As the union representing Ontario college workers continues their strike against their employer, Ontario students are left to wonder what might become of their 2017/18 academic year. The strike has far reaching implications for students in their first year, in the middle of their program, but worst of all is the students who were on track to graduate this year. The strike also affects co-op programs and placement programs for students.
The strike began on Monday at midnight when the union representing more than 12’000 faculty members tabled their final offer to employers. The union website says its offer centered around “three critical proposals to improve education quality for students and treat faculty fairly.” Those three proposals are as follows according to opseu.org:
- a 50:50 ratio of full-time to contract faculty, which currently sits at over 70% contract faculty;
- increased job security for partial-load faculty, who currently work on one-semester contracts; and
- academic freedom to give faculty a stronger voice in academic decision-making.
While the colleges and their unions continue to battle back and forth, both looking out for their best interests, it’s easy to forget about the vulnerable in this situation. There are more than half a million college students in Ontario, currently all 515’000 are in the same position, not knowing when the strike will end, not knowing how the strike will affect the make-up of their schedules and currently not knowing if they will see any refunds for missed class time.
One of those students, Cameron Macht, a 20-year-old first year graphic design student is worried.
“The strike has me worried, as I don’t know when school will resume and I am unsure of assignments I should be completing during the strike.” Said Macht, “I worry that it will either affect the time off I have in December between semesters or the summer will get cut short. A lot of questions are up in the air and will go un-answered until a bunch of adults come up with an agreement.”
Macht also voiced his frustration at the economic strain, pointing out most students often plan on working outside of the semester to finance their schooling, with the semester likely to continue into traditional break periods, it may affect student’s abilities to afford their schooling.
However, as a first year student, he does not have as much to worry about than a graduating student. Brianna Ford is on track to graduate this year and was supposed to be in placements soon, now that is all up in their air as her teachers are on the picket line.
“As a student in my graduating year this strike has affected me deeply. I am supposed to start my internship this January and I am currently trying to find a placement on my own time since I cannot rely on the school.” Explained Ford, “The strike could not only push back my internship but also my graduation. Not only that but I am also struggling to do assignments not knowing when they are due and not being able to communicate with my teachers for help to clear up things I might be confused I’m worried it could affect my overall grades.”
LOL supposed to graduate this year pic.twitter.com/9rh4UjFi4i
— Bri (@briannafordbri2) October 16, 2017
As the strike wears on only one thing has become certain to Ontario students, they’ll have to get used to uncertainity.