Dalhousie rejects student union call for compensation following strike

University says no refunds, syllabus changes remain up to individual instructors

Dalhousie University said no on Friday to a demand for compensation for students affected by the recent four-week strike by its teaching assistants, part-time academics and other academic support workers.

Dalhousie Student Union (DSU) demanded compensation earlier this week following the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) strike. CUPE members accepted a new collective agreement last week and went back to work on Monday.

Dalhousie academic vice-president Frank Harvey posted an update on Dal’s website Friday.

“Because the effects of the strike varied so widely across the university, individual instructors are in the best position to determine how to adjust their courses to achieve these goals,” Harvey said.

Harvey said the university has no intention of altering its refund protocol after the strike.

“While we understand students are feeling the impacts of the CUPE strike on course delivery, every reasonable step is being taken to ensure students will have the opportunity to earn credit for their courses and that the most critical learning outcomes are achieved,” Harvey said. “For this reason, general refunds will not be issued for this semester.”

The student union would like the university administration to do more to support students. In addition to refunded fees, the DSU is asking for a deadline extension for students applying to graduate and reversal of the university senate’s decision to waive student consent requirements for syllabus changes, which took effect on Monday.

“I feel like a lot of people seem to think that now the strike is over, everything is just magically fixed,” DSU vice-president Sydney Keyamo said in an interview Thursday. “But it’s like, the ramifications of the strike are still there and they’re still affecting students.”

The strike began on Oct. 19 following failed contract negotiations and lasted nearly four weeks. Members of CUPE 3912, Nova Scotia’s largest university union, demanded higher wages to reflect inflation.

CUPE 3912 members and volunteers picket at Dalhousie University’s Sexton campus on Nov. 10. They demanded wage increases to reflect inflation.   Decklan Z. Rolle

On Oct. 26, one week after the strike began, the DSU launched a strike impact survey to better understand how students’ academic experiences have been affected by the strike.

Those preliminary findings prompted the DSU to start a petition Monday demanding compensation from university administration.

“If we’re not getting the course we signed up for, we deserve some kind of compensation, whether that be monetary or the opportunity to retake a class for free,” Keyamo said.

She said a report will be completed once enough data is collected to reflect both concerns during and after the strike.

Harvey said the university will continue to allow instructors to adjust syllabuses as they see fit, but those changes should benefit students and must be approved by the head of the academic unit.

Dalhousie student Maya Suzuki said she feels like her education has been thrown off track.

“I feel like it changed the course of how I would’ve learned. I feel like I’m not really on track now because I missed so many tutorials that I would’ve sat in and followed the material so much better in,” she said.

CUPE 3912 declined comment on whether Dalhousie students are entitled to any form of compensation.

Keyamo said students should continue to voice their dissatisfaction.

“This is not the time to be apathetic, this is the time to care more than ever. We need numbers. Numbers are what works for admin, unfortunately. So, like, showing strong support and having a united front is really, really important.”

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