As Ontario college students enter the winter semester, a dark cloud lingers over the future of their academic year.
Full-time college faculty voted 57 per cent in favour of a strike mandate on Jan. 13. Negotiations resumed today after a series of unsuccessful meetings last week. There has been little information disclosed regarding the potential strike or the teachers’ demands.
With memories of the three-month York University strike which ended February 2009 still looming in the minds of many students, the potential of losing their academic year is disconcerting.
Greg Hamara, media relations officer at the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, said that any serious academic consequences for students are unlikely.
“The community college faculty have been in a strike position three times previously over the last 40 years and in no cases have the [students’] school year been jeopardized,” Hamara said.
Try telling that to the students enrolled in any of the 24 Ontario colleges who will be out of class should a strike occur.
Tyler Charlebois, director of Advocacy for the College Student Alliance, didn’t share Hamara’s positive outlook on the strike.
“There is no segregation, everyone is mixed, and everyone is in the same boat in having their education put on hold,” Charlebois said.
Charlebois also said that the teacher’s union would ideally aim to strike sometime in late February or early March, as that is the most critical period for students, due to exams and final projects being due around this time, and would give the union the most leverage.
Hamara declined to comment on this.