On the strike

(Megan Cooke/AQ)
(Megan Cooke/AQ)

I’m torn about how to feel about the UNB faculty strike. I generally want to support workers, but I’m worried for the students. If life were easier the UNB faculty and administration would have quickly come to an agreement and that would have been that, but it doesn’t seem to want to work out just so easily. Workers right are all well and good, but when people (faculty and administration) gamble with a student’s education then it becomes a lot more personal. It’s not that I don’t support UNB faculty, I do, it’s just that my support hinges on whether they take into consideration the many lives they are affecting.

Up here at STU, the strike may seem distant, but I can see the pickets and hear the slogans every morning. We all know people at UNB, so it’s important to keep up.

“I find that students are either really stressed out about it or they don’t care at all and are loving the time off,” said Cameron McNeil, a second year UNB student. “I don’t think there is an in between.”

I’m happy for those care free students. But trust me, I’m envious of their happy go-lucky attitude more than for the little vacation they see themselves in. If FAUST were to strike I know which end of the stress spectrum I’d fall on. I’m not here to jynx it, I’m just saying I wouldn’t be a happy camper if I lost a semester.

It’s obvious to point out that the students are affected, but there are some less obvious cases that are particularly resonant. Take for instance international students, they’re quite possibly getting the worst of the whole strike. Much higher tuition prices, student visas that severely restrict employment options and nowhere in-country to take shelter until this blows over. Students are either stuck in Canada, losing serious amounts of money or they have already started booking flights out of the country. It’s better to head back home to make the most of the time of rather than waste it abroad.

It all comes back to money. Students have been urged by the faculty not to pay their tuition, and while I certainly wouldn’t if I wasn’t going to classes, something about that scenario would just make me feel used. It’s just a little too convenient for the strikers if no students pay their tuition. Don’t get me wrong, I would be glad not to pay if it was pitched as a way to end the strike sooner. I feel like as it is the student aren’t really being treated as active members to be dealt with, they’re just a self-interested chip to gamble.

The sooner those behind-closed-doors negotiations comes to an end the better. I want the faculty to get reasonable working terms, and I want them to have a say in it. I just think that what makes a strike so effective is because is shuts down production. It’s just that the product is the student’s future. Everyone, both faculty and administration should voice their concern and respect for the students because it’s their future on the line.

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