Lauren Edwards chose Nipissing University to complete her fifth year in the Masters Program this fall.
She never expected that a strike could impact her final year of school.
“I got other acceptances (other universities) but I chose to stay here because of the professors I’ve been working with and the experience I knew would be guaranteed,” said the Midland, Ontario native.
Edwards is leading a handful of Nipissing University students that are doing a sit-in right in University President Dr. Mike Degagne’s office.
“We have our sleeping bags, pillows, tooth brushes, we will be here until Dr. Degagne promises to go back to the table make a fair deal with the professors and we get to go back into our classrooms,” said Edwards in an interview with BayToday.ca Monday morning.
Unfortunately for the students, Degagne was not at the school this morning, so their meeting will be Tuesday.
“Hopefully he is in the office tomorrow and we can get a chance to talk to him about some of the key issues,” said Edwards.
The President did take the time to give a statement about the sit-in.
“I am empathetic to our students during the faculty strike, which is strategically timed to have maximum impact on students,” said Dr. Degagne in an email.
“This sit in makes me proud of our students. Critical thinking and civic engagement are vitally important elements that students gain from attending university. I look forward to meeting with the students as soon as possible to listen to their concerns and offer the university’s perspective.”
NUFA President Susan Srigley was excited when she heard about the student sit-in initiative.
"We know the students at the sit-in support us because faculty do an excellent job in the classroom. The recent Maclean's ranking gives Nipissing professors top marks in student satisfaction,” said Srigley.
"We have close relationships with our students. Nipissing is rated highly as a school where professors know their names. The students and the faculty both want to keep it that way.”
Regardless of the news of the sit in, or the large union rally which took place Friday outside the university, Degagne insists the last offer to the faculty was fair.
“We are committed to returning to the negotiating table as soon as the faculty bargaining team are ready to present a fair offer that includes some meaningful changes for us to consider,” added Degagne.
Edwards says only eight students have stepped up so far in the sit-in process but she's expecting more students coming forward the rest of the week, unless talks resume before that.