Nova Scotia

Students stage sit-in in hopes of ending NSCAD strike

Students at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design held a sit-in Friday morning in an effort to end the weeklong strike by faculty.

'I'm feeling very disheartened about the whole situation,' student says

NSCAD students occupied the space outside president Dianne Taylor-Gearing's office. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Students at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design held a sit-in Friday morning in an effort to end the weeklong strike by faculty.

Seventeen students in the master of fine arts program occupied the fourth floor outside the office of president Dianne Taylor-Gearing.

"I'm feeling very disheartened about the whole situation," said Alicia Proudfoot, a second-year student from Edmonton. "It's devastating to have compiled two years worth of work and now have to deal with all this emotional stress."

Many of the students in the program were scheduled to defend their thesis exhibitions in the final six weeks of the school year but are now held up while their instructors walk a picket line.

Alicia Proudfoot is a second-year student from Alberta. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Proudfoot is scheduled to show her work next week.

"I'm working independently right now because I'm not able to contact faculty. I'm essentially now acting as an independent artist."

Camille-Zoé​ Valcourt-Synnott was another student who took part in the sit-in.

"We're here to put pressure on the president to get them to go back to the bargaining table," said Valcourt-Synnott, a first-year student from Montreal. "There's nothing happening on our campus. Our education has just stopped."

The sit-in prompted NSCAD management to temporarily block people from entering the main Fountain campus, as well the Academy and Port campuses. 

Main entrances were locked for approximately 30 minutes to ensure safety and security in the buildings, the university said in a statement.

People could exit the buildings during the temporary closure. 

NSCAD instructors have been on strike for a week. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

NSCAD's 95 teachers and librarians hit the picket line March 1. They say their workload is too heavy for what they are being paid.

At a noon rally, the NSCAD instructors were joined by other instructors from universities across the country.

"It's been very cold for us out here and it's been stormy," said Mathew Reichertz, president of NSCAD's faculty union. "But it seems the more weather that gets thrown at us, the more resolved we become."

NSCAD faculty were joined by faculty members from universities across the country at a rally in Halifax. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The collective agreement for the school's faculty expired at the end of June. The school has 630 full-time students.

In an email, Taylor-Gearing said a meeting has been arranged with the union for Sunday.

"We are doing our best to mitigate the impact on our students," she said. "We are hoping for a timely resolution that ends the faculty strike."

Taylor-Gearing's contract as NSCAD president concludes this summer and there is a search underway for her successor.