Update from Osgoode students - Macleans.ca

Update from Osgoode students

Law caucus decides to reflect the will of their members and resume classes

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I’ve had reports from two Osgoode students thus far, one who intends to cross the picket line and one who does not. Both wish to remain anonymous. A summary of their reports is as follows:

The Osgoode student caucus (their representative structure) surveyed the student body and found students were strongly in favour of resuming classes. For that reason, the caucus felt obligated to represent their will.

Concern is very strong regarding how students will be accommodated who choose not to resume classes, as is their right under Senate policy (see the second page). A special meeting is being held off campus on the evening of December 3rd with an Assistant and an Associate Dean of Osgoode for those students.

Part of the issue, here, is that standards for graduation are not in Osgoode’s (or York’s) hands alone. The Law Society of Upper Canada ultimately licenses lawyers in Ontario and thus Osgoode must observe their requirements as well as its own rules.

This issue has been very divisive among students. Some are ideologically aligned with union politics, but among this group there are those who feel this strike has been handled so badly that they aren’t inclined to observe it. Others … well, let’s just say that despite its reputation, Osgoode has its fair share of corporate-oriented law students. They are understandably less conflicted about this and simply want to get back to class.

For myself, I’ll add this commentary. I respect the decision of the Osgoode caucus to reflect the will of their members. I’d do the same in their place, even as I wouldn’t personally cross the line. I find it interesting, however, that the student consensus is so strongly in favour of crossing a picket line. It makes me wonder how much of Osgoode’s reputation for progressive politics is deserved, if it dissipates so easily in the face of paying a price for it. I do not have exact numbers from the survey, however, and I’d love some.

The most significant outstanding question is how students will be accommodated if they don’t cross. I think it’s unconscionable that Osgoode isn’t officially meeting with these students until three days after classes resume. It’s a firm statement about where their priorities are at. And I suspect it’s a deliberate pressure tactic, to push as many students back to class as possible.

If this goes on long enough, I’ll seek direct commentary from the Law Society on the consequences that students face if their year is too severely disrupted. And I also anticipate some reporting from within that Dec. 3 meeting, should we get that far.

Expect another update either tomorrow or on Monday, when I’ve got a well-placed student who is willing to go on the record. Students who will not cross the line are apparently meeting tomorrow evening to discuss the issue amongst themselves.

As always, I hope for the sake of all students affected that this strike ends soon and my updates never appear. But with the failure of provincial mediation, that doesn’t appear likely at the moment.

Questions and comments are welcome at jeff.rybak@utoronto.ca. In particular, I’d love to hear from more Osgoode students, and I respect your right to communicate off the record if you like. I’ll summarize your opinions as I have done with this update.