Guide to Surviving the College Strike
It’s been almost four weeks that the Ontario colleges’ union have been on strike, and although there is hope that it will soon end, there is a staggering knowledge among students that the end is not near.
In 2010, I went through a similar experience as a student at York University. Faculty had gone on strike and I spent three months using up my meal plan and sitting in my dorm room not bothering to prepare for when the strike ended. When it did, we did not lose a semester, instead we extended into the summer, and some projects were cancelled and grades proportioned accordingly. I was not prepared for this and my grades were left less appealing than they would have been if I were given the chance to finish the semester properly.
Now, in the wake of my second time as a post-secondary student during a faculty strike, I have created a guide to surviving the time off while still being able to finish the year on top.
Keep to your routine. I don’t mean to still show up for every class and sit in the room alone; that’s depressing. I mean, if you’re used to waking up for an 8:30 am class, get up, get dressed, make yourself a coffee and just begin each day on a good note. If you start staying up late and sleeping in, you’re body will begin to adjust to this new schedule and it will difficult to get back into the swing of things once the strike ends.
Stay connected with your class mates. If you made a Facebook group before the strike began, now would be a good time to start posting to see if anyone is interested in meeting up. It doesn’t need to be a get together to study (although that would be a great idea!) but it can also be a chance to discuss your feelings about what is going on and to motivate each other to stay positive. The strike will end.
I’m mixing this one in the middle so that you don’t think I’m trying to state the obvious right off the bat. Stay up with your course outlines and do the readings you would have been doing if you were in class. We may not have to hand in any assignments until after the break, but it doesn’t mean you can’t sit down and type up a rough draft. And, it may seem sigh-worthy to have to sit down and read a textbook, but you may actually realize that once you start reading, you actually miss being in class and remember how interesting this content actually is. And you’ll have read two chapters in no time.
Teachers will definitely be understanding and will build new deadlines once the strike ends, but depending on how long the strike lasts, these deadlines may come quickly. There’s no other choice. Be a self starter.
Try and stay clear from getting too deep into the negative activism posts and groups on social media. There has been a giant movement of petitions and groups being started online. I know it is important to stand up for your opinion and make sure that we, as students, are heard, but there is a limit to how much you can actually do. Organizing a sit-in demanding the president of your college to talk to you might be less productive than just sending him an email and asking for a chance to sit down and have some questions answered. People may be more interested in hearing your opinions if you come to them peacefully than if you’re coming at them with a chip on your shoulder.
Don’t take your frustration out on your teachers. I still work on campus, and last week on my way to work, I was passing the picket line. A car drove by, the driver rolled down his window and began yelling profanities at those faculty members at the entrance. My heart jumped into my throat and I knew that I would have felt even worse if I were one of the targets of his horrible personality. Your teachers feel horrible that the union and the colleges aren’t able to come to an agreement and they know that we are all worried about what will happen to our semester — you don’t need to yell it at them while they freeze their asses off on the picket line. And, don’t send it to them in angry Facebook messages either. You’re students and future professionals, it’s time to start acting like it.
Stay positive. There’s nothing you can do during this tough time. It’s a tough time for everyone - but the best thing you can do is stay positive and stay focused. Sure, take the time to catch up on season two of Stranger Things, but also take this time to reach out learn a new skill or practice an old one. Don’t waste your time.
If you’re having a hard time financially, make sure you seek out the right resources to help. If the semester is extended, which is a possibility, chances are OSAP and other student loans probably won’t adjust your funding. If you have a part-time job, ask for more hours, or find a holiday position (it’ll be easier now because you can offer more availability. Let them know that if the strike ends, you will be able to give them a couple days notice).
Keep up to date with what's going on between the union and the colleges and make sure you’re prepared for when it ends. I said this already, but - it will end! Don't stop studying because you think it's pointless if we lose the semester. The most important thing, whether or not you want to hear it, is to keep studying. I’m definitely much more prepared and aware of what is going on and the repercussions of what can happen if I don’t stay on top of everything and stay motivated, now than I was seven years ago. I’m hopeful and still proud of the college I attend, the achievements I have made and the steps I am taking to my career. A little time off won’t change that.