P.E.I. students at Mount Allison playing waiting game after faculty strike

Hayley Wood, a fourth-year Mount Allison University student from Richmond, P.E.I., says she is doing the best she can to keep up with her studies now that faculty at the New Brunswick university are on strike.

Faculty, including professors and librarians, walked off the job at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

"As a student who has had a lot of very wonderful professors, I 100 per cent stand behind the faculty," Wood said from the campus in Sackville, N.B.

"In standing up for themselves, they are also standing up for their programs as well as students who are also a part of the Mount Allison community."

Striking staff cite a decrease in the number of full-time instructors and the precarious position of part-time instructors as points of contention.

'Wary of the administration' 

The university said it has one of the lowest student to teacher ratios in the country,  and that calling part-time positions "precarious" is inaccurate

Emily Shaw, a third-year fine arts student from Stratford, described the strike-bound campus as  "strange and quiet."

Hayley Wood/submitted

"We are missing classes, it's quite a bit of money that's being lost as we are not able to go to class," said Shaw.

"I feel like a lot of people are kind of wary of the administration at some points. Because we have such small class sizes as well, I feel people are very close with professors and so I feel that there is a sort of unity amongst the students in that sense." 

Lily McLaine, a third-year student at the university from Stratford, said students were excited to have a day off school on Monday. 

But if the strike drags on that excitement will change to frustration — McLaine said she may pack her bags and head back to P.E.I. 

"I am a science student so a lot of my studies involve being in a lab which means we need supervision from professors," she said.

"So that will be quite difficult to figure out how to continue with our laboratory studies if we don't have any professors to watch over us."

'As a mother, I am concerned'

For parents, the strike is also a worry. Lisa Doyle-McBain's daughter, Amanda, is a first-year student.

"As a mother, I am concerned about her missing out on an important part of the term and then having a really heavy workload once classes resume," she said. "Or alternatively, missing out on important information if too much time lapses and parts of the curriculum are skipped over."

Emily Shaw/submitted

Mount Allison's faculty association and the university have been negotiating since June 2019. Full-time faculty have been working without a contract since July.

Wood said she plans to join striking faculty on the picket line to get more information about the strike.

Until then, she is doing the best she can to keep up with her studies.

"When the strike comes to an end, we will still have tests, assignments and stuff that will still be due at a certain point in the semester," she said. 

"I am hoping to keep myself caught up on all that work so that I don't find that when the strike comes to an end — whenever that is — I am not loaded with all that work that I should have been doing."

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