By PETER SWART
The evening of Oct. 15 was a nightmare for students enrolled in colleges across Ontario. It was the night that students counted the minutes as they waited to find out if they would be used as pawns in a game of chess between the colleges and over 12,000 faculty members. They were.
The worst part for students was they were forced to be part of a game that would last over five weeks and end with no winner – a game that should have never begun.
The strike began on Oct. 16 with many of the 500,000 students affected being a little anxious. Their thinking, however, was the strike would end soon.
Little did they know it would end up being the longest in history.
The strike lasted over five weeks. Five weeks with our education hanging in the balance. Five weeks spent growing more and more anxious as we feared the worst. We feared losing the semester completely.
Then the College Employer Council, which was negotiating on behalf of the 24 colleges called for a faculty vote to see if they were in favour of the employers’ final offer.
The students became even more anxious as the vote loomed and colleges started releasing their plans to make up the lost time. The plan would see the students’ Christmas break shortened, affecting vacation plans and jobs.
The vote ended with faculty deciding to not accept the final offer. Only then did the government decide to legislate the teachers back to work.
And here we are. The strike is over and we are not losing our semester. Should we be grateful? No way.
There were no winners in this pointless game of chess. The number of part-time teachers still outweighs the number of full-time, they still make the same amount of money offered at the beginning and they still have the same amount of academic freedom.
There were no winners but anyone who has paid any attention to the strike from the beginning can see that the students are the clear losers.
We lost five weeks of our education and many of us are having to change plans and will end up losing out on accepting job offers because we will be ending school later than university students and students from other provinces.
The strike was unfair to students in every way imaginable and the government should have either stopped it before it began or they should have let the faculty and colleges finish what they started.
The students were used as pawns, period, and we are still frustrated as the only thing that has changed since the strike started is that we have missed out on a lot of our education. We are now being expected to change our plans and to put a “Band-aid” on the bruised egos of both parties involved.