Letters

DEAR UNIVERSITY OF Ottawa Administrative Committee,

I hereby request payment for my work as an elected member of the University of Ottawa Senate, representing all graduate students in the sciences, for the 2010–11 and 2011–12 academic years.

As a student representative, I am an equal member of senate as those senate members who belong to the professoriate or to the administration, as stipulated by Senate By-Law No. 1, 2008, pursuant to Article 15(h) of the University of Ottawa Act.

However, as a student representative, I am not paid for my work at the senate whereas all administrative and faculty members (professors) of such committees are paid for this same work. This is a discriminatory treatment that must be repaired.

I have had to compromise my time and resources available for my other graduate student duties and for my research career advancement, and accept financial liability in order to duly perform my responsibilities at the senate, as must all student members. Therefore, please provide me with a payment equal to the average pay that a professor earns for his or her senate work, for both the 2010–11 and 2011–12 academic years during which I have been and am currently a member of senate.

The 2010 public salary disclosure for University of Ottawa employees shows that the average pay for the members of senate as of May 2011 was $142,213. This does not include the undisclosed salaries of professor Robert Bell and of the professors from St. Paul University.

A typical workload for a professor is 40 per cent teaching, 40 per cent research, and 20 per cent administration duties. The 20 per cent administration work typically requires sitting on four committees, meaning professors sitting on the senate are paid five per cent of their annual salary for their senate work; five per cent of $142,213.63 is $7,110.68.

I therefore request two instalments of $7,110.68 for my work on senate during the 2010–11 and 2011–12 academic years. I would also be willing to consider an amount calculated in the above manner but making use of a more detailed salary list and/or average workload breakdown, such as the university has available.

Payment for student senators is an obvious pay equity issue, as I am sure you will agree. Repairing discrimination goes a long way toward improving pride and motivation in one’s work, and the added benefits to the community of paying student representatives in university governance are significant and generally recognized in society.

With fair compensation student representatives will have more time for their committee work, being able to drop some of their other work. Indeed, governance work is currently inaccessible to many students because it is not compensated. In Canada, we pay our members of Parliament in order to help make governance positions accessible to any citizen. The same principle must hold with students who, as a group, are financially disadvantaged. Otherwise, the university is blatantly practicing discrimination having significant negative consequences.

I trust that “Canada’s university” will immediately do the right thing.

Joseph Hickey
Student representative to senate, Faculty of Graduate Studies, sciences section