Aiden Mehak (she/her/they/them) is a Teaching Assistant and a 4th-year PhD student in Clinical Psychology at McGill.
Where are you from?
I’m from Toronto.
How long have you been a Teaching Assistant at McGill?
This is my third year working as a TA.
What do you like doing for fun?
I’m a competitive powerlifter in the 76kg weight class! When I’m not doing work related to my degree, you can probably find me at the gym. I’m also involved in direct action as an anticapitalist and antifascist and have done some advocacy work for Indigenous rights within my field. I’m trying to get more involved in climate justice organizing so if that’s your thing, hit me up!
How long have you been AGSEM delegate? What have been your tasks as a delegate so far?
I took over for one of the psychology delegates who left for her predoctoral internship in my program in August 2021. I still feel pretty new to organizing within an institution but I’ve been involved in training our incoming PhD students, hosting a mobilization event, and working on the Mental Health Working Group.
What is your favorite part of working as a TA?
It’s been lovely to be able to help motivated students achieve their goals and I’m often impressed by the questions students come to me with that show that they’re really trying to understand the material instead of just memorizing.
What has been the biggest challenge in your work so far?
I’ve been really disheartened to see McGill, ostensibly an educational institution, prioritize profit over students’ learning. In psychology, we have huge class sizes to maximize enrollment (and maximize $$$) and few TAs (one TA for 100 students) making it nearly impossible for students to have opportunities to learn how to write properly. By necessity, most assessments are being multiple choice exams, which doesn’t adequately prepare students for careers in psychology.
What should be improved about the current TA Collective Agreement between AGSEM and McGill?
I have two suggestions: 1) hours worked in excess of 180 should be compensated as overtime instead of at the regular hourly rate; 2) there are a lot of TA trainings related to equity (e.g., managing microaggressions as a TA) that are useful for everyone – not just first time TAs. The 3 hours of compensated training should be offered to all TAs.
Why do you think unionizing and having a strong labor union is important for Teaching Assistants, Invigilators, and other groups of employees at McGill?
The longer I work at McGill, the more I see the university as a corporation that doesn’t necessarily have its students' and employees' best interests at heart. Higher education is a business, period. If our goal is to minimize exploitation, we have to organize and put up a united front.
Would you like to add anything?
I’m happy to be a part of AGSEM to connect with others who are determined to make change within McGill and beyond.
Thank you for your union involvement and for participating in the Q&A, Aiden!
"Get to Know Your Delegate" is a series of blog posts introducing AGSEM Delegates in a Q&A format. Are you an AGSEM Delegate interested in being featured in the series? Email your External Communications Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org