Mandatory Retirement: Discrimination in the Academic World - Sample Essay

Mandatory retirement for people 65 and over has been enforced in Canada over the last few years. The act also targeted were professors and other members of higher-level academia. While many believed that mandatory retirement would help to allow aging professors accept a retirement they might otherwise reject, the mandatory retirement only proved one thing: that despite an individual’s contributions to society and education throughout the years, that individual was still subject to ageism.

Mandatory retirement should no longer be enforced due to the fact that it violates an individual’s rights and allows for discrimination against age to be considered legal, and does not take into consideration that in many cases, the body ages faster than the mind, thus allowing for professors to be able to continue teaching effectively even as they grow older. Mandatory retirement is an obvious attack on an individual’s human rights. By stating that any individual 65 and older must be forced into retirement, discrimination against age is given legal permission to exist.

Mandatory retirement alludes to the idea that any individual who is 65 and older is no longer mentally and physically sound to continue acting in a position of academic leadership, and also goes so far as to insult the individual’s mental capacity. It is that idea which forces professors to be put at a disadvantage in terms of the act. According to the article “New law lets Ontario profs teach beyond age 65” by Claire Neary, “Western’s faculty association, along with every Ontario faculty association, argued mandatory retirement is a violation of human rights and should be abolished immediately.

‘Human beings don’t have best-buy dates or shelf lives that are universal across the species […]’. ” An opinion piece for Gazette. com also stated that mandatory retirement could be considered a human rights violation because it dictated when people were to retire even though all individuals have the right to work. The piece also explains that in many cases, professors are forced to work for many years before they are considered to be professionals in their fields and that in many cases, professors might only be able to begin teaching to their full capacity a few years before mandatory retirement would be enforced.

The article also draws attention to the fact that older professors are able to bring experience to the classroom and that a general law demanding retirement at a specific age does not take the individual’s mental capacity into consideration. The idea of a generalized shelf life makes the issue that much more problematic. There is no definitive means of determining what age a professor will remain of great quality until. If anything, it is an older professor’s experience over the years which can give a course much more meaning.

For example, if a professor lectures on mythology from a book and does not bring any personal experience to the course, students will only take information and stories out the lectures. But if a professor is able to state that he went to the famous temples students are learning about, and perhaps even visited a sort-of modern day oracle, the students might become more interested in the subject matter and have a greater understanding of the way course information is still relevant to the world outside of academia.

A professor who is able to speak about course matter more personally as compared to a professor who only knows what he has read in books is more capable of making the subject matter become more interesting for the students. The emphasis on age in terms of mandatory retirement is almost a frivolous idea. Many professors begin teaching after they have spent years devoted to other occupations; it is not uncommon for former businessmen or historians to begin teaching courses based on their personal areas of expertise. While they might be older in age, their decision to begin teaching also began later in life.

To allow a professor to begin teaching at the age of 60 and only have five years in the academic world is a disservice provided the professor is still lecturing to his full capacity. This idea alludes to the notion of there not being a “best-buy date”. It is also a common theory that older individuals who are kept active are able to stay alive longer; if professors are constantly reading and writing about their subject matter as they age, their minds may just retain their mental acuity longer than other people their age, thus proving that a “best-buy date” is nonexistent.

Nancy Gray’s article “U of T to eliminate mandatory retirement” quotes Belinda Sutton of the Ontario Ministry of Labour as saying, “Ontarians are living longer and healthier lives and it is unfair to insist that they stop working at age 65. Age should not be used arbitrarily to determine when a person retires. ” The amount of individuals who would continue to teach after the age of 65 is also shown to be considerably smaller than believed. Jesse Haperin’s article “OCUFA fighting for rights” states that only a minority of professors would be willing to teach past the age of 65.

Neary’s article gives that minority a total of 2-4% of professors, a relatively small number in respect to the rest of the academic population. Haperin’s article also stated that universities feared that professors who remained in their positions past the age of 65 would severely affect the amount of new professors being hired by universities to fill the vacancies. It is obvious that because the number of professors who would remain teaching past age 65 is so small, the affect on the hiring of new professors would be minimal as well.

Professors should not be subjected to mandatory retirement due primarily to the fact that ageism is a form of discrimination and that acts such as mandatory retirement only serve to aggravate general views of older individuals being unable to function in today’s society, as well as the fact that while the number of professors choosing to remain teaching after the age of 65 is minimal, the majority cannot be generalized for the ways in which their bodies and minds have aged.

Works Cited

Gazette. com. (2004, October 13). OCUFA fighting for rights. Retrieved June 1, 2007 from http://www. gazette. uwo. ca/article. cfm? section=section=FrontPage&articleID=66& month=10&day=13&year=2004. Gazette. com. (2005, March 16). U of T to eliminate mandatory retirement. Retrieved June 1, 2007 from http://www. gazette. uwo. ca/article. cfm? section=FrontPage& articleID=315&moth=3&day=16&year=2005.

Gazette. com. (2007, April 12). New law lets Ontario profs teach beyond age 65. Retrieved June 1, 2007 from http://www. gazette. uwo. ca/article. cfm? section=FrontPage&article ID=991&month=04&day=12&year=2007. Gazette. com. (2007, April 12). Professors age like fine wine. Retrieved June 1, 2007 from http://www. gazette. uwo. ca/article. cfm? section=Opinions&articleID=1357&month =04&day=12&year=2007.