Sheridan College’s staff and student body are slowly, yet surely recovering from the recent Ontario-wide college faculty strike that lasted a whole five weeks last fall.
- It began October 15th, 2017, after the College Employer Council and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union were unable to reach a new contract agreement for their workers.
- This resulted in 24 of Ontario’s Colleges, including Sheridan, to go on strike.
- The strike ended on November 19th after the provincial government passed a “back-to-work” legislation, forcing students and faculty to continue the fall semester the following Tuesday on November 21st.
- On December 14th, 2017, Sheridan confirmed the number of full-time students that withdrew from its programs because of the strike were 1,917, a whole 8.5% of it’s student body.
When asked about this number, Victoria McGlynn, a Sheridan faculty member currently teaching in the journalism program, said,
“It is unfortunate that we lost some students due to the strike. I think that the strike has had a lasting negative impact on everyone involved, especially the students. It has impacted the morale. Only time will mend those wounds.”
One of the biggest scars left by the strike is the financial strain that most students and teachers are still worrying about because of it. While students were given the chance to withdraw from their program and receive a full refund on their tuition, faculty members aren’t so lucky. Victoria McGlynn shed some light on what it was like,
“As a full-time faculty member I was out on the picket line fighting for equal pay, supporting part-timers, librarians and job security for everyone. Believe it or not, it was hard to be out there day in and day out. And by the end of the five-week strike the financial hit was hard (still recovering from it). I had to reduce my child’s daycare to part time and stay home to look after her as it was no longer financially feasible. It will take another year to recover the financial lose during that time.”
Full-time students had their share of financial obstacles to overcome during the strike, as those students who chose to continue their semester weren’t given any refunds for the lost time. First-year media fundamentals student Kaleb McArthur explained his problems,
“The most difficult aspect was paying the rent for my living space while not living there, because my parents wanted me home while the strike was happening. The insight I can give to anyone is to hold out as long as you can in a situation like that, but if the financial situation is critical, get out and get your money back.”
Another notable after-effect of the strike was the compressed time, with the number of weeks in both semesters being cut from fourteen to thirteen. While this means that faculty have reorganized the semester to involve less assignments, the remaining ones are now worth more the make up for it. Victoria Glynn told us about the restructuring,
“The new schedule due to the strike was a compromise, but definitely not ideal. It left very little rest or re-coop time for anyone especially around the holidays. There is a high risk for burn-out, for both students and teachers.”
This new schedule has impacted students the most, with a lot of their free time now dedicated to working on heftier assignments in a shorter timespan. This doubly goes for students who work during the school year, as they’re now asked to balance larger than normal workloads and keep steady employment. Many students at Sheridan have been very vocal with this concern, and Kaleb McArthur told us his doubts,
“I’m worried students are not getting enough time with teachers, and overall not receiving the education that they paid for. It’s not fair for those who worked hard to be enrolled at this school.”
A brighter tommorrow
Despite the setbacks, most students and faculty remain hopeful, as they make the best of what they have left for this school year, and many of the teachers are being as supportive as they can for them. While many students have shown courage by continuing their education through this hard year, it will be quite some time before the Sheridan community can fully recover.
It will in time, and its students will no doubt go on to do many great things in the fields of Art and Science.