Sessional Faculty in Canada and Adjunct Faculty in the U.S. Share More Than Just An International Border
by Christopher Cumo
Eileen Lohka taught French seven years at the University of Calgary as a sessional, what U.S. residents would call an adjunct. She followed her husband, a biologist, to the university and could not find full-time work in a one-university town, though her schedule was no less frenetic for being part-time. Several preparations, grading papers and exams, and advising students all devour her time.
“I never close my door and therefore spend a lot of time with students, mine and others,” she says.
Lohka knows how readily administrators take her for granted. They have no incentive to hire her full-time because she already teaches for the university, allowing them instead to lure someone with a different specialty. Like any adjunct, she can recite the litany of poor pay, no
benefits, and no job security, a system Lohka works to improve as a member of the Board of Directors of the University of Calgary Faculty Association and of the Committee on Contract Academic Staff of the Canadian Association of University Teachers.
“I am never afraid to speak up,” she says, a candor that leads her to hope that Canadian universities will one day abolish sessionals.
But this may be Pollyanna-ish.
“Speculation is that the numbers [of sessionals] are similar to U.S. numbers,” says CAUT organizer Vicky Smallman.
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