Students on the strike

24 students on how it affects them and whether or not they’re in support

I’m lost for words because I have assignments that I handed in and have yet to receive. Still haven’t received a first mark for one of my classes.

Mohamed Dini
2nd year, CCIT

We pay thousands of dollars a year; the administration and the union need to reach a fair and just agreement ASAP.

Ryan Persaud
3rd year, English & philosophy

Half of my classes are basically pointless now because of this strike and it’s even affecting the MiWay transit. I fell two times yesterday coming up the hill, and almost this morning, too. Their rights need to be met, but so do ours. There has to be a way to reach a consensus without making us suffer.

Dammy Oduko
2nd year, English & drama

The strike has affected my commuting times! I have to walk an additional 15 minutes to arrive to class. I also hate not knowing whether or not my classes will be cancelled. Some of us can’t afford an extra semester. We’re paying so much money to receive an education, so the university should grant the requests of the TAs. They’re not asking for a millionaire’s salary, just a raise.

Sophia Bustos
3rd year, CCIT

I couldn’t get help for my essay on time. My TA responded 24 hours later with an automated email. My tutorials are cancelled, and they were helpful because they summed up the previous week’s content through application. If they want to talk about corporate greed, they’re being entitled hypocrites.

Ajanta Sivanesparan
3rd year, life sciences

I had already studied for a test the day before the class was cancelled.

Sophia Yang
3rd year, CTEP

I think the strike is justified; being paid several thousand dollars under the poverty line, giving them the right to protest, and the university should pay their employees adequately.

Amandip Dhindsa
2nd year, poli sci & history

I believe that the strike is, for the most part, a healthy way of showing us how crucial the TAs and other part-time staff are to our education and the university as a whole, thus raising our awareness of the rights and benefits they deserve. However, the strike should not go on for too long as this will result in a chaotic unorganized environment that will affect the students negatively, who have no say or influence on the rights and benefits given to the TAs.

Abdel Rahman Mouftah
2nd year, biology & psychology

Students, who have nothing to do with the conflict, should not be punished.

Mohamed Mansour
3rd year, psychology

The TAs got in with this agreement of this job while they’re studying, so they knew about it from the beginning.

Heba Yasser
3rd year, commerce

I think what the TAs are doing is remarkable and worthy of praise. It’s not easy for them to strike, and they have a right to demand a wage above mere subsistence. They’re brilliant individuals and as inconvenienced as I am, I respect their decision.

Mehak Kawatra
2nd year, crim & English

I understand the TAs, and I really think they have a right in what they do, but I do not want to be affected because the problem isn’t mine; it’s between the administration and the unit. I’m also paying for this semester and I don’t want my exams to be affected, in addition to not getting my midterm marks back and having to walk in the snow because of the bus route changes.

Carol Mekhaeil
2nd year, life sciences

I say that the TAs had a contract signed or duties to be done; they can protest while working. But with the strike, we students will be affected. I would say that I am with it, if it’s true, as they say, that they don’t get paid in a fair way. You can’t just watch wrong things happen and stay calm, but if it’s about higher salary, well, everyone is suffering.

George Samaan
1st year, life sciences

I honestly don’t care as long as my classes are not affected.

Sandra Elbaradie
2nd year, management

The TA strike sucks because MiWay and the shuttle bus cannot access campus. However, TAs are currently being paid below the poverty line. TAs do the bulk of the teaching and deserve better pay because of this. So I think the strike is good.

Sara Elborno
5th year, political science

I completely understand where the TAs are coming from. However, they claim that they have the students’ best interests in mind, yet not only is this strike a huge inconvenience in terms of our commute and our labs and such, but now they’re probably going to get paid from our tuition, making our tuition fees skyrocket. That’s not fair to us. That would just put us in the same position they are in. I understand their concerns, I really do. But how does walking around in circles at a traffic light going to prove their point? If they did have our best interests in mind, they should proceed to help us in tutorials.

Afnan Abdul
2nd year, poli sci & psychology

I understand why TAs want to go on strike. I think they do deserve to have a higher wage to match the amount of work they have to complete as part of their job. I totally respect their right to strike. However in my opinion, this is a critical period during the academic school year and it would have been better if the two parties had reached an agreement so it would not affect students, who are paying to attend tutorials and some lectures.

Nana Yaa Pabi
2nd year, poli sci & history

Although the strike has really only affected one of my classes, PWC, I commend the TAs for standing up to U of T on the reoccurring issue of underpaid wages. I feel that many students blame the TAs for things such as relocating bus stops when they don’t really have much choice. Yes, this strike affects many students but it’s better to take a stand on this problem now, or else this problem will never be resolved by remaining quiet. Overall, I just feel like it’s unfair for students but there’s no other way of getting this message across, since TAs do teach and mark most, if not all, the material taught in classes.

Brenda Zhou
2nd year, CCIT & PWC

The strike has impacted some of my labs, including chemistry and anthropology. Both of those have been cancelled. Nothing affected me except for the cancelled tutorials.

Vivan Sohal
1st year, life sciences

I agree with the reason behind the strike, but I just want it to get resolved quickly so that I can get back to tutorials.

Anisa Abdi
1st year, social sciences

My tutorials are not mandatory so it has not impacted me as much, but the buses have. Instead of being able to stop at the campus, I have to walk to Mississauga Road and The Collegeway near the bridge, which I find unsafe in the evening and night around 6 p.m. You know the emails we always get about alerts about sexual assaults on campus all happened around that area; it just doesn’t make sense to have to go to that area to get on a bus.

3rd year, criminology

I’ve had one tutorial cancelled. The moved bus stop affects how quickly I get to class and planning my commute. I live two hours away already.

Abisola Olaniyi
4th year, psychology

The fact that we got heated bus shelters to keep us warm while waiting for the bus and we can’t use them because of this stupid strike irritates me. Not only that but the distance I have to walk from the bus stop to school.

Amanjit Garcha
4th year, political science

I have done my share of reading about the reasons behind the current strike, and I will say that I sympathize with the plight of the teaching assistants who, in some cases, feel that they have no choice but to strike if they want themselves and their position heard. I sympathize. However, this situation, to be frank, still sucks for the students. On the surface, the situation does not seem that bad; classes still continue to run, and thanks to the efforts of the professors, things are running as smoothly as is possible considering the circumstances. But, still, there is only so much the professors can do, partly because doing more (such as doing more marking) would be considered stepping into the labour reserved for their TAs, and the professors are not allowed to do that. So while professors can make changes to reflect the changing circumstances (such as changing the assignments on the syllabus, the way the assignments are weighted, or the format of the assignments), that is all they can do. So students are missing out on having their assignments marked. Students are missing out on their tutorials, something their tuition is paying for. Students are, in some cases, missing their lectures (lectures are cancelled), so they may have to make up school in the summer, or at another time, or may not be able to graduate when they expected. All this is expounded by the fact that, at this time, the students do not have a clear idea of when the strike will end and when they can resume school as it was. The situation is bleak; indeed, bleaker than it seems on the surface of things. Hopefully, a suitable solution can be worked out soon, since the whole situation affects more than the TAs.

Tersha De Konig
4th year, philosophy & psych

Quotes collected during the first week of the strike.