Jennifer Long’s Story
Anthropology, Wilfrid Laurier University
I’ve worked as a contract faculty member for 3 years. I currently teach Applied Anthropology, Cultures of Business and Work, and the Anthropology of Sport. I love my job because I get to teach the next generation about contemporary social issues and the tools that they have to create meaningful change. I’ll never forget when the students of my applied anthropology class worked together – using the tools they’d learned in class – to advocate for change on campus. I’m extremely proud of the time I was able to make ‘the university experience’ more welcoming for international students through my research on tolerance of cultural diversity on campus and in the community.
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 the ability to provide sustainable education and mentoring which I am not currently able to do because of the instability of my employment. It would also mean that I could concentrate on publishing the findings of my research to help positively influence the prestige of my department and showcase the wide applicability of anthropological work. On a more personal level, I would have the opportunity to continue teaching and informing the next generation instead of taking my talents to the private sector.
Each week, I travel 192 kms to get to work and do 36 hours of additional unpaid work to support my students. In return, I have no benefits. This is on top of >$40,000 in student debt I owe after studying at the Western University to become an expert in Anthropology. My current income is paltry and insecure. I currently have no job security, which makes it hard to plan for the month let alone any significant amount of time in the future.
Overall, I want to tell you that being a contract faculty member is a position with very little power. We teach the majority of undergraduates for the least amount of pay. We need full time faculty to work with us in order to achieve an equitable employment environment; a scenario that will prove beneficial for all students and instructors at post-secondary institutions. I provide my students with the transferable skill set they need to get hired in today’s job economy. This approach to education however does not come at the expense of knowledge or creative social critique.