So far there doesn’t seem to be any progress in negotiations between the Vancouver Island University Faculty Association, and the university. VIUFA informed the administration yesterday that it intends to strike. I am still awaiting for VIUFA to return a couple messages, but they posted a release on their website earlier today that carries the headline “Strike Begins Timorrow” (UPDATE: I have now spoken to VIUFA president Dan McDonald, and he confirmedthat the strike will happen “for sure”)
We have come to this position reluctantly (especially since we have been without a contract since April 2010), but with an abiding commitment to our position. We are well aware that money is tight in the public post-secondary sector in BC as the provincial government continues to reduce their share of the costs, forcing tuition fees higher. 1,500 students were caught up in waitlists this year.
In such an environment, we argue, it is even more important to prioritize student access to education since a better-educated community is a recognized stimulus for economic recovery. As both education and living costs become more expensive, it becomes even more vital that students be able to complete their degrees in a timely manner. Inadequate numbers of sections and cuts to courses and faculty all impede students’ access to their chosen fields of study.
A message posted to the university’s website is similarly taking the view that a strike is inevitable:
VIU anticipates that strike action will be underway at all of our campuses early Thursday morning, March 10, 2011.
Meanwhile, students are beginning to panic. According to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, dozens of students rallied against a strike in front of the school’s library. However, despite being worried over their classes being cancelled, students who spoke to the Bulletin were generally supportive of faculty.
“I fully support the teachers, they shouldn’t lay anybody off,” anthropology student Meghan Dalskog said. “It sucks for the faculty, but all in all, it’s the students who get screwed.”
Arts student Tim Balaski was more straightforward in his support. “It’s probably not going to be good in the immediate sense, but I’m for it . . .I’d rather lose some money and have things improve a bit then not take a stand at all,” he said.