Strike Odds 'n' Ends, Part XIX

Strike Rally

NEWS, ANALYSIS AND OPINION

By E.P. Chant, Managing Editor, Student Publications

A MESSAGE FROM THE SRC

On Friday, on Facebook, the Student Representative Council published the details of a plan by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development. It requires the administrations of all colleges to set aside the money they have “saved” in the form of non-paid faculty salaries during the strike into a special fund to compensate students who have been financially damaged in some specific way by the work-stoppage.

Students’ response to that post was both phenomenal in “shares” and “total reach”, and insightful in terms of commentary.

The overwhelming opinion appears to be that all students should receive a share of the compensation fund, because every last one of them has been inconvenienced and/or damaged to a degree.

The SRC will be meeting with ministry officials to emphasize that stance, and it will provide information about the allocation of the funding as soon as those details are worked out.

MAKE THE TOUGH DECISION THE RIGHT DECISION FOR YOU

Yes, when classes to recommence, the “condensed in time and content” curriculum scenario is going to suck, big time. Nobody (in their right mind) is trying to “blow sunshine up your skirt” by telling you otherwise. It’s going to mean late nights, non-fun weekends, a study-packed Christmas break, an exhausted 9 p.m. bed-time on New Year’s Eve, and a crapload of stress.

Is it all going to be worth it?

Generally, we’ll say “Yes”. The goal of your education (and the career that follows it) is still a fine one, worthy of pursuit …

… But, specifically and personally (person-by-person), you have to answer that question by looking deep within yourself … “Is it all going to be worth it?” … “Is it all going to be worth it by doing it in this manner?” … “Can I handle the stress?” … “Should I maintain the dream, but come back next year to start over again?”

Self-doubt in the midst of such an unforeseen, unfamiliar and pressure-packed situation as this is natural, but you might be a lot more resilient that you think you are. So, don’t make a rash decision about what you are going to do.

But, if you do decide to “take a break in the action”, there is no shame in that. Just remember: Even though this foray into postsecondary education was screwed up for you (through no fault of your own), your goal and your dream has lasting validity. C’mon back. Re-enrol. Be pissed off for now, but not discouraged permanently.

A PERSONAL NOTE

Hi, folks.

I do have some other thoughts rumbling around in my head, but, for the time-being, I'm choosing to keep them there. Perhaps I'll save them for my memoirs.

My intention throughout the whole process publishing this series has been to address our primary audience: the students of St. Clair College, many of whom (it is probably accurate to say) have never been so directly, personally and potentially disastrously involved in circumstances of this nature ... To tell them that it is okay to evaluate, question and critique issues and positions that are being presented to you by The Powers That Be and those who may hold "positions of authority" in your life ... And to emphasize that, in a situation like this one, you have been screwed by three screwdrivers, not just one. Those who have been following along (and even those who haven't) can identify the trio wielding those tools.

Oh, and I hope one other message has been delivered ... In labour relations, politics, formal negotiations, and life in general, productive exchanges and resolutions can still be achieved even when both parties think they are right because there is probably still some room for a compromised meeting of the minds.

But intransigence can develop when four letters are added to the word "right". One or both sides can become immovably entrenched if they come to believe their cause is righteous, because the corollary of that is that the other side is malicious. That is a mindset to be avoided at all costs in all human relations, including business and politics.

With the contact-offer vote occurring over the next few days – which may or may not resolve the work-stoppage, coupled with the possibility that if may be concluded by "external means" – this is the "peak week" for stress and stressfulness affecting every party involved. There's no point in adding to that high-pressure state-of-affairs with more rubbed-the-wrong-way commentary. So, I'm putting down my pen.

To my faculty friends, and those of you who may feel less warmly about me: I know that, during the vote, you are going to do what you believe to be right and what you believe to be best. That's all, I suppose, that any of us can do in life, and all that we can expect of anyone else. And, that being the case, whether your rationale meshes with mine is immaterial to me. I shall have nothing but respect for your personal and collective decision, because I know it will have been grounded in your principles.

And in an effort to avoid such catastrophic situations in the future, I hope that all parties – OPSEU, the council and the ministry – can recognize that the cost of principles, policies and procedures, in this instance, has been a significant inconvenience for all students, substantial damage for many, and a dissipation in the interest in pursuing postsecondary education for some. That recognition should also, of course, be coupled with apologetic regret.

I'm off, now, to join some SRC colleagues to set up the big Christmas tree in the "hub" area of the Student Centre. Maybe that little bit of joyfulness will help to relieve the stress that will surely exist during the remainder of this semester (whenever it recommences).

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see everyone back here soon.