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October 24, 2002 Letters


We welcome your letters, opinions and comments at BC-121/1463 Bishop St., by fax (514-848-2814), or e-mail (barblak@alcor.concordia.ca) by 9 a.m. on the Friday prior to publication.

Part-time faculty member demurs

I would like to respond to the article on the needs and concerns of part-time faculty by Carol McQueen in your Sept. 26 issue. The content of the article — not the manner in which it was written — made me feel somewhat embarrassed to be a CUPFA member.

I am a part-time faculty member who has been teaching in the Theatre Department for five years now, and I am currently in my second term of service as the elected department part-time faculty representative. This letter contains my personal opinions, however.

It is widely acknowledged in Quebec and beyond that CUPFA has fought for, and won, some of the best part-time faculty working conditions on the continent. This is a situation for which the current union leadership deserves much credit, and which I appreciate and benefit from. I feel I am well paid for work I find stimulating and satisfying; I have a voice at meetings and in the concerns of my department.

At the point at which I took an informed and considered choice to pursue a career as a theatre artist, I understood that the nature of the work I would be engaged in would never offer me much in the way of job security. So for me, the idea of a part-time union which campaigns to guarantee job security on behalf of theatre practitioners, visual artists, musicians and so forth begins to conjure up images of the safari tourist who rushes off to protect the gazelles from the lions.

In fact, a high degree of job security is already provided for part-timers in the form of the seniority system; this is a system which I, with a relatively high number of credits, very much benefit from. I have seen this process at work now from the vantage point of a number of part-time hiring committees.

Frankly, the current system works much better at protecting time-servers than it does with regard to promoting high professional standards and pedagogic breadth. As a professional teacher, these are areas of importance for me.

On a specific point, the article mentioned a theatre department part-timer who “finds it difficult to meet with students when he must share an office with 18 other part-time faculty members.”

Now, while there are pressing difficulties with space provision for our department (a situation with which all faculty and staff must contend), we do in fact have an office which is designated as per the collective agreement for the specific use of part-timers. The idea of all 18 of us packed in there, along with a student or two, made me smile. We also have a comfortable, convenient meeting room in the department which is available for use by all faculty.

This type of storm-in-a-tea-cup complaining does a little more than undermine the credibility and urgency of some of our Association’s more legitimate demands for a new deal.

Well-paid professional lecturers with tertiary levels of education working in a 21st-century academic institution should be represented in a more appropriate and intelligent manner. If more of us don’t speak out, we deserve whatever misrepresentation we receive. Is it just me, or do any other part-timers out there think it’s time we re-examined our and CUPFA’s priorities, or even just raised the tone of the debate? Or held one?

Kate Bligh, Theatre

Free speech flourishes: professor

Free speech is doing just fine at Concordia. Look at any issue of either The Link or The Concordian student newspapers. You will see that for many years, Concordia student papers have dealt with all sorts of controversial issues.

In fact, on page 20 of the Sept. 24 issue of The Link, there is an appeal from the editors for students to “Come share your opinion so we can stop looking like the SPHR/CSU newsletter.” This is a direct quote. (SPHR is Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, and the CSU is the Concordia Student Union).

In other words, the students running this paper acknowledge that not only has there been freedom of speech — unaffected by the current moratorium — but also that one side of the debate about the Middle East has dominated the pages of this publication. London has its Hyde Park Speaker’s Corner, and Concordia can point with equal pride to its unmuzzled student papers.

David Pariser, Professor, Fine Arts

CSU’s heavy hand obstructs studying

The Concordia student body is once again reeling from a CSU-organized protest. Apparently it doesn’t take much to get the CSU riled up these days.

Last week’s protest, which was to voice opposition to Yves Engler’s apparent melee with police, served as promotion for the upcoming FTAA rally. When the concept of globalization is discussed, anti-globalizers bring up the idea of giant corporations oppressing the masses.

In this case, it seems appropriate to apply that ideology to the CSU. The CSU, to a great extent, is just that, an “authoritative” force oppressing the vast majority of Concordia students. They are unrepresentative of the student population and abuse their positions to further their own political agendas.

Furthermore, does the CSU not realize that Concordia is a school? Yes, there’s room for political activism, and yes, there’s room for other activities, but Concordia is first and foremost a school and only then a political arena.

It’s hard to imagine how the CSU is acting in the best interest of all the students it supposedly represents when it goes ahead and holds a protest and causes a commotion when many students have exams and are trying to study.

Well, I guess you know what they say: A protest a day keeps your education away.

Steven Rosenshein, student, Economics