Mar 11 2009

Professor Untangles Twisted Tale of Conversion Program

Category: Post-strike Discussion (2009)Bob Hanke @ 7:55 pm

Conversion Program Not Unique

Re: “The York strike: a tangled tale  of entitlements,” Opinions, Feb. 18, 2009.
By Richard Wellen, Chair, Division of Social Science, Faculty of Arts (excerpted from the Excalibur, March 11, 2009)

In this opinion piece, Prof. Gerrard Naddaf questions the very legitimacy of conversions, or the Special Renewable Contract-type (SRC) appointments,demanded by CUPE 3903 during the strike. The basic thrust of his piece is that there is only one good way to make a “real” academic appointment and that over-ambitious unions shouldn’t get in the way of this process. As Naddaf acknowledges, however, the way “free competition” works in regular academic appointments is prejudicial to those with long service in contract positions. Folks who teach for many years as contract faculty do so with almost no support for doing the kind of research that will later allow them to secure a tenure-stream job. Many contract faculty members originally pursued contract positions because they did not have the sufficient family financial resources to do research without a paid job. These and other obstacles to  career progress for contract faculty have been well documented (see, for example, Indhu Rajagopal’s book, Hidden Academics: Contract Faculty in Canadian Universities). For Nadaff, long service and other obstacles shouldn’t be recognized to ensure fairness in academic appointments, and, even if long service leads to one being unfairly left out, that’s just the way the academic game is played. No argument is actually given as to why we should accept this situation, or why those in the conversion pool who have research publications and have taught a number of years should not be given a chance to apply for tenure.

To read, the rest of this opinion, click here.

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