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UPEI students divided as faculty takes strike action March 20



CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — College students on the College of Prince Edward Island are divided after the college’s college walked off the job March 20.

College members shaped picket traces alongside the three entrances to the college’s grounds after negotiations between the UPEI College Affiliation and the college’s administration fell via.

Many college students remained on campus to check and carry on observe with their course work, however those that agreed to be interviewed by SaltWire Community had been break up on the choice to take strike motion.

“From the scholars’ perspective, I really feel like we must be upset concerning the strike as a result of we’re shedding our training time,” stated Annik Whiten, a third-year psych scholar,

“A whole lot of us, particularly third- and fourth-year college students, we’ve been at school since COVID, so that is the primary yr for lots of us to have in-person lessons. Now it is being taken away once more.”

Points since COVID

Whiten stated most of the college students who’ve been at school since 2020 have already spent two years of their lecturers in on-line lessons and instructing themselves. She stated for these college students, having the little little bit of in-person training time they’ve had this yr taken from them doesn’t give them a lot hope for his or her futures.

“It’s somewhat nerve-racking, as a result of I really feel like a variety of us haven’t discovered loads,” stated Whiten.

“I wish to assist folks in my future job, however I really feel prefer it’s going to be tough being out within the workforce when the professors haven’t actually given us a variety of training at this level.”

Whiten stated college students appear to be caught in the midst of a feud between college and the college’s administration, with one aspect saying one factor and the opposite conveying a special message. Whereas professors are telling college students they’re combating for the advantages of the scholars, she stated the college is speaking about elevating tuition.

“It looks like we actually received’t get something out of all this,” stated Whiten.

While classes are not being held at the university during the strike, some students made their way to the W. A. Murphy Student Centre on March 20 to study and stay on track in their courses. Support for the faculty striking is split among the students. Cody McEachern/SaltWire Network
Whereas lessons usually are not being held on the college through the strike, some college students made their option to the W. A. Murphy Scholar Centre on March 20 to check and keep on observe of their programs. Assist for the school hanging is break up among the many college students. Cody McEachern/SaltWire Community

Scholar physique help

Different college students help what the school is doing.

“I really feel it is utterly legitimate. The professors have the suitable to be paid pretty and handled pretty,” stated Catherine Lynne Curtis, a third-year historical past scholar.

Curtis stated the college college is combating for a lot of issues that might profit college students, together with including extra college to decrease the ratio of scholars to professors.

“The trainer to scholar ratio is sort of unbalanced, in order that’s not truthful in any respect,” she stated.

“It causes points when making an attempt to get assist, but additionally within the lessons, since you may very well be on a waitlist, and you actually don’t know if you find yourself getting in.”

The bargaining state of affairs and the strike have left some college students confused about marks, exams and even commencement, one thing Curtis stated she has heard from others. Nonetheless, she stated except college students have a prerequisite they have to obtain to advance to the subsequent yr, college students shouldn’t fear.

Nonetheless, that added stress has college students break up on what aspect they help, stated Curtis

“A few of my mates are tremendous towards the school happening strike, however I’m utterly for it, so I simply maintain quiet,” she stated.

“It’s undoubtedly placing a number of the college students towards the professors pondering they’re simply being egocentric, however they’re actually not. The administration ought to most undoubtedly go along with what the school needs, in my view.”

Michael Arfken, president of the UPEI Faculty Association, says after the union's last meeting with university administration on Feb. 28, no more meetings for negotiations were granted. Instead, he says administration told the union all proposals would be sent via email. Cody McEachern/SaltWire Network
Michael Arfken, president of the UPEI College Affiliation, says after the union’s final assembly with college administration on Feb. 28, no extra conferences for negotiations had been granted. As a substitute, he says administration instructed the union all proposals can be despatched by way of e mail. Cody McEachern/SaltWire Community

Not keen to satisfy

As for these on the picket line, it may very well be a while earlier than they arrive again on the negotiation desk.

Michael Arfken, president of the UPEIFA, stated negotiations broke down between the college and the union following their final assembly on Feb. 28.

“On the finish of that assembly, we requested them verbally if we might schedule extra conferences and so they didn’t reply to that,” he stated.

“Since then, we’ve despatched them 4 letters requesting conferences, and what they’ve made clear is that they really feel they’ve negotiated with us sufficient. What they’ve stated now could be they’re solely going to do that via e mail, which isn’t negotiating.”

SaltWire Community contacted UPEI’s administration to verify whether or not it has refused to satisfy in particular person, however a solution was not obtained by press time.

Since taking strike motion, Arfken stated the union has had no communication with the college, one thing some within the union are involved will proceed into the times and weeks forward.

“Our concern is the employer may be holding out till the tip of the election within the hopes that the federal government that’s elected can be keen to legislate us again to work,” he stated.

Arfken stated he want to see the events working on this election marketing campaign not solely declare their future plans for UPEI ought to they be elected but additionally declare they might not legislate the school members to return to work.

As of two p.m. on March 20, solely the P.E.I. Inexperienced occasion and the P.E.I. NDP have made that declaration.

A chronic strike shouldn’t be one thing the school needs, stated Arfken, because it places stress on each college students and academics who’re not capable of lead their school rooms whereas the strike is ongoing.

“That’s the place they wish to be. They wish to be instructing and so they wish to end off the semester. I believe that is likely one of the extra nerve-racking elements of this,” stated Arfken.

“Nonetheless, if the employer shouldn’t be keen to satisfy us on the desk, there may be not a lot we will do. We’re hopeful that’s going to occur, that they’re going to come to their senses, however at this level, it is actually out of our arms.”

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