Nadine Robinson’s Story
I’ve worked as a contract faculty member for 8 years. I currently teach Accounting, Marketing, Statistics, and Economics. I love my job because it is a gift to be able to watch the light bulb turn on over someone’s head. What could be better than helping to inspire our youth? I’ll never forget when my students sent a petition to the President asking for me to be hired full-time because they felt that I was an excellent instructor. I’m extremely proud of the time I “faced off” with my students in an Internet Marketing project that ended up being featured in the media.
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 an office and be more available to my students. It would also mean that I would be able to pull some irons out of the fire and I could focus on what I love: teaching, inspiring, researching. On a more personal level, I would have the opportunity to Plan ahead more than 4 months… I would have health benefits for my children and myself, I would be compensated properly for what I am already doing.. teaching and researching.
Each week, I travel 15 kms to get to work and do 4 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 current income is impossible to nail down year to year, but you can forget about retirement planning. Many years I have found myself eligible for the Working Income Tax Benefit even though I have a doctorate. I currently have very little job security, which makes it hard to plan for the future. Not having a steady income is very stressful. I want to be able to keep my house. My kids don’t want any more change in their lives.
Overall, I want to tell you that we teach because we love it. We are good at what we do, exceptional even, but we are not considered equals at our places of business. We realize that universities run on our backs, we accept it … to a point, but there is still room to make our lives more comfortable, with better pay, benefits, and some semblance of job security. We deserve it. Students will benefit further from our instruction when we aren’t distracted by our next looming mortgage payment… and the additional freelance work we have to pick up to make ends meet.