Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

When I was the president of the Graduate Students' Association of the University of Alberta I campaigned hard for improved teaching assistant and sessional (aka adjunct) instructors proposer pay. The precarious working conditions for these employees is well understood. We negotiated hard over stipends and fees, we sued (and won) for almost a million dollars of illegal excess fees, and we attempted to unionize with CUPE. My successor converted the back room lounge into a busy and very necessary food bank. At every point, the university resisted us, and this experience still informs my views of academic institutions many years later. So I agree with Katherine Chapman that "As vital civic institutions, there is a moral case for universities ensuring at least the real living wage." And I'm not prepared to accept the university as any sort of moral authority until they decide to do this.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Dec 02, 2023 07:44 a.m.

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