Volume 91, Issue 96

Tuesday, March 31, 1998



Pawn Shopping

For the second year in a row, students approaching their final exam period at a Canadian university are wondering whether they will be able to complete their school year.

The faculty association at Dalhousie University decided to strike last week after failing to reach an agreement with administration.

Sound familiar? Last year around this time, faculty members at York University went on strike as well, wreaking havoc on the lives of students as the strike lasted eight long weeks.

Students were forced to rearrange their living arrangements, their jobs and when summer started for other university students across the country, people at York wondered if they would even have a summer. Some even had doubts that they would get their degree – something they'd worked long and hard for and paid a ton of money to receive.

Now it looks like students at Dalhousie may find themselves in the same situation. It puts a little pressure on reaching an agreement, when you have 15,000 students looking on and wondering why the hell a compromise hasn't been reached as they increasingly become victims. Their lives are being disrupted and ultimately, they are the ones who suffer the most.

And it is wrong that students are powerless when they had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that administration and faculty have yet to come to an agreement?

A small group of Dalhousie students in Halifax are trying to do something by suing both parties, but that will only have a negligible effect on the situation as they have little chance of winning their lawsuits if they go to court. But at least this action brings some attention to the student situation.

It is extremely alarming that faculty strikes are becoming annual events. Students in other parts of the country may sit back, look on and not really worry. But they should – this can happen anywhere.

Take Western for example. The faculty association here just unionized. Although both parties have made a pledge to come to a comprehensive agreement, it is a major undertaking that takes quite a while to achieve. The faculty association contract runs out in July and most likely this agreement won't be finalized by then.

Let's face it, Western's administration is not exactly known for being the most conciliatory bunch to run a university. There is a possibility Western students could be the next group wondering if their school year will ever end.

Hopefully, before things get to that point, those sitting down at the bargaining table will think about the students – the blood and guts of a university. Wouldn't that be a nice change?

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazed@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998