Last Friday, students gathered with UTMSU executives for a commission meeting to share their experiences with the strike and discuss ways to voice their concerns to administration.
Students discussed possible rallies and collective emails to the administration regarding disrupted labs, tutorials, and classes.
Ebi Agbeyegbe, current UTMSU VP external and next year’s president, said UTMSU has been talking to students about the strike’s impact on their studies. Students were worried about graduating on time and did not know whom to approach for the right information.
According to U of T’s director of news and media relations Althea Blackburn-Evans, “five to six percent of courses across the three campuses were suspended during the strike”. This is not including the number of courses whose labs and tutorials were cancelled.
Complaints raised by the students at the meeting included lab tests being held despite labs being cancelled during the strike. A student said that his labs for BIO153 were cancelled, yet students are being asked to write a lab test worth 15%.
Another biology student talked about a project carried out for the duration of the full-year course but for which no instructions were given for the month-long strike, and now that Unit 1 is back, the class is expected to still complete it.
Other students talked about being left with no option but to request a late withdrawal from a course, only to find out later that the administration announced that the date to select Credit/No-Credit had been extended.
According to the FAQ on the UTM’s Registrar’s website, if the late withdrawal request was done between March 9 and 23 for a winter term course, a student may petition to change it to CR/NCR through the Registrar’s Office by April 6.
Students in Y courses can also submit a petition to withdraw from a course without academic penalty or to select or cancel CR/NCR for a course.
The registrar also notes that CR/NCR courses will be accepted for program requirements. Extension dates for S courses are April 6 to drop courses from the academic record, and to select CR/NCR without counting towards a student’s two-credit maximum for CR/NCR courses, and April 12 for late withdrawal, without counting towards the maximum three credits allowed.
First-year students however will have to reach their own department to check whether they will accept the CR/NCR option for courses required for entry into Type 2 and 3 Subject POSts, which have specific course and grade/GPA requirements.
Upper-year students at the meeting expressed their dissatisfaction with the options for first-year students, saying that the first-years usually need more guidance than the upper-year students.
The Medium spoke to UTM registrar Diane Crocker about the policies.
According to Crocker, the guidelines for first-year students are in place to allow them to consider carefully their decisions about their courses.
Crocker was unable to confirm whether any cases existed of courses where students would be unable to receive a final grade, saying that that information would not be available until April 12.
Asked whether students denied entry into Type 2 and 3 subject POSts due to low grades resulting from the strike would be able to retake courses without financial penalty, Crocker said she did not imagine that such a situation would obtain.
She added that there would be a meeting with departments, deans, and chairs on Monday to discuss issues related to the strike.
Crocker said she will be meeting with students in the rotunda of the Innovation Complex next week to help advise students affected by the strike. She added that the Registrar’s Office will be open extra hours so students can get advice about their individual cases. The registrar’s office is scheduled to be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday to Wednesday.
One student raised the point that in the Department of Political Science, tutorials are the main means, more than lectures, to understand the course material; she had two tutorials cancelled, did not get her essay mark back, and will still have to submit a final essay and write the final exam.
An international student said she paid around $3,600 for each class and that, because of the strike, she would have to submit assignments during exam period. She felt she was “not taught anything”.
Guest speaker Rhon Teruelle, a Unit 1 member who had been on strike, suggested pressuring the administration and requesting reimbursements for the affected courses. He also said that contacting the media was a form of pressuring the administration.
Additionally, students suggested organizing a rally this week, a walkout in front of the Registrar’s Office, and “making noise” at the exam jams.
Another point that Teruelle brought up was that the contract that will be determined by the arbitrator will end in three years. According to Teruelle, if Unit 1 members’ demands are not met through the new contract, there could be another strike once the contract expires.
Flora Ward, a sessional lecturer in Unit 3 from the Department of Visual Studies, said that many of her unit’s members wanted to reject their own agreement that was proposed, but were worried about the pay they’d lose as a result of a strike.
Teruelle said that what York did with the strike by putting classes on hold was better than the actions U of T took.
One student disagreed, arguing that not having a full disruption was better in the end.