Marnina Norys’s Story
Social and Political Thought, York University
I’ve worked as a contract faculty member for 14 years. I currently teach Modes of Reasoning: Techniques of Persusasion. I love my job because I delight in seeing students start to think for themselves, question dogma, make interesting connections and arrive at interesting conclusions. I’ll never forget when on the last day of class, my students refused to leave asking me to tell what university life was going to be like for them. I’m extremely proud of the I time engineered an activity that got students discussing, laughing, and best of all, seriously reflecting on the nuances of an ancient Greek tragedy many saw as boring coming into to activity.
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 design course that improve upon my lessons and past mistakes because I would know what I’m teaching one year to the next. I could also serve on departmental committees and do university service and be a more stable mentor for students because I know I will be around next year when they need help or further guidance. It would also mean I could start to making a serious dent in my student loans and maybe even start to think about buying instead of renting a home. On a more personal level, I would have the opportunity to seriously undertake my own research projects in the summer, without the haunting spectre of unemployment frightening me and distracting me.
Each week, I travel/commute for 12 hours across 24 kms to get to work and do at least 10 hours of additional unpaid work to support my students. In return, I have extended health benefits and dental. But these may evaporate if my contract is not renewed. This is on top of >$40,000 in student debt I owe after studying at the York University to become an expert in Social and Political thought. My current income is too insecure to describe. I started this year making $1,700/month, but am making more now. But I never know from year-to-year how much I will make. I currently have zero job security, which makes it hard to feel that my future is at all hopeful.
Overall, I want to tell you that I exist in a grievance laden environment so that in the summer, even if I’ve only landed a measly $5,000/year TAship, there is a good chance that a high seniority faculty member will swoop down, and eradicate my access to healthcare benefits in the process, and take this pittance because she also lost her work. In that back of the mind I feel that the enormous amount of time and dedication I invest in course design will be lost, because I have no idea if I will ever get the chance to teach that course again. Buying a home is beyond the realm of imagination for me in spite of being 46 years old with a PhD. In spite of all this, there is no job I’d rather do than to teach your young people. They, and their ideas, their intellect, invigorates me. I feel honoured to have the ability to partake in the further refinement of the cognitive faculties so that they might day become thoughtful, insightful, imaginative, critical and contributing citizens to whatever society they land in.