With the faculty strike heading into its second week, students concerned by a lack of transparency have formed into a group called Student Strike Headquarters. Their aim is to help foster informed discussion amongst the student body by providing them with facts and context vis-a-vis the faculty strike.
“With so many conflicting stories it’s impossible for us students to make sense of what is going on,” founding member Alex Thomas told The Argosy. “We are creating a huge collaborative project that no student union themselves could ever accomplish.”
The group is constructing a “super document” that brings together the answers to all possible questions that the student body may have regarding the strike in one virtual place. This includes questions regarding past strikes, current negotiations, and effects of this strike on student academics, among other details.The group was born out of a “growing sentiment amongst students that as stakeholders we were being left out of the discussion,” Thomas said.
Mount Allison Student Union (MASU) President Melissa O’Rourke said MASU supports Student Strike Headquarters, and that the work that it is doing adds on to what MASU does. Regarding the detailed approach that the student group was taking while looking for facts concerning the strike, O’Rourke added that the, “[MASU] can do that to a certain extent but at the same time we’re still running an organization which can definitely complicate things.” She said that MASU had offered the Student Strike Headquarters space inside their offices, but the group rejected the offer.
Thomas said that Student Strike Headquarters felt that MASU did not have the human resources to investigate this particular issue to a depth that his organization hopes to do and they are helping fill that void. Another reason given by founding member Erik Sin for the formation of a separate group to voice student concerns was that “A lot of students felt alienated from the MASU.” Thomas explained that they believe it is easier for students to approach an organization that is horizontal, like Student Strike Headquarters, as opposed to approaching a hierarchically structured organization.
Student Strike Headquarters said that their intention is to assist students in getting informed and engaging with these issues, and they could not have done so if they had gotten involved with MASU. Sin said it seemed like a lot of students feel disappointed and dissatisfied with the MASU’s actions during the strike.
“There seems to be a sense on campus of disenfranchisement from the MASU, and because of that we thought we would be more approachable if we were outside the realm of the MASU,” Thomas said. “We are certainly not anti-MASU, but we’re filling a gap that needs to be filled.” another founding member Makyla Walerickton added.
Both the administration and faculty association have said they support the group’s efforts to keep students informed and engaged.