Students at Acadia sit down
By Karena Walter
Students at Acadia University in Nova Scotia resorted to a peaceful sit-in Monday to protest the possibility of a strike by the school's faculty.
The school's administration and faculty union have had difficulty negotiating an agreement which students fear will result in the faculty calling a strike within a few weeks.
"Students held a peaceful protest to demonstrate the students' conviction that neither the [Acadia University Faculty Association] or the Acadia University Board of Governors has made sufficient effort to negotiate the ninth agreement," said Acadia Students' Union President Paul Black.
The sit-in took place in University Hall, which houses both the administrative offices and the faculty union. Black said over 700 students joined the protest through the course of the day and a petition was circulated.
Black added talks between the administration and faculty broke down twice and haven't been on since a provincial concilliator joined talks on Jan. 5 and stayed for less than 48 hours. "We're maintaining as neutral a stance as possible."
A collective agreement between the faculty and the administration has gone through conciliation, but nothing has been signed yet, said the director of the office of public affairs, Bruce Cohoon. The university is hopeful the faculty will sign the latest offer anytime but expects it to be in a few weeks, he said.
"One of the ways students showed their concern was with a very peaceful, very orderly sit-in."
The Board's final offer will now be voted on at a faculty meeting Tuesday and a strike vote could follow, Black said.
Cohoon said the president of the university and president of the faculty union were available to students yesterday in Convocation Hall for a three-hour question and anwer session. "Any exchange of questions and answers and ideas is good," Cohoon said.
"People may not have gotten the answers they wanted to hear, but they got answers," Black said, adding that the session was helpful.
Yesterday's sit-in was part of ongoing efforts by students to encourage the university to avoid a strike. Over 500 students are withholding their second-term tuition fees. As well, they are asking for a $200 rebate for all Acadia Advantage students those who bought laptop computers as part of their curriculum. Faculty have taken action to show they are not happy with the way negotiations are going by withdrawing the use of computers in classrooms since Jan. 5, Black said.