(This article is from the WLUFA Advocate October 2016 5.1.)
Laurier Student, LSPIRG
Students have a responsibility to support Contract Faculty. Contract Academic Staff (CAS) make an important contribution to the quality of education students receive at Laurier. However, without adequate pay, job security, or working conditions their contributions are grossly undervalued. When students fail to engage on these issues, we perpetuate the injustices carried out against Contract Faculty.
Within academic institutions, students have power. As stakeholders who contribute academic, financial, and social value to the institution, students have a right to be consulted in governance and decision-making. Students can thus shape the socio-political climate of the university, by taking a stance on important issues and holding the Administration accountable.
Unfortunately, many students are depoliticized or led to believe that they do not have power. Feelings of powerlessness are engendered by the necessity of students to negotiate complex bureaucracy and engage in an uncritical school culture. By distracting students from engaging critically, the university ensures conformity and acceptance of the status quo.
At Laurier and post-secondary institutions across the country, neoliberalism has become the status quo. In this context, neoliberal economic and social policies are viewed as the only solution to the problems facing academic institutions. This universal adherence to neoliberal policy frustrates and disadvantages both the student body and Contract Faculty. Students must stand with CAS to advance progressive solutions to these issues.
In solidarity with staff, students can effect positive changes in the educational process. The well-being of CAS would improve if compensation, job security, and working conditions appropriately reflected the value of their contribution. Students also stand to benefit from improved labour rights for Contract Faculty, as staff would have greater capacity to support our education.
Opportunities for students to join the battle exist, and it is about time we did.