Threat of faculty strike adds to already stressful year for Dalhousie students
Published Tuesday, October 20, 2020 11:18PM ADT
HALIFAX -- Studying has been especially isolating this year and COVID-19 means most classes at Halifax's Dalhousie University are online.
Compound that with the possibility of a faculty strike, and there is a lot of uncertainty among students.
"It would definitely kind of add more insult to injury to the student body," said third-year student Ayrton Johnson.
Conciliation talks between the faculty and university have reached an impasse and a strike could happen as soon as Nov. 5.
The sticking point is pension reform.
"They’re willing to throw students, faculty, the entire university community into disarray over this issue we’ve been telling them for 20 years we’re not prepared to accept," said David Westwood, president of the Dalhousie Faculty Association.
Jasmine Walsh is the assistant vice-president of human resources at the university.
"Our strongest wish is to get back into the room with them so we can engage in further conversation," Walsh said. "There’s still lots to talk about."
The Dalhousie Student Union says it supports faculty, noting its working conditions are the students' learning conditions.
"We’re on the side of the students," said Madeleine Stinson, president of the Dalhousie Student Union.
But the union has also been flooded with messages from overwhelmed students
"Students are dealing with increases in fees, they’re adjusting to online learning, they’re taking care of themselves and their mental health and are now facing concerns of a potential strike, which of course stresses students out," Stinson said.
Catherine Thompson is supposed to graduate from her master’s program in December.
"I think having a strike could impact my ability to graduate on time, which is extremely stressful," Thompson said.
The faculty association says it proposed delaying bargaining for a year in light of COVID-19, but the university refused.
The two sides are scheduled to sit down again on Nov. 3.
A strike could start two weeks from Thursday.