Why students should support Ontario’s striking college faculty

22815151_1720220081355896_1896886143830429935_nBy Paula Greenberg

I am a student at Humber in the Child and Youth Accelerated program. I decided to return to school after years of precarious employment in the Arts. My return to school has meant so much for me, giving me new career opportunities and a chance for decent work.

This strike has deeply affected me as it cuts into the limited amount of time I am in school. My instructors, for the short time of being taught by them, were amazing and extremely knowledgeable. When this strike began, I understood that they had the same struggles I previously dealt with. The college has not addressed these issues and continues to exploit talented, valuable people. I stand with faculty because they deserve decent working conditions and academic freedom.

Today’s college faculty and staff are facing precarious working conditions and lack of academic freedom. Over 70% of faculty are employed part-time or on rotating contracts. Faculty have limited say in the quality and standards of our education. The more the colleges are run like a business, the less reasons students are respected in the pursuit of their education.

The claims by the CEC that it will cost too much ignores the fact that a student’s education deserves a well represented and fairly treated full-time staff. So why should we as students support the faculty? Students across Ontario have been pushing back and showing support for their faculty. Whether it has been getting coffee, making signs, or musical performances, students care and appreciate the struggle for fairness in the workplace. We should be inspired by these actions and do more to pressure the colleges and government.

In these times, precarious work is rampant across all sectors. Contract and part-time work is stressful, affecting mostly women and workers of colour. The college faculty have taken a stand, not only for themselves but to set a precedent that people deserve full-time employment. Poor conditions have cheapened our education by limiting access to our instructor outside of class time. Many instructors prepare their lectures and mark outside of work hours and are not compensated for it. Contract faculty must have equal pay for their work outside of the classroom. This precarious nature has forced many of our faculty to take on several jobs, furthering inaccessibility. If this trend of part-time and contract work continues, many students will face the same struggles as their faculty. It is imperative that the students join their faculty to say no to bad contracts and under-employment.

A fair academic decision-making process involves people who are in the classroom. By faculty not having a say, the standards of our education is diminishing. Our education is taught by faculty who have expertise in their respective fields so why do administrations have absolute power over academic standards? As students, it is important for us to learn from the experts, the people who know best what we need to learn for our future careers. College faculty are not only our educators, they are our colleagues and mentors.

So what can we do? Students have power. Students and faculty are the heart of the colleges. We can show our support for our faculty and pressure the CEC to get back to the bargaining table. We can hold the Ontario Government accountable for fairness in the workplace.

So sign petitions, visit picket lines, go to rallies and join The Fight for $15 and Fairness movement!
Together, students and faculty can work to get back to what is most important to us: our education.

This was first published by socialist.ca.

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