Strike News: Your Professor Is Still Holding Classes… Now What?

On March 5, 2018, York students’ dreams of having a strike-free year were dashed after York refused to bargain over the weekend. This is the third strike in ten years and as of March 8, York administration continues to refuse to negotiate with CUPE 3903. It is estimated that approximately 60% of courses are instructed by striking members, and yet York has made the official statement that the classes that can be taught, will be. Many tenured professors are proceeding as normal, leaving students in a tangled mess and with many questions. In a vulnerable time where we are pawns and bargaining chips, it is crucial to understand our rights as students. Through notices from York administration, CUPE 3903 updates, and the articles at Her Campus York University, we are able to understand the progress of the strike. We, as students, are often left out and left clueless. Some professors are taking advantage of this by forcing us to attend classes and even threatening grade marks if we do not attend. It’s a chaotic mess! There are picket lines, opposing updates, and shady business going around. So, your professor is still holding classes: now what?!

Source: Students for CUPE 3903 via Facebook

I want to attend classes!

Sometimes it’s easier to just keep going to courses. Some professors will set up an online site/Moodle instead of holding a physical class. If this is your case, life will mostly be normal. Note, however, that you will be crossing a picket line, either digital or physical, and that may include being stopped at the line for several minutes. Public transportation has also been redirected. Please account for this in travel times. Generally, exams and assignments will be pushed back in order to accommodate students who do not cross the line, but be mindful that you may have to turn in work per the syllabus if you choose to attend.

Source: Giphy

I don’t want to cross the picket line!

A great way to support CUPE members is the refusal to cross the picket line. Luckily, professors can kick and scream and threaten you to come to class, but you are protected by York Senate policy. There have already been student reports of badly behaving profs but remember that you, as a student, have rights. Section 2 of this policy states that:

“2.1 Academic Integrity

In the event of a Disruption, the primary obligation of Senate is to ensure the academic integrity of all programmes. No dilution of standards normally expected of students should be permitted and there should be as little diminution as possible in the instructional or supervisory support given to students.

2.2 Fairness to Students

2.2.1 Students who do not participate in academic activities because:

a) they are unable to do so owing to a Disruption, or

b) they choose not to participate in academic activities owing to a strike or lock-out on campus

are entitled to immunity from penalty, to reasonable alternative access to materials covered in their absence, to reasonable extensions of deadlines and to such other remedy as Senate deems necessary and consistent with the principle of academic integrity.

2.2.2 Such remedies shall not alter the academic standards associated with the missed activity, nor shall it relieve the student of the responsibility for mastering materials covered.

2.2.3 The availability of a remedy under this policy does not guarantee students the same learning experience that they would have received in the absence of a Disruption.”

In short, you cannot be penalized for refusing to attend during strikes. You will have alternative materials and extensions on exams/assignments due during the strike.

My professor is STILL pressuring us to come to class. Now what?

They still won’t listen? Bring out the big guns… Via email. The York Federation of Students has made a template for students in this situation. Please feel free to copy-paste, insert your personal details, and send to professors that are breaking the policy. Remind them of this section and assert yourself.

“Dear [name],

I am sending this email to inform you that I will not be attending class in the event of a strike. My absence reflects my solidarity with the CUPE 3903 students and staff and my recognition that they are fighting for a better deal for all York students.

As noted in Senate Policy No. 8 (Senate Policy on the Academic Implications of Disruptions or Cessations of University Business Due to Labour Disputes or Other Causes) in 2.2.1:

Students who do not participate in academic activities because:

a) they are unable to do so owing to a Disruption, or

b) they choose not to participate in academic activities owing to a strike or lock-out on campus

are entitled to immunity from penalty, to reasonable alternative access to materials covered in their absence, to reasonable extensions of deadlines and to such other remedy as Senate deems necessary and consistent with the principle of academic integrity.

This provision ensures that my academic career will not be threatened, diminished, or slowed in any way due to my support of the strike through my absence in class.

Crossing the picket lines is not an option for students who support the union and its representatives. Thank you for your understanding and acceptance.

Sincerely,

[name]”

What about Seneca/York classes?   

Some courses, such as several in professional writing, are jointly held with Seneca and York credits. They are taught on Seneca property by college professors, so they are not impacted by the strike. You will still be required to attend them. With that being said, some professors are conscious of students wary of crossing the picket line. They may put materials on Blackboard/other websites or suspend the class in solidarity with striking CUPE members. Talk to your professor to find out!

How can I tell if my class is going on?

You can find out at here or here. Generally, if it is run by a TA, it will be cancelled, and the same goes for tutorials. If you’re unsure, email your professor for clarification.

Source: CUPE 3903

How can I still make the most of this year?

I’m a strike survivor. I made it through the 2015 strike with straight A’s, but it can be quite difficult to improve or even maintain current grades. It’s commonly assumed that it’s like being on vacation: no deadlines, no homework, no school. Things may not be due yet, but when classes return, everything slams in at once. Treat your exams and assignments as you would if there was no strike: study and do them normally. Do your readings, and if possible, consider catching up online. On the bright side, strikes can be great ways to catch up on old schoolwork. At York, it’s all about perspective!

Source: Giphy

What can I do for fun while waiting?

We at Her Campus have all of the best things to do in one place! Check out Rowan’s article here, or any of our other fabulous lists!

Strikes can be scary and nerve-wracking times. It’s confusing and messy, and no one wants to deal with them. We can’t do anything about the situation that we’re in, so we have to know our options and rights. Take some time to review your options, and take a deep breath. It’ll all be over soon, and life will be back to normal!

For current updates, please subscribe to here or here.