University of Guelph-Humber holds midterms as college faculty prepare for vote

Photo by Kit Kolbegger.
Hannah Derue holds a sign saying “Students want class resumption” in front of Humber College’s North campus. Derue goes to the University of Guelph-Humber, also located at that campus. Many of her classes have been affected as well. (Photo by Kit Kolbegger.)

By Kit Kolbegger
The University of Guelph-Humber announced Wednesday that students would be writing their midterm exams next week.

Hannah Derue, a third year student in University of Guelph-Humber’s psychology program, works at the service desk in the Learning Commons. She said she and other service desk workers were surprised by the email on Wednesday that announced some midterms would be taking place.

“Everyone’s really concerned because midterms are so short notice,” she said.

Some classes at the University of Guelph-Humber have continued through the strike in what the administration called “alternative formats” on its website.

Derue said many students were having difficulty figuring out what was expected of them during the strike.

“I’m hearing concerns like, ‘I have an assignment but I’m not really sure what’s going to be required. The teacher says that something might be taken out. Do you think I should do it anyway?’” she said.

Derue braved the cold weather on Friday morning to go walk the picket line with Humber faculty though she had to go to Guelph to complete a lab for a course later that afternoon.

“There’s 500,000 students being disrupted with this, and GH happens to be on the Humber Campus so we’re tied into this problem too,” she said.

The Ontario college faculty strike has lasted four weeks. Earlier this week, after negotiations between the faculty union and the College Employer Council had briefly resumed, the Council asked the Ministry of Labour to arrange for faculty to vote directly on their latest offer.

The Ontario Public Sector Employees Union, which represents faculty, have asked faculty to vote no.

A press release from the union said that the offer is “a step back” in terms of academic freedom, and that the offer would lead to more precarious work for faculty.

Derue said she didn’t agree with the Council’s decision to push for a vote.

“It’s kind of a take it or leave it position that leaves students and faculty behind,” she said.

While the vote was arranged, neither classes nor negotiations took place. Derue hung a sign around her neck that said, “GH students want class resumption.”

“I was just talking to a couple OPSEU representatives here today and they were open to negotiations, so we’re gonna push for them,” she said.

The faculty vote will take place from Tuesday, Nov. 14 to Thursday, Nov. 16. The results won’t be in until the end of that week, and the faculty union has rejected the colleges’ request that classes take place while the vote is going on.

“Practically speaking, the union cannot call off a strike when there is no negotiated agreement and no return-to-work agreement,” a strike bulletin to faculty said.

Derue said that while she supported faculty, she understood students’ frustration with the current situation.

“We all want to go back to school,” she said.

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