I am running to be Director of the ATS constituency group
My name is Kristine Smitka, and I am running to be Director of the ATS constituency group. As an Associate Lecturer in the Department of English and Film Studies, I have taught a wide range of English classes and have published in the areas of Canadian literature and communications theory, particularly on the work of Marshall McLuhan. However, I predominately teach writing-intensive classes at the first-year level. Part of my current position comprises coordinating first-year English, which includes over 100 instructors teaching 246 sections of courses required by many UofA undergraduate students. These sections are largely taught by ATS, many of whom lack job security.
I have been working as ATS at the UofA since 2014, and I have been an elected-ATS representative to the AASUA since 2018. I first ran to be a councillor because I was frustrated with having my full-time workload portioned into a series of smaller contracts; this same issue continues to impact many of my departmental colleagues. However, serving as a councillor has introduced me to the complexity of issues facing ATS, exemplified in the diversity of our job descriptions. While there are 1,005 ATS at the UofA (2019-2020 academic year), the nature of our jobs varies greatly among departments. This makes advocating for ATS challenging, as one member’s greatest problem may be a lack of appropriate office space, while another member’s most pressing issue may be a sudden increase in workload as a result of increased caps on enrolment in their courses.
However, what unites these members is a desire for job security and the dignity that comes with being recognized as important contributors to the mission of the university. As Director, I will work to understand the nuances of ATS experiences on campus, so that I can best represent our constituency. I will also work to find common ground with the other constituency groups that comprise the AASUA. Improved job security for ATS benefits everyone, particularly students, and this needs to be better communicated both across campus and to the broader public.
As the university works to respond to a challenging budget and uncertain enrolments as the result of an evolving pandemic, the AASUA will be faced with many challenges. This will inevitably impact our current round of collective bargaining. As Director, I will work to communicate regularly with our members to ensure I am informed of the priorities and interests of our constituents, especially when it comes to working conditions, and I will advocate for equitable practices for academic staff, which includes acknowledging the centrality of ATS to the student experience and the mandate of the university more broadly.