The views expressed in this article are solely of the author alone and do not reflect the official position of The Athenaeum or the Acadia Students’ Union.
Dear AUFA and the Board of Governors,
Please do not strike.
There remain only a handful of weeks before the Acadia University Faculty Association’s (AUFA) strike deadline of Monday November 27th. The following days will be crucial to achieving a productive agreement between the Board and AUFA.
Students attend university for an education. We chose to attend Acadia because we believe in what it stands for: equality, fairness, and opportunity. Each student here should have the opportunity to learn and be the best person they can be. Simply put: a strike right before exams will make that impossible.
This is not to say that we do not hear the concerns of the faculty. These concerns affect us too. With less full time faculty that means there are less courses available for students to take. Without pay equity and bringing salaries up to the regional average it means that amazing professors have little incentive to stay at Acadia. Without the professors who make our university experience exceptional it becomes impossible for our university to maintain its core commitment to small classes and quality education.
To AUFA, we hear you.
Although the Board of Governors has given very little information, we can presume that the Board is concerned with money. Students understand this. Often we’re eating from pots of KD and looking through the couch for toonies to help fund groceries for the week. The Board is in charge of all finances, from student services, to residence, faculty, and the balancing act itself is a challenge. Students pay nearly $7000 a year for an education, $8000 if they’re not from Nova Scotia, and $16,000 if they’re an international student. This is substantially higher than other institutions, and the requests by AUFA may cost students more.
To the Board, we hear you.
A strike is not the answer. The effects of a strike occurring right before exams would be disastrous. Classes end on December 6th, providing an eight-day window between the strike deadline and the theoretical end of classes. The Acadia University Senate would be tasked with deciding how to reorganize the schedule if job action were to occur. Rescheduling would happen after an agreement has been reached, which depending on the length of the job action could happen in the fall or winter semester.
Acadia will suffer in the public eye if there is a strike. In the past 13 years there have been two strikes, 2004 and 2007 respectively. These damaged Acadia’s reputation and enrollment numbers. Now that Acadia has enrollment steadily increasing it is likely that a strike at such a crucial point in the recruitment cycle would have a horrendous impact on new recruits. But the damage wouldn’t stop there. There are current students who have declared they’ll switch schools if there is a strike. This isn’t for dramatic effect- this is to make sure they graduate on time.
I am firmly pro-student in this dispute. I, like many of my friends and colleagues, believe that students are central to the function of a university. However, we are only one part of this vast educational ecosystem. The professors who teach us are crucial to our lifelong learning, and the Board that directs the university helps guide us into a prosperous future. For a settlement to be reached both sides must mutually understand and appreciate the others concerns.
Perhaps I’m an idealist in saying that this can be solved by simply extending the deadline past exams, sitting down, and talking it out. AUFA and the Board have done this time and time again. No doubt it has led to mutual frustration at the inability to reach a deal, but that does not mean an agreement is impossible. If the deadline were to be pushed back until after exams it would give students certainty. They could finish their courses and it would buy AUFA and the Board weeks to hammer out a new agreement.
If job action occurs, students will mobilize. If there is nobody there to teach us, then students will come together and teach one another. If there is nobody there to offer us a hand, we will be there to pick each other up. We will work together to keep up our studies and fight the good fight. We’ll continue through the syllabus, keep up our readings, finish our assignments, and get ahead as best we can.
Students are strong. Acadia students are stronger.