Volume 95, Issue 92

Wednesday, March 27, 2002
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Winners and losers

Editorial Cartoon

Editorial Board 2001-2002

Winners and losers

A four week strike by faculty at Halifax's Dalhousie University finally ended with a tentative agreement between the faculty association and administration late Tuesday evening.

At the conclusion of a strike in which both sides showed a tendency to be stubborn rather than negotiate, there is only one sentiment that can be expressed – it's about time.

The issues of contention concerned faculty salaries and the university's policy of replacing retiring full-time faculty with cheaper part-time staff. There has also been no increase in the number of faculty hired to compensate for Dalhousie's steadily increasing enrolment.

Both sides claimed to have had the student's best interests at heart, but that hardly seemed like the case when you consider the strike cost students in a slew of areas.

Dalhousie students watched their tuition fees evaporate, interest on their OSAP loans increase and the potential for summer jobs fade away – in addition to enduring four weeks of not receiving the education they paid for.

The university has previously said, in the case of a resolution, they intend to compress, as opposed to extend, the semester. The fact remains though, there is just no way to condense an entire course neatly into a significantly down-sized semester. Even as the strike now ends, it is still the students who suffer.

Because of a lack of compromise on the part of both the faculty and administration, the provincial government had to step in and appoint a mediator. Considering the funding and intellectual base that universities have at their disposal, the government should never have had to resort to such means.

One has to wonder why the university administration would allow this strike to begin at all considering how damaging it could be to their public image. What student will want to take the chance of enroling at Dalhousie when it might take them five years to get a four-year degree due to constant bickering?

Because Canada is already losing many excellent professors to the United States, universities need to be competitive in their recruitment. When part-time professors make a pittance in relation to the time and cost they have spent getting their degree, it's not surprising they take advantage of the extra funding available in the U.S..

Throughout the strike, the Dalhousie Student Union hesitated to pick sides. Why wasn't the DSU sending letters to major newspapers around the country denouncing both sides for defrauding students of their tuition? Discouraging prospective students from attending the university would have made both the administration and faculty take notice.

In the end, as the month long battle finally draws to a close and both sides shake hands "winners," it remains the Dalhousie students who have suffered the integral losses.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002