June 13th, 2024

Student support for university faculty

By Lethbridge Herald on February 12, 2022.

Herald photo by Al Beeber Picketers supporting the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association walk downtown Friday morning as the ULFA has been on strike since Thursday.

Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald

On a blustery Friday morning, Karina Almeida stood on University Drive in solidarity with her professors.

The University of Lethbridge general science major wanted to let the striking members of the university’s faculty association know she was behind them.

Almeida has been active in generating student support for the faculty.

Students are mad, stressed out and scared about the impact of the strike which on Friday was in its second day after the ULFA walked off the job at 11 a.m. on Thursday when negotiating teams failed to reach an agreement on labour issues.

For Almeida, professors are more than just teachers; they are people students can come to for support, and who will write reference letters.

Almeida wrote a letter of support to the university letting it know students want the school to go back to the bargaining table and negotiate fairly.

“Nobody wanted this to happen but we know that the faculty are going to be the ones who get us through” their studies, she said.

“The faculty has already shown us that they’re behind us so now its just about us showing solidarity and being reciprocal,” she said.

Almeida said “it seems that every single time the university comes up with another email it just feels like everybody’s scared…we have the right to protest,” she said.

“We don’t have anything to be afraid of because we’re not doing anything wrong,” she said adding she feels intimidation tactics are being employed by the university with people taking photos and videos.

“They’ve also set up cameras, that’s one of the ways that they’ve tried to intimidate us. They also keep threatening that our semester will be cancelled which has never happened in the history of Canada.

“So it’s either they haven’t done their research and they’re just doing this out of ignorance or that they’re specifically using the fact they know that this has never happened and they’re still trying to use that tactic to intimidate students,” Almeida added.

She is optimistic the strike will be short.

“In my eyes, this has to get resolved one way or another. The only thing is how bad the blowback’s going to be because at this point, the university is burning every bridge.. . .they really have underestimated our intelligence.

“The whole point of coming to a university is to develop critical thinking – they seem to think that we haven’t done that, that the profs haven’t done their job teaching us to question things. 

So I am 100 per cent sure, unless the university would like to make history that way, to be the first university to let a strike go on long enough to cancel a semester, I don’t think it’s going to happen,” she said of a lengthy strike.

“We’re hoping for something short, and the faculty just finally gets what it wants, a fair contract and they’re finally valued,” she said.

Almeida is supposed to graduate this summer because she has all her courses but she’s coming back specifically because she was given the opportunity to do an undergrad thesis and then go on to her Masters. “And that’s only possible because of my profs, because of them in believing me.”

She wants to show them how appreciated they are.

“They write reference letters for us, they’re usually the ones we go and cry to with our problems.”

In one class that technically ends at 12:50 p.m. the prof will stay until 3 or 4 in the afternoon “just talking about anything and everything,” with students, she said.

“They deserve to be valued and respected,” said Almeida, who is focusing on the biological sciences, chemistry and neuroscience.

On Friday morning, the University of Lethbridge informed the ULFA that its members were legally locked out of university workplaces as of 11 a.m.

“A lockout allows the University to maintain operational responsibilities and control any potential health, safety or liability issues that may arise during a strike,” said the university in statement.

Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter

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Regarding the Poll on the above – is it not obvious who the people are that would vote yes. ?