Rebecca’s Experience

Posted March 9th, 2015 By OCUFA

I’ve worked as a contract faculty member for four years. I currently teach a variety of film and video production courses at institutions in the GTA. I love my job because I love to help young people learn how to tell their own stories using film and video. I’ll never forget when, through hard work and encouragement, one of my students suffering with anxiety turned her C into B+ so that she could graduate with honours. I’m extremely proud of the time I overheard one of my students tell another student that she learned more in one of my classes than she did in whole semesters of other courses.

If contract professors became full-time faculty, we could offer so much more to universities, students and Canadian research. As a full-time faculty member, I would have more time to grade, prepare lessons and respond to students questions and concerns. It would also mean I could spend more time on my own creative practice making me a more accomplished artist that then has more to offer the students. I could also purchase a car turning my now 8 hours of commuting time each week into two and a half. On a more personal level, I would have the opportunity to nurture my relationships with friends and family without feeling under constant pressure to be searching for my next contract.

Each week, I travel 1400 kms to get to work and do 20-40 hours of additional unpaid work to support my students. In return, I have some medical and retirement benefits. This is on top of $30,001-$40,000 in student debt I owe after studying at York University to become an expert in Filmmaking. My current income is fluctuates between the poverty line to what is considered low income in the city of Toronto. I currently have no job security, which makes it hard to plan for the future, take any kind of vacation, have a family, maintain savings and sustain a healthy stress level.

Overall, I want to tell you that

Due to the amount of stress I find myself under because of my fluctuating income levels and lack of job security, I will likely find a new career path outside of academia if I cannot find a full-time position in the next five years. I love teaching and believe I am good at it, but I also want a family and my stress levels impact my health considerably. This lifestyle is not sustainable.

This flawed system also impacts the level of attention I can pay to my students, which is heart breaking. Because I am a young Professor, my students feel very comfortable talking with me about their problems, challenges and insecurities during a crucial time in their development into adulthood. However, my time is monopolized by unpaid lesson prep, grading and commuting on public transport to my various teaching assignments all over the Greater Toronto Area. I am constantly under pressure to find and secure my next teaching gig. The sad reality is that I do not have enough hours or emotional energy to support these students to the best of my abilities.

Everything I have described above would change if I had a full-time position or knew that the hard work I am putting in now would lead to one. In the current climate one could spend their entire career in this state of uncertainty. This situation not only impacts the quality of life for Professors, but also impacts their students’ learning experience significantly. If we feel that a post secondary education is of value to our young people, then we need to support ALL of the individuals that work tirelessly to make it possible rather than just a select few.

Deidre Rose’s Story

Posted March 9th, 2015 By OCUFA

 

I’ve worked as a contract faculty member for 22 years. I currently teach 4 courses this semester. I love my job because motivating students, watching students learn to see the world differently, and lots more. I’ll never forget a theatre troupe visited from Haiti and taught the class Haitian history and dance. I’m extremely proud of the time published in a very prestigious international journal.

If contract professors became full-time faculty, we could offer so much more to universities, students and Canadian research. As a full-time faculty member, I would continue to teach, motivate and inspire. It would also mean security and opportunities for research funding. On a more personal level, I would have the opportunity to grow through research and conferences.

Each week, I travel .5 kms to get to work and do untold hours of additional unpaid work to support my students. In return, I have some limited benefits. This is on top of <$10,000 in student debt I owe after studying at University of Toronto to become an expert in Social Anthropology. My current income is very good thanks to my collective agreement. I currently have limited job security, which makes it hard to plan for the future.

Overall, I want to tell you that I love my job, wish I had better job security, benefits, and the ability to apply for research grants. I wish I were invited to contribute to department committees. Summer is especially difficult as it has been a couple of years since I taught a summer course (very few available) and am usually told that I am overqualified for other types of work.

Diana Buglea’s Experience

Posted March 9th, 2015 By OCUFA

French, Huron University College

My proudest teaching moment:

When current students are eager to inquire about which courses I will be teaching next and are excited to enroll in them.

