CUPFA holds awareness campaign for part-time faculty
Last week, the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association (CUPFA) held its 2017 Campus Equity Week, a week-long awareness campaign highlighting the difficulties many part-time faculty members face within the university.
Erik Chevrier, CUPFA’s chair of internal mobilization, headed the campaign’s organization and conception. Chevrier explained that the goal of the week was to inform people about the particular struggle of part-time faculty members who don’t have guaranteed positions within the university.
This year’s awareness campaign was focused on job security. According to Chevrier, few students know about the specific conditions that affect part-time faculty members, such as how they must re-apply every semester to teach their courses at Concordia and how it can take them up to 10 years to be eligible for health benefits.
Recently, according to Chevrier, part-time faculty members have been offered fewer courses.
According to Chevrier, since the 2012-13 academic year, 26 of the 50 departments that offer part-time positions have reduced the amount of courses offered to part-time faculty members. This has resulted in a total of about 431 fewer courses available to part-time professors.
Some of the most extreme examples Chevrier gave were from the sociology and anthropology departments, which went from offering approximately 92 courses in 2012-13 to 34 this school year. The geography, planning and environment department also saw a drop of almost 30 courses over the same period—from 74 to 46.
For professors who rely on these jobs as their main source of income, it can be extremely stressful to live without job security. Chevrier said he wanted the campaign to be fun and engaging, so CUPFA created short quizzes for students to fill out. The association also encouraged professors to take some time during their classes to give students the quiz. It featured little-known facts about part-time faculty at Concordia, such as how about 57 per cent of the university’s courses are taught by part-time professors.
According to Chevrier—who teaches courses for the political science, sociology and psychology departments—the quiz was very well received by students who were both surprised and concerned by how little they knew about part-time faculty working conditions.
“We teach quite a few courses. With that in mind, we should be respected like others at Concordia University as well,” Chevrier said.
The awareness campaign also included three short videos featuring students from the Arts and Science and Fine Arts faculties, as well as the John Molson School of Business, explaining what part-time faculty members brought to their classes. Many part-time professors actively work in their fields, which Chevrier said can bring a real-world perspective to the classroom and enhance students’ learning experiences.
“Looking forward, we want to be respected as equals, as professors,” he said. “We want to be recognized as colleagues.”
Campus Equity Week is organized under an international body called the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor (COCAL), a network of groups that advocate for better treatment and working conditions for university part-time faculty, such as adjunct and part-time professors. Universities across Canada, the United States and Mexico each hold their own Campus Equity Weeks as part of COCAL’s international campaign.
Photo by Gabrielle Vendette