Panel Discussion: In Search of Professor Precarious

In Octo­ber 2021, URFA’s Ses­sion­al Advo­ca­cy Com­mit­tee host­ed a screen­ing of the doc­u­men­tary film In Search of Pro­fes­sor Pre­car­i­ous”, fol­lowed by a rich pan­el dis­cus­sion. Par­tic­i­pants heard about the oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges found in ses­sion­al employ­ment, shared encour­age­ment, and left with ideas of how to stand in sol­i­dar­i­ty with ses­sion­al faculty.

If you weren’t able to attend, we’re pleased to share the record­ing of the pan­el dis­cus­sion and Q&A peri­od with you. 

Some not so fun’ facts about being a ses­sion­al instructor

Pre­pared by URFA’s Ses­sion­al Advo­ca­cy Committee

  • Accord­ing to the 2019/2020 URFA Annu­al Report, the num­ber of Ses­sion­al Instruc­tors
    employed at the U of R increased from 451 in 2003 to 609 in 2019: an increase of 35%. How­ev­er, the num­ber of fac­ul­ty mem­bers only increased by 3.9% (18 hires) dur­ing the same time peri­od. (Source)
  • Accord­ing to a 2014 CBC report, depend­ing on the fac­ul­ty, the salary of pro­fes­sors at most Cana­di­an uni­ver­si­ties ranges between $80,000 and $150,000 a year. A con­tract fac­ul­ty per­son teach­ing those same four cours­es will earn about $28,000. (Source)
  • CUPE 4163 Com­po­nent 3 rep­re­sents approx­i­mate­ly 450 ses­sion­al lec­tur­ers and music per­for­mance instruc­tors at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vic­to­ria. They teach 30 per cent of all uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents at UVic. (Source)
  • A 2018 sur­vey con­duct­ed by the Fac­ul­ty Asso­ci­a­tion of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­gary deter­mined that:
    • between 2005 and 2015, there was a 79% increase in uni­ver­si­ty teach­ers work­ing part-time;
    • 53% of respon­dents want a tenure-track uni­ver­si­ty or full-time, per­ma­nent col­lege job;
    • 69% of sur­vey respon­dents feel their work­ing con­di­tions need to change;
    • 45% of respon­dents report­ed that if they did not get their con­tract instruc­tor pay, they wouldn’t be able to pay their month­ly bills; and
    • two-thirds of respon­dents said their men­tal health has been neg­a­tive­ly impact­ed by the con­tin­gent nature of their employ­ment, and just 19% think the insti­tu­tions where they work are mod­el employ­ers and sup­port­ers of good jobs. (Source)

What you can do to sup­port sessionals

If you are a ses­sion­al mem­ber of URFA, here are three ways you can raise aware­ness of ses­sion­al issues and encour­age oth­ers to sup­port you: 

If you are a non-ses­sion­al mem­ber of URFA, here is how you can stand in sol­i­dar­i­ty with your ses­sion­al colleagues:

URFA thanks the guest pan­elists for their thought-pro­vok­ing and moti­vat­ing con­tri­bu­tions to the pan­el dis­cus­sion. Thanks also to the par­tic­i­pants who joined us for an excel­lent dis­cus­sion. If you learned some­thing new from the film or the pan­el dis­cus­sion, con­sid­er shar­ing your learn­ing on social media so oth­ers can learn too!