Fanshawe College (CNW Group/Fanshawe College)

Faculty Strike Would Cancel Classes

If faculty at Ontario’s 24 public colleges walk off the job next week, classes will be cancelled.

But students at Fanshawe could use the time to get ahead in their studies.

The college’s London, Simcoe, St. Thomas, and Woodstock campuses would remain open throughout any job action, Michele Beaudoin, the VP of Student Services at Fanshawe confirmed Wednesday.

“Students will still be able to use the wellness centre, the gym, and our OCAA varsity sports will continue,” said Beaudoin. “Some student activities will continue to be planned and run depending on student numbers on campus. Our Fanshawe Student Union will continue some of their programming and residences will continue their programming. We do have library staff, so the libraries will remain open.”

Computer labs at the college will also still be open. Students on a work placement will be able to continue to work and co-op preparation workshops will not be effected.

All classes will be cancelled, including part-time, apprenticeship and continuing education classes in person and online. But while it will be tempting for students to use any potential strike as a break from studies, Beaudoin is hopeful they will resist the urge to slack off.

“Students will be able to view some course material online. So we are encouraging them to keep an eye on their schedule and course outline, look ahead as to whether or not they will be able to read ahead or do some research on assignments. That will help them to not be so behind when we return,” said Beaudoin.

Fanshawe officials and London Transit are in discussions to establish drop off locations for students near the campus, as buses will not cross the picket line.

Beaudoin doesn’t foresee any trouble for students crossing the picket line on foot.

“I personally have been involved in a couple of campus strikes, not at Fanshawe but at other colleges. In my experiences with it I have never seen faculty cause any issues for students coming through picket lines,” said Beaudoin. “They usually wave them through pretty quickly. A lot of students will come on foot so they can generally come in fairly easily to campus. Where we tend to get slow downs is vehicle traffic. Anyone who is coming in a car will have to be a little patient.”

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) issued a strike deadline for October 16 at 12:01am after it rejected the colleges’ final offer on Tuesday.

While the colleges’ bargaining team said the final offer invests in faculty and addresses union demands, the union refutes that, stating the colleges are refusing to consider key faculty issues. The union has said key bargaining issues relate to education quality and the ongoing “exploitation of contract faculty.”

According to the colleges, the final offer included a 7.75% wage increase over four years, improved parental and pregnancy leave provisions, more flexibility to work overtime if faculty chooses, and giving faculty more discretion over individual course workload.

OPSEU represents more than 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians at the province’s colleges.

-With files from Kirk Dickinson