A student perspective on the strike

As a new term started at Mount Allison, no one expected strike action to be so severe, despite the tensions brewing. Ongoing discussions between the faculty union and the university administration have failed and the strike has gone ahead.

This is not the first time I have seen strike action and from my time seeing it happen, it is not pretty. The second term of my first year at the University of Kent was disrupted in a humongous manner when professors went on strike. Kent faculty went on strike again in December 2019 and will strike a third time for two weeks starting Feb. 20, 2020. Here it is showcasing the broken relationships between faculty and that specific administration.

The bells of resemblance are ringing to this situation here at Mt. A. What is also very apparent in the current circumstances in the small town of Sackville, N.B., is the lack of attention towards student views and how we feel about the strike.

I want to start by saying that I do NOT blame the faculty for striking. There are a variety of reasons why they are striking. Professors aren’t striking to take time off teaching, marking essays or researching; they are addressing a severe issue. From what I have seen in particular, the professors who have taught me are exceptionally passionate about what they do and a lot of them do not want to be outside in the freezing cold holding banners and asking for action. Striking was the last resort.

However, there is not enough information about student interests and what we want to be done. With professors striking for who knows how long, Mount Allison students should have some of our tuition fees paid back to us for the lack of teaching and class time. Canadian students at Mt. A pay around $8,770 in tuition each year and international students pay a staggering $18,130. During this strike we will still be paying these immense fees, despite no teaching and no faculty departments being open.

This is quite frankly ludicrous!

We make this University – students contribute to this University the same way professors and faculty do. When we pay to go to university – especially the number 1 undergrad university in Canada – we expect to be taught five days a week. The fact that professors are striking, which is without any fault to them, means we are no longer getting that promise.

I am fed up with the university institution itself, both here in Canada and the United Kingdom, for the way it is treating faculty and students. We are not consumers; we are people. Enough is enough! I want to write this because someone has to be thinking the same idea as me but is too scared about causing tensions.

Screw the tensions and let us be heard!

We demand action because we should NOT be paying fees that are so high when there is a lack of teaching during the strike period. I am calling for MASU to voice this anger because this organization is here for this exact purpose – to express the concerns of students and to have a voice here at Mount Allison. They have released a press release on this situation and they are remaining neutral during this strike period. Further to this, whenever this period ends, they want to advocate a tuition rebate. I know this will be challenging and the MASU, from what I have seen, have done a terrific job here and it seems they have their priorities straight.

Stand united with me to have your voice heard during this uncertain time here at Mount Allison.

Hamish Hallett
Hamish Hallet is a contributor to the Argosy.