Back to top

Story from Sarika Bose

Sarika Bose
Number of years as contract academic staff: 
19 years
Favourite part of your job: 
Intellectual stimulation through conversations with engaged students and with colleagues in all kinds of disciplines across campus; access to research spaces like gardens, museum, theatre and music program presentations.
Financial impact: the secondary salary scale pays me as if I don’t have a terminal degree, expertise or experience, and ignores all the extra service I give to supporting students. Most of what I contribute is not very different in impact on students from the work provided for them by tenured, well-paid faculty, as I not only teach a higher numbers of students, but also voluntarily sit on departmental and university-wide committees that forward the university’s mission to provide formal education and support them in other ways. I have to take all the courses I'm offered because I'm not sure if I'll have enough courses to live on for the next year. I can't make long-term plans. Retirement is not going to be an option, unless I want to live on income assistance, and I can only hope the health challenges of old age will not be too much, since the healthcare system does not include many special prescriptions or medical treatments people tend to need as they age. I will not be able to afford to live on what little pension and savings I've been able to acquire. Belonging: The lack of inclusion by tenured colleagues in the intellectual work and opportunities within the Academy means that the academic identities of colleagues with precarious contracts are constantly assaulted. With the gates barred against access to many of the resources the Academy provides for tenure-track and tenured academics, contract academics are made to feel that they are homeless in the academic world, however long they may have worked in the same institution. They are also made to feel they deserve their second or third tier status, and while the Academy bars them from the research support that might allow them to become full citizens, it blames them for not doing that research. Health Impact: My physical health is impacted because I don't have the time to see a doctor or to take care of my health in other ways. When I think of my colleagues, I see that many are not eating properly or at regular times because they can neither afford nutritious food, nor exercise because having to complete an almost impossible set of tasks at the end of a teaching day means there's no time. Sleep deprivation and anxiety from the workload and inadequate salaries further impact the health of contract academic staff.