Dear Acadia Student Leadership,
We know Acadia students started this weekend with the imminent strike on their minds. Our professors have spoken to us in class, content about it is circulating on social media, and the ASU has been keeping us informed via emails and Q&A’s throughout the week. As the party perhaps most invested in the wellbeing of this campus, students have a right and obligation to be aware of current negotiations and advocate for our interests. However, doing so takes a mental and emotional toll on us: one that we’re already beginning to feel.
A strike has not even begun yet, but we can all sense palpable tension on campus—not only the political friction we’re all acutely aware of between the Acadia administration and AUFA, but also the apprehension from students whose last few weeks this semester are uncertain. We all feel on some level the instability, uncertainty and lack of cohesion that the imminent strike has brought with it into our community.
Students have a right and obligation to own their role as critical stakeholders in the proceedings that are unfolding before us between AUFA and the administration. However, doing so inevitably gives emphasis in all of our minds to a serious fracture in the integrity of our community. In the face of this, we also have a right and obligation to preserve and protect the integrity of our campus community in every way that we can: we must continue to care, connect and come together as a community.
Though this coming week may begin with a strike, the rest of the week is filled with an astronomical amount of student programming that presents an opportunity to connect and engage with one another in a way that builds Acadia up, not that emphasizes its failings. We have a week’s worth of events for Chill Week next week; a cookie handout from Community Outreach Acadia on Monday; Sex Toy Bingo on Tuesday; Acadia Gets Checked Wednesday; the Peer Support Coffeehouse on Friday, and more. All of these events promote involvement, wellness, and connectedness amongst the Acadia student body. That is what we should be emphasizing in the face of a strike this week.
Acadia’s current situation, as troubling as it is, has a silver lining: we are being presented with an opportunity to form stronger ties to our community and to each other in the face of a shared difficulty, and show that, despite the deep concern and apprehension we all feel, the connectedness within our community is stronger.
The outcome of these negotiations will be decided eventually. As we’re all aware, a strike could damage the university’s reputation and student enrolment, among many other things. The concern over the fiscal damage this could cause is certainly great, but should not overshadow the concern for community morale and cohesion, which we should address just as rigorously. Regardless of the outcome of the negotiations and any fiscal impact it may or may not have on the university, our sense of community would still suffer if we meet this fracture with anything less than active efforts to build it back up.
As student leaders, we have a renewed purpose to, more than ever, deliberately and conscientiously promote care and connection in the midst of a difficult time for the Acadia community. Some concrete steps to take:
Promote student engagement opportunities. This is something all students can do regardless of role. RAs and House Councils particularly can share upcoming events with your residents, or arrange to attend as a group.
Be prepared to answer questions about negotiations and the strike. Students will have questions about what’s going to happen next week. Make sure to have as much concrete and factual information on hand as possible to avoid sensationalizing or exaggerating ongoing tension.
Host or help out with an event. Even if you don’t host one yourself, the IOs and clubs with events coming up this week could certainly use all the help we can get!
We hope AUFA and the administration come to a speedy resolution. In the meantime, we know what we need to do.
Jenna Purkis, Coordinator, Acadia Mental Health Initiative
Paige Krentz, Coordinator, Acadia Women’s Centre