A few weeks ago, Jordan Ellis and Alicia Silliker had significant concerns about how an expected strike by faculty at the university would impact their studies.
Ellis is in the final semester of his degree in business administration and living off-campus while Silliker is a second-year arts student living in residence.
The strike continued for three weeks, with the St. Francis Xavier Association of University Teachers (St. FXAUT) voting late last week by a margin of 96 per cent to ratify a deal with the university.
Ellis and Silliker said there are consequences for the loss of academic time.
“It’s going to push our classes back a week. Our last day of classes was supposed to be the (April) 5th and it is being pushed back to the 12th,” said Ellis.
Exams that were supposed to be delivered in mid-April are also being postponed for a week and should be completed by late in April. The graduation date is being maintained for May 5.
Ellis has some concern about the fact that three weeks of lost class time is being adjusted by only one week, but trusts his professors’ ability to manage the syllabus.
“I think the profs will take out a little bit of work, here and there,” he added. “It won’t be that bad, I don’t think. It might be more broad, not in-depth, per chapter (of material).”
Ellis is satisfied that the short strike and minimal extension of classes mean that his off-campus housing arrangements will not conflict with his new schedule but he does think that students are owed some compensation.
“They haven’t really announced that yet. They’re having a Senate meeting (Monday) to figure out what to do.”
Ellis notes faculty will get one week of pay for the extended class time but have lost three weeks of salary, which, he said, has been estimated to be valued to several million dollars of savings for the university. Balancing that, he noted, tuition value is about $2.8 million for the same period, as reported by the student union.
In the end, the accepted agreement is unchanged from the one the St. FXAUT had submitted the week before.
“The board of governors definitely pushed the president to get a deal done, I think,” Ellis assessed, disappointed with the unproductive delay.
The one benefit of the disruption was that Ellis was able to pick up extra shifts at his part-time job, so was able to earn some extra money.
Silliker said she and her classmates are just happy to be getting back to study.
She had a lot of e-mails on Sunday providing information from professors about the resumption of classes but has to wait for the resumption of classes to get details on extension of classes and postponement of exams.
“It only affects me in the fact that I think we’re losing our extra days before exams, so that will make it more difficult when it comes to studying for exams. They are not extending the exam schedule much so if I have to go back to the Island a few days later it is not a big deal,” she explained.
The standard “reading week” is still scheduled for next week. Combined with strike time it may compensate for any lost study time between classes and exams.
Silliker is hoping to work over the summer but has not yet secured an employment offer so the slight delay in returning home is not expected to have an impact.
Students were being kept informed on strike issues and progress through a variety of social media and university sources.
Silliker is concerned about the university’s financial position and about possible job cuts that are projected to result due to the faculty pay increase
“It’s nice to see that they could really come together last (Wedensday) because the entire strike has been a back-and-forth battle. Finally, they came together and got it all done. That’s a lot better than what the strike was originally looking like,” Silliker expressed.
“I’m just glad it’s over.”