Ruth Bradley-St-Cyr’s Experience
First-year Essay Writing, University of Ottawa
I’ve worked as a contract faculty member for several years. I currently teach Canadian publishing history. I love my job because I help students understand that writing an academic essay is not meant to be a form of torture. I’ll never forget when my TA Amanda and I had our two sections compete for house points. House of Montague always wins! I’m extremely proud of the time I co-authored A Writer’s Workshop: Crafting Sentences, Building Paragraphs, Designing Essays.
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 spend more time preparing courses, especially those with better online components. It would also mean that my research would become a regular part of my work life rather than a personal expense. On a more personal level, I could balance my life, not always scramble for the next editing job, teaching contract, or grant application.
Each week, I travel 50 kms to get to work and do many hours of additional unpaid work to support my students. In return, I have no benefits. This is on top of $20,001-$30,000 in student debt I owe. My current income is wildly fluctuating and unstable; it is difficult to see how we will pay off the debt before retirement, so we can’t save for retirement. I currently have zero job security, which makes it hard to plan anything, including visiting my daughters.
Overall, I want to tell you that putting in four to seven years pursuing a PhD and then ending up with less job security than working at Tim Hortons is completely unacceptable. It doesn’t work for me and it doesn’t work for undergraduate students, most of whom are taught by people like me.