Volume 93, Issue 60

Tuesday, January 18, 2000


Editorial Board 1999-2000

Need for greed

Editorial cartoon

Need for greed

Look out Chuck Woolery, you're about to meet the dream team of Greed.

The University of Toronto's administration made a bold move on Saturday, in the midst of a walk out by striking Teaching Assistants. Forty-seven classes which were taught by TAs were cancelled, sending students in a frantic search for alternate courses in order to not fall behind. While admin has offered alternate classes, extended their add/drop period and will refund students who remain a course short, it's not enough.

By eliminating courses taught by TAs, they have effectively stripped the strikers of their main bargaining tool. There is no longer any pressure for administration to settle – they'll be able to manage without the TAs and no longer have to worry about their demands for pay equity. But while they sit back and enjoy a relative sigh of relief, students are left gasping for air, missing out on prerequisite classes and the attention their high-priced education deserves.

Some may argue that as a business, administration's move was brilliant. They have twisted the strike around and put the TAs in the precarious position of needing them, not the other way around. However, when the ramifications of this action are considered and when the argument is stripped down to its simplest form, it becomes hard to applaud their tactics.

The TAs are striking for equal rights. They aren't demanding exorbitant salaries, they aren't asking for shiny cars to take them around campus, they are asking for their services to be recognized as equal to all other TA programs in the country.

They are also asking for help – it doesn't take a mathematician to figure out that an average annual salary of $4,100 simply doesn't cover a tuition of $5,100. And after four months of maintaining their duties without a contract, no one can accuse them of being impatient.

Most importantly, they are fighting for what should be the fundamental belief of each student – that education is a right and not a privilege. Students are up in arms every time tuition is hiked, storming Parliament Hill and damning the capitalist movement. Why is it so wrong for a certain group to protest their concerns on a smaller scale?

Striking does not help the interest of the average student, but it is important to remember these people are students too. They have to look out for themselves. It is not in their job description to uphold the best interests of the students at all times – administration is supposed to answer this call.

It would best serve students to settle this strike now. Therefore, this should be on the top of administration's list – not finding a way around the problem which diminishes the quality of their students' education. If other universities in Canada, which are experiencing the same cuts to funding, can find a way to create an equal environment for their TAs, why is it such an impossible situation for U of T?

The answer, it seems, can be found in one of television's most popular game shows.

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