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Okay, feeling

June 7, 2009

pretty furious right now.

The same week that millions of dollars of infrastructure funding has been announced, there is worse than usual nickle-and-diming going on behind the scenes with regard to teaching.

I am referring to the way that contract faculty are treated. People on term appointments that should last a year or at least ten months, being offered only eight month contracts with budget woes being cited as the reason.

People who have been teaching for the institution for years never being offered even a modicum of job security, again in the name of tight budgets.

Retirees are not being replaced. Programmes are limping along and options for students are narrowing. Members of a shrinking faculty are carrying a greater and greater burden of administrative, service, and clerical work as staff positions are cut and more and more teaching is done on contract. People teaching on contract have little pay, no benefits, and no security.

But all this will be happening in newer, shinier — or at least less leaky — buildings.

Someone in administration once said to me, “You people [i.e. full-time faculty] are our biggest expenditure.” I was taken aback and said little, and have been kicking myself ever since.

I should have said, “Who does ‘our’ refer to, white man?”

I should have said, “We are a university. A university exists to teach and provide a learning community for students, to be a centre for research, to be part of a global academic community, and to engage with the wider local community.

What on earth should we be spending the most money on, if not on people?”

Don’t misunderstand; I am grateful that we are finally seeing some funding. But don’t forget that it is targeted funding, all of it, and a slew of temporary construction is not going to go even an inch to address the chronic long-term underfunding of higher education in this province.

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One Comment
  1. Debra Lindsay permalink
    June 7, 2009 6:18 pm

    Couldn’t agree more with Miriam. The university really only has one (okay, maybe a couple of) “products,” and they all revolve around faculty and students. Would students be interested in an institution without faculty?

    On the part-timer front, I have an interesting little tid-bit to share. There are 40,000 students and 1,600+ faculty at the University of South Carolina. There are fewer than 10,000 students and 500+ faculty at UNB.

    Both institutions have some 500 part-time faculty. We are relying way too much on a poor labour market to ensure courses are taught at UNB.

    Shame.

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