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CAUT Bulletin Archives

April 2004

Almanac Disappoints

I am writing to express my disappointment with your recent Almanac of Post-Secondary Education in Canada. The idea behind this publication is great. One of the most important tools for bringing about progressive change to an institution is detailed information about the status quo. What I am concerned about is what has been left out of the compilation.

One of the biggest problems in Canadian universities today, from both a pedagogical and a humane standpoint, is the increasing use of part-time instructors. It is no secret the people in these positions are exploited - underpaid, overworked, marginalized, denied the perks and resources their full-time colleagues take for granted, deprived of both benefits and job security.

One could argue it is this particular group which is most in need of the aforementioned tools for change. Yet your almanac contains not one single fact about the positioning of part-timers. If the reason for the omission is that this information is not as easily available as information about full-time faculty, then it seems to me CAUT should be doing something to make sure that it "becomes" available.

By simply omitting the category from your "factual overview," as if it doesn't exist, you are just helping universities keep their dirty little secrets safely under the rug.

Gaile McGregor
Sociology, University of Western Ontario

No known data on contract academic staff have been omitted from the CAUT almanac. The problem is that virtually no reliable data are available. We have pressed Statistics Canada to remedy the problem. They are committed to doing so, but they require the cooperation of the university administrations, some of which simply will not provide data or claim they do not have it. We have tried gathering the information from faculty associations, but most do not have access to it either. Statistics Canada is committed to a new approach to its annual faculty survey. Hopefully, the glaring absence of data about contract academic staff will be corrected. We share your concern and are determined to find a remedy. - ed.