June 24th, 2024

U of L students affected by strike impacts

By Ry Clark - for the Lethbridge Herald on March 22, 2022.

Ahead of a ratification vote on a new deal Monday evening, the University of Lethbridge labour dispute had entered its sixth week.
On Friday a community appreciation rally was held at Lethbridge city hall where dozens came out to show support for the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association, which had been both on strike and locked out. NDP MLA for Lethbridge-West, Shannon Phillips, made an appearance in support, along with Edmonton’s MP Heather McPherson and NDP critic for post-secondary education, Blake Desjarlais.
Also in attendance were students from the U of L showing support to the ULFA and protesting how important a return to classes was before the semester is over.
Nick Swidinsky, a physics major, says the hardest part for students had been the lack of communication from “adequate means.”
“All I’ve heard is rumours of whether there’s going to be cancelled finals or accelerated courses.”
Swidinsky says students had been given no solid answers and had limited information, working with gossip and stories to answer questions.
Sara Wiglesworth, a music education major, was also at the rally and says the situation had been stressful due to the lack of certainty. She added the most frustrating part was a lack of knowledge.
“We don’t get to see both sides and we don’t get any answers from the board of governors and from the admin.”
She noted the lack of communication made students feel ignored and left stressing over fears for their education.
The strike forced many students to change plans, like graduation, leaving them with confusion for future endeavours.
Single mother Tisha Gilbert, a drama education major, will graduate this year, but until Monday evening struggled with the anxiety of not knowing if that would happen.
“It makes planning literally anything impossible, because it’s all so up in the air.”
As a student teacher Gilbert would have used the time to apply for work in the fall, saying her status as a student will change upon graduating. But she missed out on the opportunity to capitalize on early applications for work due to her status as a graduate being jeopardized by the prolonged labour dispute.
“So that means I don’t know if I’ll have a job come fall, because I don’t know if I can apply.”
Students, like Gilbert, face uncertainty when classes are only offered at select times in the semester.
“The classes they need to graduate are only offered this semester. So, that would delay them graduating a full year. Whereas me, it would just be a couple months.”
For many students the dispute placed uncertainty and stress on their shoulders. But for many the answers they sought were not to pick a side but to plan for their future.
“When can I get a job? When can I start getting a secure income to support my kids? When can I start applying for jobs? The reality is, by the time I’m able to apply, the chance of me getting a long-term temporary contract are much smaller than they would be if I could apply now,” said Gilbert.

Share this story:

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments