Volume 96, Issue 62
Tuesday, January 21, 2003

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On Friday, Jan. 17, Western students received an e-mail from Western administration. The letter informed students that, despite the fact the University of Western Ontario's Faculty Association had voted to authorize their Board of Directors to call a strike if necessary, "This does not mean there will necessarily be a strike, and negotiations will continue unless an impasse is declared."

The Gazette took the liberty to write a response on behalf of all Western students.

To: Office of the Registrar
Subject: Re: Information Update

Dear Western administration,

Thank you for your assurance that "the university is open for business and classes continue as usual." Mind you, we must admit that our intelligence was, at least slightly, insulted. Of course the school is open: the minute it is not, we will head home until you tell us we can come back. Just be aware of the fact that, if there is a lengthy strike, a few of us might decide it is not in our best interest to return.

Thanks to your informative e-mail, the term "strike" is now firmly embedded in the vocabulary of each and every one of us. While some of us were previously aware of – what we thought – was the very small threat of a strike, now we can all start worrying.

Is our graduation in doubt? Will we have to attend class in the summer? Will we get any money back if there is a strike? If the university doesn't refund any money, will the university at least subsidize road trips to Florida?

Only a select number of us know that the three big issues on the bargaining table are salary increases, faculty renewal and faculty workload and that the possibility of a strike is still a fairly distant one.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of us read the words "faculty strike" in our inbox and fear the worst. As Michael Moore pointed out in his documentary Bowling for Columbine, it is far too easy to create a culture of fear and panic when things aren't put in proper context.

Your e-mail said that you will provide us with updates. Do us a favour and spare us the details. Our classes, as you graciously pointed out, are still very much in session and keep us very busy. We have no time to get caught up in the constant mudslinging.

In addition, since we have relatively no say in the outcome of this dispute, knowing the gritty details of what is being debated is really of no use to us. Skip the update approach and channel your efforts into finding a resolution. We'd be more than happy to receive an e-mail telling us you found one.

In the meantime, let us figure out for ourselves whether or not our classes will continue and please do everything you can to stay away from the "S" word.

the Western student body




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