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York strike turns ugly
By Aaron Wherry
Talks have broken off at York University and a resolution to the five-week-old strike seems further away than ever.
On Tuesday, York's Senate executive delivered an e-mail memorandum to all students explaining the reversal of previous plans to hold replacement classes during the December exam period, said Bob Drummond, the chair of York's Senate.
He said the university had planned to hold concurrent classes and exams during the next few weeks to recoup cancelled classes as a result of the 2,000 striking teaching assistants, graduate assistants and contract faculty.
Drummond said scheduling concurrent classes and exams from Dec. 5 through Dec. 21 was unfeasible and would have caused too many problems for students.
He added he was unsure when cancelled classes would be made up, but said York's reading week break, scheduled for the week of Feb. 12, has already been cancelled by the Senate in hopes of using the period to make-up for lost classes.
Spokesperson for Canadian Union of Public Employees 3903, Michael Ma, said the Senate's latest move was indicative of an unwillingness on the part of the university administration to settle the work stoppage.
"The negative aspect is that it suggests they're willing to wait until January to settle the strike," he said.
But Sine MacKinnon, a spokesperson for York University, said it was the union who refused to budge from their current stance and forced an end to the negotiations.
She explained the university's negotiating team was willing to continue talks, but only if the union would be willing to make concessions.
Still, hostility on the part of strikers towards administration has only grown, Ma explained. "Our suspicions have been confirmed. Administration is just evil."
Hasrat Gafoor, president of the York Federation of Students, said a mass rally has been planned for today to protest the university's refusal to refund students for classes cancelled by the strike.
He said he remained unsure of what the future held for students at York. "It's hard to say how it's going to finish someone is going to have to back down."
Mackinnon said administration will not be issuing tuition refunds because the university still plans to make-up cancelled classes in the future. "The university has always said we are committed to completing the term. Unfortunately it may take awhile."