Stu­dents frus­trated as York Univer­sity strike drags on

The Peterborough Examiner - - Canada & World - MAIJA KAPPLER The Cana­dian Press

TORONTO — As York Univer­sity pre­pares to launch its sum­mer se­mes­ter with­out the in­volve­ment of 3,000 strik­ing con­tract staff, stu­dents whose win­tert­erm classes were dis­rupted are ex­press­ing frus­tra­tion at the labour dis­pute, which is now into its 11th week.

The strike at the Toronto univer­sity saw con­tract fac­ulty and grad­u­ate teach­ing and re­search as­sis­tants walk off the job over issues of wages and job se­cu­rity on March 5.

Tens of thou­sands of stu­dents have been af­fected, with some rais­ing ques­tions about whether they’ll be able to com­plete their de­grees on time.

Sarah Mor­ri­son, a third-year York nurs­ing stu­dent, says she had been two months into a se­mes­ter that in­volved a clin­i­cal place­ment in a com­mu­nity en­vi­ron­ment when the strike be­gan.

The labour dis­rup­tion has de­layed that place­ment, an ex­pe­ri­ence only avail­able to thirdyear stu­dents and one that Mor­ri­son had been ex­cited about.

“Los­ing that, it’s kind of los­ing the one thing I was re­ally look­ing for­ward to, los­ing the one thing that would have prob­a­bly ben­e­fited me if I was look­ing to get a job in pub­lic health,” she said.

Since March, Mor­ri­son has been wait­ing to find out when her place­ment will re­sume.

“It’s been static from our clin­i­cal men­tors,” she said. “Our teach­ers, they’re not al­lowed to email us or any­thing.”

Mor­ri­son said she has cut down on planned work hours over the sum­mer, in case her classes start up again.

First-year stu­dent Sa­man­tha Zurin said three of her four classes have been sus­pended by the univer­sity since the strike be­gan and the in­struc­tor of the fourth course went on to can­cel all classes.

The in­struc­tor “does not re­spond to stu­dents (and) when con­tacted about this class York doesn’t do any­thing about it,” Zurin said.

“I feel like the two sides have used the stu­dents as pawns and this could have been over — we could have fin­ished our month of school two months ago,” she said.

York says it is work­ing to do all it can to al­low stu­dents to grad­u­ate wher­ever pos­si­ble. It also says con­vo­ca­tion cer­e­monies are tak­ing place as sched­uled.

The univer­sity also said its sum­mer term, be­gin­ning Tues­day, is ex­pected to of­fer fewer cour­ses than planned due to the labour dis­rup­tion.

“We an­tic­i­pate that the num­ber of cour­ses of­fered will be re­duced from the orig­i­nal sched­ule as a re­sult of the cur­rent labour dis­rup­tion,” it said in a let­ter to stu­dents.

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