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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Strike Update: A Rebuttal

My, Rogers certainly is thorough, isn't he? Never say we don't keep you informed, Windsor.

Got an email today from one Chad Beharriell, a History and Distance Education Instructor at UWindsor.

Beharriell is a Sessional Instructor, which puts him at the centre of what seems to have become the flashpoint issue of this labour dispute; as one of those 'Maquiladora'-style instructors, so labeled by UWindsor Comm Studies prof James Winter both in print and in video [videos you in previous entries], his profession has attracted the ire of faculty and student alike.

Beharriell writes in response to an editorial by Winter published in the Windsor Star, after negotiations between faculty and admin first broke down. His response is presented here in its entirety.

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James Winter is both an accomplished academic and passionate writer, as evidenced in his August 25th letter to the Windsor Star, 'Lowest Bidders Wanted'. Yet as a sessional instructor at the University of Windsor, I feel he misrepresents both my work and personal approach to teaching when he describes me as a "Maquiladora"-type Mexican worker to the public.

As an instructor in the History and Distance Education departments, I feel fortunate to come from a Northern Ontario village to share my approach to Canadian history with students. I would never compare such fortunate circumstances - receptive students, supportive faculty and administration and a vibrant city - to the lot of factory workers in the developing world.

I chose to accept my job and did not do so grudgingly. Mr. Winter might say that I lack the necessary 'class-consciousness' to see how mistreated I am but I am conscious enough to be grateful for decent employment when half the world, as I'm sure he is aware, lives on less than a dollar a day.

Finally, while I respect the research abilities of my university peers, Mr. Winter's logic is flawed to argue that conducting research equates directly to teaching ability. Students require instructors to clearly share ideas in a class setting - I am confident in my teaching skills to deliver quality education without a majority focus on my own research. Ask a student how they rate their instructors - that is the
final judgment on teaching.

I believe that the faculty union has the right to strike if they truly believe they are being hard done by - but I also have the right not to participate if I do not share that perspective on my situation as a sessional instructor.

Chad Beharriell
History and Distance Education Instructor
University of Windsor

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