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College students at risk in faculty strike says College Student Alliance

Whether a student is in their first semester or their last, they’re going to feel the severity of this strike, says alliance president
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TORONTO - Members of the College Student Alliance (CSA) and students across Ontario are frustrated a collective agreement has not been reached between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the College Employers Council (CEC), resulting in full-time college faculty striking as of 12:01 a.m. Monday, Oct. 16. Students are the at-risk party in this dispute between administration and faculty. College students urge negotiating parties to return to the bargaining table and reach an agreement immediately. 

Negotiations between OPSEU and CEC have been unsuccessful since July, creating an increasingly uncomfortable situation for students. The last faculty strike was in March 2006 and lasted 18 days. Though college students have never lost a semester due to a faculty strike, it is a concern students have repeatedly vocalized to student associations and to CSA. There is no guideline on how long a strike can last which is a frightening reality for students who are financially and academically at risk.

“Lost class time, especially a lost semester, can result in delayed graduation,” said Joel Willett, the president of CSA. “Whether a student is in their first semester or their last, they’re going to feel the severity of this strike.” 

An agreement must be reached. Both OPSEU and CEC have claimed they are putting students first with their current proposals, but have also stated publicly they are still far from coming to a deal. It is this type of uncertainty that is making students feel hopeless given where they are in the semester and how difficult it would be to fully recover from a prolonged strike. 

“Students don’t want to be put in the middle of negotiations or to be used as pawns. They want to be in the classroom receiving the education they’ve invested heavily in,” said Willett.