Every fall, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and its member associations including the UBCFA, organize and host a week-long celebration of contract academic staff. The events and activities during that week are designed to highlight issues affecting sessional and contract faculty on campus and, in particular, how contract academic faculty working conditions are far more precarious than they should be.
During our last Fair Employment Week at UBC (Fall 2017), UBCFA’s Contract Faculty Committee Chair, Sarika Bose and her Contract Faculty volunteers set up an information booth in the Agora at the AMS Student NEST. As well as talking to sessionals about their issues, UBCFA’s Contract Faculty Committee used this opportunity to reach out to both full-time faculty and students to raise awareness about the contract academic experience at UBC.
UBCFA traditionally sponsors a lunch for contract faculty during Fair Employment Week and this year was no different. Contract Faculty on the Vancouver Campus were invited to attend a special lunch on campus. As well as Committee members, UBCFA’s Membership Services Officers also attended and engaged in discussions both specific and general about issues facing Contract faculty.
Toward the end of the week, UBC contract academics and their counterparts at other post-secondary institutions in the lower mainland were invited to attend a special Pub Social. This is traditionally a great opportunity to share information and find out about what’s happening at similar organizations.
Although Fair Employment Week events are important, equally so is the opportunity to again remind our university decision-makers of the critical role contract faculty academics play in the life of the University. A significant part of the campaign was the distribution of postcards addressed to UBC’s new president, highlighting just how important contract faculty are to the institution. These postcards were signed by both faculty and students and delivered during the week. The Association also sent letters to Professors Santa Ono, UBC’s President, and Andrew Szeri, Provost and Vice-President Academic, further bringing their attention to the ongoing problems faced by contingent academics.
The UBC Faculty Association remains committed to working on behalf of our Contract Faculty members. Fair Employment Week is a means to bring to the attention of the university administration, faculty and students just how important contract academics are to the future of UBC, and a way for us to continue our efforts to bring fairness to our workplace.