My greatest research accomplishment:

Sharing my research interest with the francophone community at large, even beyond the academic setting.

How I use my knowledge, research skills and teaching ability to improve my community:

With new technologies being part of every aspect of our lives, I constantly remind myself and others what we gain and lose when using them.

The challenges I face in my work:

One of the challenges is helping students who bring their online world and persona to the classroom achieve their goals.

Jeff Botham’s Story

Posted March 7th, 2015 By OCUFA

Management and Financial Accounting, Organizational Consulting, Waterloo and Toronto Campus of Wilfrid Laurier

My proudest teaching moment:

Towards the end of one particular term, students came to me and said “by sharing your work experiences, we really UNDERSTAND the concepts we were reading about in the text. We were having difficulty with concepts but could relate back to the great examples you gave in class”

How do you use your knowledge, research skills, and teaching ability to improve your community?

I reach out to the community and volunteer for a number of local events. I endorse the university’s involvement of students in the community and proud that we are building tomorrows leaders with this sense of community.

The challenges I face in my work:

The biggest challenge is uncertainty. Despite being a professional with 25 years of experience I often tell colleagues that I have no idea whether I am teaching 3,2,1, or NO courses in the upcoming term. This is unacceptable.

It is unfair to the students and to contract staff that these decisions cannot be made at least one year in advance.!

As it stands today – I was offered courses to teach in just a little over two months. This is not enough time to adequately prepare for two new course and to refresh curriculum on a third. If the University could give certainty on contracts one year out, we would be able to better prepare and the students (who after all are paying a large portion) would receive better value.

Michelle Szabo’s Story

Posted March 6th, 2015 By OCUFA

University of Toronto

I’ve worked as a contract faculty member for years. I currently teach at the University of Toronto. I love my job because sharing ideas with students in creative ways is so rewarding. I’ll never forget when I ran into a former student who had become a teacher and she said she used many of my classroom techniques.

If contract professors became full-time faculty, we could offer so much more to universities, students and Canadian research. As a full-time faculty member, I would be able to devote more of my time to meeting with students and making my classes as engaging as possible.  I will have my own research project and apply for funding with interesting ideas and able. It would also mean that the university recognized and valued high-quality teaching as well as research accomplishments. On a more personal level, I would have the opportunity to finally settle in the city that I love.

Overall, I want to tell you that it’s extremely sad to know that the excellent feedback I receive from my students about my teaching, and the time and energy I devote to it, doesn’t seem to have any impact on my job security.

Brian Thorn’s Experience

Posted March 5th, 2015 By OCUFA

English/History, Nipissing University

My proudest teaching moment:

In 2013, a groups of students bought small gifts for me at the end of the teaching year.

Your greatest research accomplishment:

Having a monograph, Visions of the New World Order: Left and Right-Wing Women in Post-World War II Western Canada, accepted for publication.

How you use your knowledge, research skills and teaching ability to improve your community:

Helping to organize an annual undergraduate research conference, participating in events for the University community, assisting students with research projects In 2013, a groups of students bought small gifts for me at the end of the teaching year. , participating in student-run extracurricular activities.

The challenges I face in my work:

I commute to Nipissing/North Bay weekly from Peterborough, ON, where my family lives. I also teach as a Sessional Instructor in the History Department at Trent University – Oshawa.

Steven Moore’s Story

Posted March 5th, 2015 By OCUFA

Environmental Studies, Queen’s University

I’ve worked as a contract faculty member for 10 years. I currently teach Topics in Sustainability, Environmental Policy, Ecological Economics. I love my job because there is nothing better than talking to young people about ideas and actions. I’ll never forget having my class attended the climate march in NYC. I’m extremely proud of the time was selected as Student Choice Professor of The Year.

If contract professors became full-time faculty, we could offer so much more to universities, students and Canadian research. As a full-time faculty member, I would be able to have much more contact with students. It would also mean a more secure income. On a more personal level, I would have the opportunity to do more of what I love.

Each week, I travel 70 kms to get to work and do hours of additional unpaid work to support my students. In return, I have no benefits. This is on top of <$10,000 in student debt I owe after studying at York University to become an expert in environmental studies.

