Budget negotiations must keep students’ best interests at heart
With the potential of a full-time faculty strike at Wilfrid Laurier University, many students are worried about what will happen to their semester of work. Both the faculty and WLU administration are aware of these anxieties and assure the student body that, although there is a very complex nature to these negotiations, a solution is the main goal of both sides.
In the context of present economic realities the WLU administration’s proposed budget is a response to increased competition as well as expected declines in provincial government funding in future years. Issues arise because of its effect on faculty pensions and salaries as well as its mandate that teachers must change to focus more of their work on teaching than research.
Although there are complaints that the WLU faculty is already paid at a relatively low rate compared to other Ontario universities, students feel that their interests should have more weight given the necessity of having had a reliable education for future success. Social media connection has allowed student reactions to filter into an online petition voicing their position against a WLU full-time faculty strike.
Given their voting results, WLUFA may seem to be interested in a strike, however the inconvenience that it would cause for thousands of students outweighs the faculty’s benefits from its desired budget compromises. In the event of a strike students could still be required to complete course work without lecture assistance or, at worst, lose their semester’s progress.
On the other hand some students may not suffer much from a full-time strike as classes that are run by part-time or contract staff will still be scheduled to run. This is where fears about full-time strikes stem from. The consequences on students are unpredictable and out of their control up until the news breaks and it is difficult to prepare for.
Negotiations ultimately require compromise from all parties. Both sides must keep students’ best interests at heart — because, after all, that’s why the school is here — and both the university administration and WLUFA should be ready to give up some of their demands in order to find a compromise and come to an agreement.