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Part Time Crime: UNB part-time profs need more

Katie Noel, The Baron (Nov. 18/08, 4).

Part-time students have every right to the same high quality of education and fair treatment within the university as full-time students. It would be absurd to even think of placing a lower value on the education of a part time student as opposed to the education of a full-time student, yet we seem to think it is acceptable to devalue the work of our part-time professors in comparison to the work of our full time professors.

U.N.B. has over four hundred part-time faculty who, although their teaching work is the same as full-time faculty, receive merely a fraction of a full-time faculty member’s wage. Furthermore, not only are part-time faculty underpaid, they receive no benefits and have no job security. Yet, as stated, part-time professors do the same teaching work as full-time professors.

Dr. Elizabeth McGahan, who was kind enough to answer a few questions for The Baron and give further details about the issues faced by part time faculty, addressed the seriousness of the situation: “Some universities do not want to advertise the fact that they have a lot of part-time”, she says. “There is a point to that. They are trying to suggest that full-time is inherently better than part-time… that everybody is up to par. And, there is the hidden implication that someone who is not full-time may not be a real academic.” The fact is, part-time faculty are academics and do work just as hard as full-time faculty.

In addition to their teaching responsibilities, part-time (as well as full-time) faculty participate in curriculum planning; chair research teams; publish articles, books and reviews; present papers at conferences edit journals, and give guest lectures (among many other activities). Dr. McGahan has published a couple of books and edits a journal, saying “and I am just one of the ordinary people who teach here”. So, what is the difference between part-time and full-time faculty? Dr. McGahan says “the difference between full-time and part-time is full-time you get a yearly salary. Part time, you’re paid for a course”. A full-time faculty member’s yearly salary includes coverage for class preparation time, whereas a part-time faculty member is not. And, adds Dr. McGahan, “full-time professors have a professional development allowance, whereas part-time professors do not”.

Since part-time professors have to prepare for class, just as full-time professors, and, since part-time professors also need to keep up with the research in their field, just as full-time professors, it is hardly unreasonable to expect part-time professors to receive equal funding for equal work. Not to mention, part-time faculty are often overlooked when it comes to advancement opportunities, such as receiving research grants. “The meat and potatoes of an academic life, in arts and sciences, is research, and people are not interested if you are not getting grants… whether you are full time or part time”, McGahan explains. So, it can easily be seen how part-time professors may have to work harder to stay up to date in their field.

Jane Logan, a stipend professor for the nursing department, explained that “if part-time people need or want to go back [to school] to update their academic credentials… there is no money for part-time people.” Albeit it may not be required for a part-time professor to update their credentials (meaning they can still keep their job), professors are typically expected to remain up to date within their discipline, although any monetary cost for a part-time professor is considered their own responsibility. Also, properly doing their job (that is, keeping up to date in their field as well as taking the time to prepare an interesting and informative course) may, and often does, require part-time professors to invest a great deal of time for which they are not paid.

Professor Logan and Dr. McGahan were passing out information sheets on Friday, October 31st in the Student Centre in hopes of raising awareness about these problems. Unfortunately, not many students took the time to stop and find out what is happening – presumably because we have been unaware that problems have been faced by our part-time faculty, or, presumably because students thought the elaborately decorated display was simply a set-up for Halloween.

Why is it that we do not appear to see a problem with any of this? Could we truly be so uncaring and inconsiderate towards the plight of our part-time professors? Or, are we simply unaware? It is hard to believe, and rather unlikely, that we just do not care about our part-time professors, especially when many of our favourite professors are hired part-time. Instead, it is perfectly explained by Dr. McGahan, and it was appropriately illustrated by the picture decorating the information sheets, as well as the protein-packed treat bags attached. Part-time faculty are, in essence, ghost workers, and, part time faculty are paid peanuts. As students, we have not been aware of these issues because we have not been aware of part-time faculty in general.

So, what can we do about it? For starters, we can no longer plead ignorance.

Dr. McGahan is aware and understands that money is tight, but she also points out that there is no reason part-time professors cannot be further recognised. In many cases, part-time professors do not have their credentials listed within their faculty listings, and in some cases, part-time faculty themselves are not listed within their faculty listings. Part time professors are usually required to share office space with other faculty. And, part-time faculty can be difficult to find in campus listings. “I don’t exist”, says Dr. McGahan, “and that would be a first step, recognising that these people exist. That would cost nothing.”

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