At this point, 50,000 long-suffering York students don't have much more to lose and a few extra days to hear the NDP highlight pinched university funding seems worth it for everyone.
The mess at York was a long-time coming, so let's take a moment to reflect on the fact that the academics of our suburban university are now largely in the hands of underpaid, demoralized contract workers.
It's about money, of course, and the York admin and government's willingness to tolerate professional de-skilling on the university level.
While figures on the increasing percentage of contract profs are hard to get, according to the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Association's Donna Gray, we know anecdotally that universities are depending less and less on profs working the traditional career paths of publishing and tenure.
CUPE 3903 says while 70 per cent of new hires three decades ago were tenure-stream, the number now is roughly 30 per cent, close to the numbers cited for U.S. campuses.
But to say the professorial role is being whittled away, is not to dis the talents of contract faculty. Actually, I was one myself. At York and three other universities as well. I know the pressures to intrigue and entertain and to be deemed knowledgeable by that sea of eyes staring back under fluorescent lights.
And I have a pretty fair notion of what it takes to talk for an hour on a subject and still know enough to answer follow-up questions. It's really hard to slum when your boss is a room of students who've struggled hard to be in those seats.
The problem really comes from the fact that the pay cheque of sessional lecturers doesn't cover research - meaning students are now taught by academics not paid to engage in the ongoing project of scholarship.
This really is a bummer with huge implications for student success and our own self-esteem as residents of a university city. It particularly effects the all-important reference letter in the global higher ed system where the game is to win a spot against all others.
And it means our local campus becomes less and less a player in the academic prestige competition; this says a lot, too much actually, about what we do and don't hold dear.