If striking teaching assistants and contract faculty accept York University’s contract offer in a vote next week, the 2008-09 academic year will be quickly restarted, according to a senior York official. By immediately returning to work and holding classes without a break until May, the university says it can end the 2008-09 academic year on time.
Bob Drummond, Dean of York University’s Faculty of Arts, tells Maclean’s the university “will not cancel the Fall or Winter terms” unless absolutely necessary and only after it has cancelled summer classes first. He says that is not something the university is close to doing at this point.
However, a look at the calendar shows that if the strike continues for several more weeks, it may only be possible to complete the regular fall/winter, 2008-09 academic year by extending it into June or even July. That could mean the cancellation of the summer term.
The ongoing strike threatens to damage summer employment opportunities and interfere with professional certification exams for the university’s 50,000 students. The 10-week-old labour dispute is on the verge of breaking the York record for longest work stoppage, set when CUPE 3903 hit the picket lines for 11 weeks in 2001.
Striking TAs and contract faculty will cast their ballots next Monday and Tuesday on a contract offer from the university in a vote requested by the university and supervised by the Ministry of Labour.
Depending on the results of that vote, classes at the suburban Toronto campus could resume “as early as Thursday or the following Monday, depending on the decision of the [York] Senate Executive Committee,” says Drummond.
If classes resume, “there will be 13 teaching days to finish the first term and 10 days of exams prior to the beginning of the second term.”
He said the winter term will begin immediately following first term exams, without any break. The term will be 11 weeks long, followed by 10 to 12-day exam period. The university will begin summer courses “as soon as possible” following the completion of the regular academic year, according to Drummond.