College students petition for tuition reimbursement during strike

Photo by Safina Husein

Faculty from 24 Ontario public colleges have been on strike since Oct. 16, 2017.  

 The strike occurred after failed deliberations between the union and the College Employer Council (CEC) on Oct. 14 and 15.  

 Further discussions at the bargaining table between both parties have yet to commence since the strike began. The CEC and union have been in communication with a mediator who will indicate when he believes the two party’s demands are close enough to return to the bargaining table. 

 Over 500,000 students are currently affected by the strike. As a result, many students who have been unable to attend classes are beginning to feel frustrated and concerned by the length of the strike. 

 “There really hasn’t been any communication at all between the school and the students besides a small update right before the strike started so no one really knows how to proceed during the time off as far as graded material goes,” Anita Bakos, third year accounting student in audit and information technology at Conestoga College, said. 

 “At the end of the day, all we really want is to be back in class and to be using our tuition dollars for what it was intended for — to be in class, to get an education.”  

 “We’re all just kind of sitting ducks waiting for someone to make a move.” 

 In addition, many students shared concerns regarding whether or not they will be able to finish both their year and semester due to missed classes, apprenticeship hours, clinical placements and more. 

 “Hopefully we don’t lose our semester, however, it will still be tough to catch up on everything and have all our assignments and tests at once, once we return. It is also a great loss of money as we pay a lot to be in class,” Breanne Henderson, second-year environmental public health student at Conestoga College, said.  

 Although understanding and sympathetic to everything which college faculty are fighting for, students affected are hoping their education won’t be collateral as a result. 

 “I support the teachers and I want them to have more job security, but it’s just frustrating that the students are getting caught in the middle and our education is being impacted,” Danielle Schaefer, second-year student in McMaster’s bachelor of science in nursing program at Conestoga College, said. 

 In order to give students a platform to voice their concerns and thoughts on the strike, two students from Humber College, Amir Allana and Greg Kung, created a petition on change.org and are calling for a tuition refund for each student who is affected by the faculty strike.  

 Currently, the petition has over 100,000 signatures from students and other supporters. 

 The petition demands that students affected by the strike be reimbursed for each day that there is a labour stoppage. 

 The petition estimated that students pay almost 40 dollars per day to be in school and asks that full-time students be reimbursed 30 dollars per day and part-time students be reimbursed 20 dollars per day. 

 “The 30 dollars is barely anything but it would at least help for struggling students trying to manage tuition fees on low paying part time jobs,” Bakos said. 

 For Allana and Kung, the petition was a way to create a platform and outlet for students to vent their frustrations and share comments. 

 “[What] should be made very clear is that, yes, we are asking for tuition refund. But the point isn’t the refund in itself. The refund is just a monetary consequence that we were hoping would encourage both sides to get back to the bargaining table,” Kung, co-creator of the petition, and paramedic student at Humber College, said. 

 “At the end of the day, all we really want is to be back in class and to be using our tuition dollars for what it was intended for — to be in class, to get an education.”  

One Comment

  1. As a parent, we would like to have our sons and daughters to be in school, at the end students are the ones affected. Precious time is wasted. Please have their classes back. We work hard to support our children’s education and we hope this strike would end soon. The government should help settle in this dispute. PLEASE HELP.

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