon as possible after each is received.
- Copies of case-updates mentioned in Clause E.(ii) above and the minutes, and policy
recommendations arising under Clause C. below shall be sent to the Executive as
completed. Also, the member of the Executive appointed according to Clause B. (i)
above shall act as the liaison person with the Executive.
- The Committee shall write its reports under E(iii) above with due regard for
confidentiality of the grievor where this is warranted.
- Both the minutes and individual case files (as specified in Clause D(v) above) shall
be maintained on a confidential basis by the MUNFA Office. These may be
consulted by the Executive on a need to know basis.
- A member of the Committee shall not normally act as a case officer for grievances
arising within his/her faculty or school. He/she shall not participate in any way as a
committee member in cases in which he/she is deemed by the Committee to have a
personal conflict of interest.
- While the AF&G Committee will make its best efforts to offer continuity, it cannot
guarantee that the same case officers will serve throughout the process of a grievance.
- In exceptional circumstances, case officers meeting the provisos contained in sections
B (i) and E (ix) may be recruited from outside the committee.
- On the termination of a committee member's appointment, by mutual agreement (s)he
may be permitted to continue to act as case officer for those cases for which (s)he has
responsibility. If the appointments of both case officers terminate at the same time,
but they agree to continue to handle a grievance, a third case officer shall be
appointed from the committee to act as liaison.
- If judged necessary by the MUNFA Executive and on the advice of the AF&G
Committee, that MUNFA purchase up to three course remissions in addition to that
customarily received by the Chair under Clause 1.16, to be allocated as the
Committee sees fit.
- COMMITTEE STATUS
- The Committee is free to approach any level of the administration or other parties in
order to facilitate resolution of a case, or the investigation of matter pertaining to
- The Committee shall have independent access to the MUNFA lawyer and to the
- Notwithstanding the above, all expenditures must be approved by the Executive. The
Committee may not make any commitment to a grievor for financial aid.
- In grievances with ramifications for association policy or of general concern to the
faculty, interpretations of policy made by the Academic Freedom and Grievance
Committees at the St. John's and Corner Brook campuses to the administration must
be referred to the Executive for prior approval.
- Normally the MUNFA Executive will not act on questions of academic freedom or
individual grievance without the advice of the Academic Freedom and Grievance
Committee. When it is obliged to do so because of urgent circumstances, it will
inform the Academic Freedom and Grievance Committee as soon as possible. The
exception to this is when a grievor specifically asks the Executive to handle his/her
- When the Academic Freedom and Grievance Committee is handling a case in
confidence, normal intervention by the Executive (e.g., to approve the expenditure
of funds or to support a recommendation to the CAUT) will generally be in a manner
such that the Executive will also handle the case in confidence.
- Every three years the Executive shall appoint an Evaluation Committee to conduct
a major review of the Committee's activities.
- The Evaluation Committee shall consist of not less than three MUNFA members
who have had no connection with the Academic Freedom and Grievance Committee
during the previous five years.
- The report of the Evaluation Committee shall be circulated to the membership and
discussed at a General Meeting.