HSAD students unfazed by faculty strike
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer | October 19, 2017|
Although they miss their teachers, students at the Haliburton School of Art and Design are taking a faculty strike in stride.
On Monday morning, the Great Hall was empty and only support and administrative staff were in their offices. But in the studio spaces that serve as classrooms, a few
students could be found diligently working on their projects.
“It sucks,” said Rachel Mills, one of six students in the drawing and painting program who showed up to the campus. However, they said they aren’t upset with their teachers.
“We have amazing teachers,” said student Katie Arens.
After failing to reach a deal with the College Employer Council, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union announced that 12,000 college faculty members were on strike as of 12:01 a.m. Monday. All face-to-face classes and counselling services at all campuses have been suspended for the duration of the strike, states Fleming College’s website.
There are two full-time faculty and about 40 part-time instructors at the Haliburton campus. A total of 104 students are enrolled in the fall semester. The college also has campuses in Lindsay, Peterborough and Cobourg.
The union wants an equal ratio of full-time to contract faculty, more job security for partial-load faculty, and academic freedom to give faculty a stronger voice in
Students at the local campus are fortunate because they are still able to get work done while their teachers are picketing in Peterborough and Lindsay. The campus is
open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“We’re really lucky that they left the school open,” said Arens.
Because the campus is usually very quiet, the students haven’t noticed much of a difference.
Fleming College president Tony Tilly told The Highlander the college anticipated a strike.
“We thought there was a significant likelihood of it as the two sides have been fairly far apart.”
He said the college’s number one concern is the impact on students and faculty.
“Students, as you can imagine, get very anxious,” he said, adding they’re concerned about the length of the strike and the impact on them. “We want to emphasize to them that the college system has existed for 50 years and no student has ever lost a semester because of a strike. We hope they take that as some reassurance.”
The college is asking students to be patient and respect the picket line.
Tilly hopes a negotiated settlement is reached soon. The students said they’d like that, too.
“I want this to be the first day [of the strike] and the last,” said Mills, before putting a few brushstrokes on her painting.
There have been three faculty strikes in the last 50 years, in 1984, 1989 and 2006. Each lasted less than three weeks.
Updates on the strike will be posted to the college’s social media pages. Students can also find information at flemingcollege.ca/faculty-labour-negotiations.
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.