Based on history, the president of Fleming College in Peterborough says students should not be overly anxious about a strike by faculty at his college and 23 other Ontario colleges.
“No one in the 50-year history of the college system has lost a semester because of a strike,” said Tony Tilly on Monday.
“That’s really important. So even when you feel very edgy, anxious, you should keep that longer view in mind.”
More than 300 professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians at Fleming’s campuses in Peterborough, Lindsay, Cobourg and Haliburton are among the 12,000 staff on strike. Key issues remain wages, job protection and a balance of full-time and contract faculty.
Liz Mathewson, president of OPSEU local 352 faculty union, believes many students support the job action.
“They know; they understand the issues, ” she said.
“They know we’re out here for them. Our work conditions are their learning conditions and they know we’re out here fighting for quality education.”
The last strike was by support staff in 2006 which lasted nearly three weeks.
“Most of classes, she (instructor) has already posted what we need to do so I’m not too worried about it,” said student Ashley Newell.
“I’m just going to try to get caught up and try to get ahead,” added student Dillan Wigerde.
The lack of available counsellors is a cause for concern for the president of Fleming’s student council.
“Students have now lost the opportunity to have one-on-one counselling when they need it, especially when they’re in crisis,” said Joel Willett.
An online petition launched Monday already has nearly 65,000 signatures demanding a tuition refund if the strike continues for an extended period.
“Students suffer the most, yet we are not part of the conversation,” the petition states. “We lose learning. We lose time. We demand a refund.”
Fleming students are advised to visit the college’s website or social media for updates.
“It’s a difficult experience but if people approach it with maturity and understanding, we’ll get through it together,” said Tilley.