Is Thompson Rivers University's faculty taking abnormally high amounts of sick leave? And if so, is it related to stress in the workplace?
The university's faculty association (TRUFA) and its administration are looking into these questions using results of a recently completed survey and statistical data.
But with each side reportedly dragging its feet over sharing their piece of the puzzle, confusion reigns.
The university's Wellness Centre recently co-ordinated a survey about workplace stress.
TRUFA president Jason Brown said the Wellness Centre informed him that the rates of short-term sick leave are possibly among the highest of all Canadian universities.
Brown suggests the leaves may be linked to stress among faculty in relation to changes in the school's accreditation process.
"They were going through a massive change from college to university and it appears that the current administration wants the university to head in a certain direction," he said. "In order to get where they want us to go, the type of administrative practices in place right is now causing some stress for faculty."
He said issues of academic freedom and tenure are being discussed, but wouldn't go into detail.
The university is hosting Jim Turk on Oct. 18 who will deliver a speech on those topics. Turk is the author of The Corporate Campus: Commercialization and the Dangers to Canada's Colleges and Universities.
Meanwhile, the Wellness Centre's survey results aren't available to the public since they are still under review, said Chelsea Corsi, Wellness Centre co-ordinator.
"A subcommittee with myself, the faculty association representative, a representative from the school of business, social work and I think nursing and also one of our recently retired counsellors . . . is going to come back and we'll be reviewing the results and looking at what they mean and any recommendations we can make to the executive," she said.
She said statistical data would have to be provided by the university's human resources department.
TRUFA also wants sick leave data from human resources, but that hasn't yet been provided, according to Brown.
And the results of the Wellness Centre survey have not yet been provided to administration, said TRU spokesperson Christopher Seguin.
"We look forward to reviewing a survey and actioning any valid concerns," he said.
Seguin said he's reviewed the HR data, and although short-term leave is higher than the insurer's average, there are very few other universities on the company's client list, so a cross-comparison is difficult.
And there's no evidence pointing to stress as a factor since the insurer doesn't break down the leave to show whether mental health plays a role, said Seguin.
University counselling data, however, show the numbers of family and general mental health issues faced by university employees far exceed workplace environment issues.
Seguin added that TRU tries to address such issues with proactive initiatives, like forums involving human resources, the provost's office, deans and TRUFA,
"Historically we have been very successful in resolving the majority of these issues," he said.