With the Mount Allison Faculty Association’s overwhelming eighty-six per cent in-favour strike vote last week, a clear message to the university administration was sent, a party who seems to me to be nearly oblivious to the fact that there could be a work stoppage even before this article will be published.
While the two sides strive to negotiate, the one group who actually holds the biggest stake in the outcome of the entire process and will be severely impacted by a potential strike has absolutely no representation in the negotiations: students.
Mt. A students are shelling out thousands of dollars annually with many of us becoming riddled with crushing debt simply for the privilege of being here, and having classes cancelled because certain groups cannot be bothered to actually sit down at the negotiating table and work out a solution is absurd and reflects very poorly on the administration and the school.
Many of the core issues at the heart of this bitter disagreement are not based off of salaries and instead concern important changes in avenues such as creative control and property rights, teaching evaluation, and hiring protocols. Indeed, drastic departmental cutbacks stand out in sharp contrast to the repeatedly inconsistent spending habits demonstrated by this institution. All of these factors ultimately have a major impact upon students and the educational experience offered here at Mt. A, yet we have no say in the resolution of these issues and are, in my view, being kept largely in the dark.
The fact that the administration seems to be perfectly fine with having the faculty walk out on them is absolutely egregious. It seems as though they are merely toying with our semesters and the time we pay for out of our own pockets for instruction in and outside of the classroom.
Yet, no one seems willing to take a stand for students, or even discuss what a strike or changes to the collective bargaining agreement and other regulations could mean for us. There is no independent body that is fairly and adequately representing the ones who most of these issues really concern. We have little information to go off of other than biased and doctored press releases and scant emails coming occasionally from the school’s administration. In turn, this leads to rampant speculation among the student body as people try to understand what is going to happen with the future of our education at what is supposedly Canada’s number one undergraduate university.
Simply put, our education is being used as a bargaining chip without our consent.
The issues that are dividing the two parties are ones that directly impact the quality of our education and how we are taught and evaluated here at Mt. A, yet we hold no voice and no power in the process. Furthermore, a prolonged loss of class time due to a strike stands simply to weaken the integrity of the education we are receiving this semester and puts a major dent in our school’s nearly impeccable reputation.
Strike or not, the way that the administration has conducted themselves, using the quality of our education as a poker chip, demonstrates a complete disregard on the part of university administration for the concerns and priorities of the student body and the overall educational process and framework at this school.