Overall, I want to tell you that here is some of the extra, unpaid work I did in the last year.
Member, Queen’s Carbon Action Plan Advisory Committee
• Member, Queen’s Carbon Action Plan Curriculum and Research Committee
• Member, Queen’s Sustainability Advisory Committee
• Faculty Advisor, Queen’s Water Access Group
• Coach, TEAM ENG 400
• Faculty Advisor. Queen’s Solar Design Team, 2014 US Solar Decathlon
• Member, Centre for Responsible Leadership Steering Committee
• Keynote Panel Moderator, CEEC, March
• Advising Faculty Member, AMS Sustainability Action Fund
• Guest Judge and Lecturer, COMM 357, Keith Rogers Mar
• Prof Talk, Arts and Science 2014 Orientation Sep
• Presenter and Judge Queen’s Global Innovation Conference Nov
• Judge, Queen’s Entrepreneur’s Competition Nov

Jeff Wilson’s Experience

Posted March 5th, 2015 By OCUFA

Geography, Nipissing University

I’ve worked as a contract faculty member for 2 years. I currently teach Topics in GIS Application, Introduction to Human Geography Labs, Introduction to Physical Geography Labs. I love my job because I get to share my own experiences and knowledge with students to help prepare them for the next steps in life. I’ll never forget when one of my students randomly sent me a video about great teachers, and said that video reminded her of me. I’m extremely proud of the time I published a paper from my Masters thesis.

If contract professors became full-time faculty, we could offer so much more to universities, students and Canadian research. As a full-time faculty member, I would be able to build and develop my courses over time to make them that much better. It would also mean less time spent worrying about job security, and more time spent improving my abilities as an educator. On a more personal level, I would have the opportunity to live free of worry.

Each week, I travel 15 kms to get to work and do numerous hours of additional unpaid work to support my students. In return, I have some dental and medical benefits. This is on top of <$10,000 in student debt I owe after studying at Nipissing University to become an expert in Geography, Environmental Science, GIS and Remote Sensing. My current income is sufficient in comparison to some, but not nearly as much as others who do similar work. I currently have limited job security, which makes it hard to commit fully to my career, knowing that no one has committed fully to me.

Overall, I want to tell you that contract faculty accomplish as much in a day and make as much of a difference in the lives of students as anyone. The least we deserve is peace of mind.

Jennifer Linton’s Story

Posted March 4th, 2015 By OCUFA

Art and Design, Sheridan College

I’ve worked as a contract faculty member for 4.5 years. I currently teach studio-based art and design courses. I love my job because I love to see the students start to make technical leaps in their abilities. I’ll never forget when I ran across a former student at an art gallery, and they told me that mine had been their most transformative class.

If contract professors became full-time faculty, we could offer so much more to universities, students and Canadian research. As a full-time faculty member, I would be much more available to the students on a year-round basis, rather than only being at the school sporadically. It would also mean I would have a sense commitment on the part of the school that they appreciated and supported what I did there.

Each week, I travel 44 kms to get to work and do 10 hours of additional unpaid work to support my students. In return, I have no benefits. This is on top of <$10,000 in student debt I owe. My income is well below what one needs to support a family. I currently have zero job security, which makes it hard to plan towards the future.

Lindsey McMaster’s Experience

Posted March 4th, 2015 By OCUFA

Academic Writing, Nipissing University

My proudest teaching moment:

I love it when students discover that writing essays does not have to be a painful slog through a host of rules and requirements, but can actually be a place to express themselves individually, intellectually, and even creatively.

My greatest research accomplishment:

The publication of my first book, about wage-earning women in Western Canada, which reviewers found to be “engaging, interesting, and a must-read for gender, history, and literary scholars.”

What are the challenges you face in your work? 

I once spent months preparing a SSHRC grant application, only to be told by the university (at the last moment) that no applications by contract academic staff would be forwarded for consideration. I’ve since presented the research at conferences and in a published article, but never as the book-length work I had envisioned.

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