Faculty protest could damage students’ jobs

Walking (not busing) home from campus yesterday, I had two thoughts about the weather: 1) You know you’ve lost your Ontarian edge when -15 C forces you to seriously consider moving to Australia, and 2) I would not want to be part of a picket line in this disgusting weather.

I’m willing to bet that our professors don’t relish the thought either.

My first reaction upon hearing of the possibility of a Dalhousie faculty strike was extreme anguish. Anguish over all the work I have already put into this semester, over the thought of having to (gulp) extend this school year into the summer, and over the directionless, TV-filled abyss into which I foresaw my life plummeting.

My face grew pale to hear of the infamous York University strike, in which (depending on who you ask) students either had their school year extended well into the summer, or were asked to repeat the semester with no refund to their tuition.

Either scenario poses a huge problem for those who are paying their own way through university. Ask any person and they will tell you that even two weeks of lost summer work can be the difference between spaghetti every night, or spaghetti once a week.

Thankfully, it looks as though my job at the Dalplex pool—where I teach swim lessons and lifeguarding—will go on regardless, because it’s also open to the public. King’s has also announced that their classes will continue to run (as told informally by Dr. Robertson to his second-year Early Modern Studies class, who heard it from Anne Leavitt, King’s president). What a relief!

Interestingly, the most effective strikes seem to be those that inconvenience the greatest amount of people, particularly if those people are shelling out $7,000 per year to keep that place of employment running. As with the city’s transit and so with the school: it is unfortunate and necessary that a strike affects not only the two parties in negotiations, but a third and angry party that renders a strike particularly effective.

I don’t want to be part of this party. Nor, I’m sure, does anyone else. However, I’m sure there is not a single professor who would rather be out holding a sign in the cold than in a classroom, doing the job they (hopefully) love.

The right to strike plays an important role in keeping our society as fair as possible. Selfishly, I am irate. But the more magnanimous side of me knows that this is one shitty aspect of believing in an even playing ground.

Anyways, I get dibs on Downton Abbey at Video Difference. My city is going on strike.


  1. Chelsea on February 15, 2012 at 12:42 am

    What is preventing the TAs from “teaching” while they are on strike? They are not part of the Union, and it would benefit the students greatly when classes finally resume and everything gets packed into a short period of time. I have heard a prof literally say that they would not let their TA hold class because that lessens their effect of striking, thus proving they don’t really care all that much about the students.

    • Calum Agnew on February 15, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      It is quite likely that the many of the university’s facilities (almost certainly libraries) will be closed down in the event of a strike; there may not be physical space to teach.

      • Fosterd3 on February 15, 2012 at 4:51 pm

        Not according to the Dal website. They say most facilities will still be open, including the library.

        • Online Editor for Dal Gazette on February 16, 2012 at 2:28 am

          There’s some question of that, apparently. We’re getting conflicting accounts from different departments (facilities, varsity sports, etc). When we get answers beyond “weeeeelllllll…” we’ll have some more comprehensive posts up on it. Reporters are working on the sports facilities, arts departments, and online infrastructures (Owl & email, mostly). No one’s digging into just the library yet, but I’ll pass it on to the News team.

      • Anon on February 15, 2012 at 8:14 pm

        It doesn’t look like physical space will be a problem. Direct from the Negotiations at Dal blog:

        Will the university close? – No. Most administrative and student services would continue to operate in a strike, including residences, libraries, Help Desk support, Registrar’s Office, Student Accounts, Dalplex and other recreation facilities, the International Centre and more.


    • Martha on February 17, 2012 at 3:16 am

      It’s not so much that they don’t care about their students, but if a professor is found to be allowing their TAs to teach their classes during their strike, they will be denied their strike pay. I would assume that for most professors, that would be the deciding factor.

    • Kaley on March 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      TAs teaching would mean they were scabs in this strike. That doesn’t go over well with a group of people who are also part of a union and whose working conditions are poor to say the least.

      If you want this strike to end, tell the university! The university saves money every day that the workers are on strike, while the professors don’t get paid (so are losing money). When students support faculty and call on the administration to bargain in good faith, they have been able to avoid strikes or have them settle quickly.

  2. Kaley on March 4, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    This headline is wicked misleading.

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Samantha Elmsley

Samantha was Opinions Editor of the Gazette for Volumes 145 and 146.