Statement from ASSU Executive:
It has been a long week. Our first and foremost concern as an undergraduate students’ union is undergraduate education. We did not want a strike but at the same time, the ASSU executive supports the members of CUPE 3902. We have released prior statements affirming this commitment; we believe that the deal the university offered did not come close to addressing the grievances of the union members. We stand by this statement, however today’s statement does not pertain to the details of the bargaining process.
We want to see an end to this strike as soon as possible but we are extremely concerned by what we are seeing being done on the part of the university. For one thing, the university has refused to come back to the bargaining table despite the union’s repeated requests to meet immediately. In the words of the university, they are waiting for a provincial meditator to bring both sides back to the table. They can go back to the table now if they want to.
We have also heard some concerning things from our students. First and foremost, we have received multiple reports of professors changing things on their syllabi without a vote. This is against the rules of the Faculty of Arts and Science, which states that in order for changes to occur to a syllabi (for example: changing the grade distribution or changing when things are due), these changes must be approved by a majority of the class. These votes can be taken in person or via secret ballot. There must be a NO option, i.e: an option to keep the syllabus as is. Providing two alternatives does not suffice.
Even if students get to vote – we ask students to exercise caution. Consider whether this is really in your best interest. Keep in mind that by voting for syllabi changes that may dramatically shift the distribution, you may be taking away from the work that a TA would do. Thus, strike breaking and prolonging the strike. Changing the syllabi to accommodate a strike and mark things more heavily may not be in your best interest. Of course, we ask members to use their best judgment and do what they feel is best for them.
The second issue, consists of undergraduates being sought out by departments to conduct TA labour. Students have reported being e-mailed by departments to take up a job, conducting an interview and then finding out afterwards about the nature of the work. We ask our students to be incredibly careful of this. The departments involved in doing this do not have your best interest in mind. As soon as the strike ends, you will be let go and the duration of your work will suggest you were a strikebreaker. This isn’t exactly the best thing to have on you resume. Tricking well-meaning undergrads into accepting scab labour positions without telling them this, is deceiving and unacceptable. We unequivocally condemn this practice.
Once again, tactics like changing the syllabi (with or without consent) and pursuing scab labour merely prolong the strike and take away from your education – constrained evaluations aren’t exactly the definition of a fulfilling experience. Domestic and international students pay over 7,000 and 30,000 respectively in tuition. Do you really want to get less because the university does not want to allocate the money you pay to salaries of those who teach you?
We will keep you updated as always.