York Federation of Students establishes relief fund for students

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The York Federation of Students has opened its wallet and established a $40,000 relief fund for frustrated York students who have been financially affected by the ongoing labour dispute at the university.

Undergraduate students can apply for a maximum of $100 towards costs incurred during the strike including lost wages, travel expenses, rent and childcare.

“The relief fund was set up because … we want to make sure that students don’t get left behind during this ongoing labour dispute,” YFS VP-equity Krisna Saravanamuttu said.

“This disruption has brought about serious financial hardships for our students,” Saravanamuttu continued. “It’s important to recognize that there are certain groups of students that have been impacted more than other groups.”

Saravanamuttu asserted the fund was for all undergraduate students; however, he highlighted the significant financial challenges faced by international students and students with children.

The YFS has received hundreds of requests for relief in just the first two days and is expecting to receive more before the application deadline on Jan. 30.

Despite the high demand, Saravanamuttu expressed confidence that all deserving students who apply for the relief will be accommodated.

“We do have more money in our reserves and if the $40,000 runs out the YFS board will be more than willing to reconsider and re-evaluate the situation at that time.”

Western’s University Students’ Council also has a reserve fund for unforeseen circumstances, according to Matt Kington, VP-finance for the USC. However, in the event of a similar strike at Western the USC would not be so quick to open their coffers.

“The USC does have an emergency fund but this fund is dedicated to ensuring that, in the event of an emergency, the USC is able to maintain services it has promised to students.

“Should the [teaching assistants] go on strike at Western, remittance of any funds would be the responsibility of [the university] not the USC,” Kington said.

Despite starting the winter semester without classes, there is a ray of hope on the horizon for disgruntled York students.

The 3,340 contract faculty, graduate assistants and teaching assistants who have been on strike since early November will vote on the university’s latest offer at a Toronto hotel this coming Monday and Tuesday. If the offer is ratified regular classes could resume later that week.

However, the Canadian Union of Public Employees local 3903 " which represents the striking workers " is organizing a strong campaign against the offer, which would see York staff receive a 9.25 per cent raise and increased benefits over three years.

To date, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Liberal minister of training, colleges and universities John Milloy have said the two sides need to settle the strike themselves.

“I’ve urged and encouraged both sides to resolve [the labour dispute] as quickly as possible and we [will] continue to do that,” Milloy said to The Globe and Mail.

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette