Laura Rossi’s Experience
Biology, Nipissing University
I’ve worked as a contract faculty member for 3 years. I currently teach microbiology, immunology, molecular biology techniques, and various biology labs in the area of cell and molecular science. I love my job because I’m able to use and apply my own education each and every day, and in doing so, spread my own enthusiasm for hands-on science to others. I’ll never forget when I was on the other side of the classroom for the first time. It was a very humbling experience. I’m extremely proud of the time I saw students I had taught in their first year getting ready to tackle an honours thesis, and hearing them talk about furthering their education in a research area I had introduced them to in one of my classes.
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 work on developing and troubleshooting new lab material for the consecutive year. It would also mean not having to work twice as hard or at more than one job to ensure my living costs could be covered. On a more personal level, I would have the opportunity to finally call this city my new home, and stop searching for other work just in case things don’t pan out.
Each week, I travel less than 5 kms to get to work and do 20 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. I currently have questionable job security, which makes it hard to focus my efforts to improving my current labs/courses, rather than wondering whether or not I will have a job this time next year.
Overall, I want to tell you that the dream of working in academia is no longer a sustainable career unless you can stand to sacrifice the basic rights and privileges granted to your fellow colleagues, and live with that double standard each day.