Over 55,000 students are held “hostages” by CUPE 3903 and York University

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York University’s TA strike came as expected. Just like the strike in 2008, the entire campus is shut down. Students will be out of school for, who knows how long.

I suppose this is not a surprise for many people. York has a reputation of labor disruptions, all in the name of creating a better school for the students. Just look at one of the most-seen strike slogans this time: our teaching conditions are your learning conditions. It would appear that the strike is some kind of holy crusade entirely dedicated to the cause of the students.

However, the truth is, students’ interests are the only issues that are not on the bargaining table. No one, neither the union nor the university, ever bothers to ask how this strike would affect the students. As someone who (unfortunately) lived through the 2008 strike, I felt compelled to voice what I think.

First and foremost, students are the biggest victims here. Since we are already halfway through the winter term, the cancellation of all classes means only one thing when the strike is resolved: the term will be extended into what’s originally supposed to be the summer break. For those who plan to graduate and get into the workforce; those who already secured a summer job or internship; or those who made vacation or travel arrangements; you are out of luck. All your schedules will most likely have to be postponed. Already bought your plane tickets? Well, you might want to call your travel agency and figure out how to get a refund. The point is, whatever nice plan you made for the summer, it is going to be affected. And I do not expect the university will issue any tuition refund. Last time York gave out “tuition credit”, which students could use toward paying for courses in the following year. The problem is, many students were already in the final year and would not need any more courses. What happened to their credits? No one knew and no one cared because most people were just glad they still graduated.

Secondly, among students, international students are hit the hardest. On top of their already ridiculously expensive tuition fees, they also need to pay for food, accommodation, and other necessary expenses. The delay of the term will only increase their financial burdens. Not to mention the fact that international students spend most of the year living alone in a new country, and summer is the only time in which they can travel back and visit families. Time taken away from summer is time stolen from their precious family moments. This, in my opinion, is simply unfair.

Canada is a democratic country. The right to strike for a better employment condition is protected by the Constitution, and I completely respect it. If you are striking for higher wages and more job security, just say so. Do not make it sound like you are doing it for the students. Because students are clearly the group that is forgotten here.

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