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    • 18 MAR 21
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    When “Part-Time Studies” is NOT “Part-Time Studies”

    When “Part-Time Studies” is NOT “Part-Time Studies”

    This is an updated version of a piece that originally ran our 2017/18 Annual Report.

    Headshot of Mak Abdel-HaiGuest Contributor: Mak Abdel-Hai; FSA Member; Visual Effects & Motion Graphics Instructor; Digital Arts, BCIT School of Business + Media

    You might not know that many instructors at BCIT lack job security and are forced to accept a two-tier system, without an end in sight, in which they have lesser rights, despite making the same contributions. I was locked in that situation for nineteen years.

    It was October 1999 when I walked into a classroom to teach my first Part-Time Studies (PTS) class. It was part of a pilot program in the new field of Digital Media. Fast forward to March 2018 when I finally became regularized as a full-time instructor at BCIT.

    During those nineteen years, I taught mostly within full-time programs and was expected to be available during weekdays, evenings, sometimes weekends, all year, no summer or spring breaks, without any of the teaching hours accumulating towards placement at a higher pay-scale, and without any established seniority within a department. Initially, my colleagues and I were told that since these programs are new, BCIT can’t guarantee they’ll keep running, and thus we will be hired as Part-Time Studies instructors.

    Yet years went by while we, all still PTS instructors, took part in building one new program after the other, culminating in the establishment of the Department of Digital Arts. It includes five full-time programs with hundreds of enrolled students, coming from all over Canada and the world. We took part in securing BCIT’s success, but we were all still PTS instructors.

    Things changed when I consulted heavily with the FSA. I got immense support from Heather Neun, Christine Nagy, and many others who worked diligently to understand and then untangle the complex web of loopholes used to keep myself and others locked in such a position. Ultimately, a change in management’s approach occurred and they saw how this PTS label was not beneficial for our Department or students. For the past two years, I’ve been regularized, yet many others in some programs at BCIT still live the same reality I lived for years.

    It boils down to a simple question: Do you believe it is fair to give different rights to employees who make the same contributions year after year? I don’t.

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