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Laurentian University students on edge as faculty strike continues

Students at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ont., are in limbo as a faculty strike continues.

Students' General Association urging administration and faculty to return to negotiating table

Students express their frustration with a faculty strike at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ont., on a chalkboard in the arts building. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)
Students are usually rushing to and from classes at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ont., but it was so quiet on Thursday that the hum of overhead lights could be heard.

Most classes are cancelled because members of the Laurentian University Faculty Association began striking at midnight Wednesday after negotiations with the administration over a new collective agreement broke down.

"It's just really unsettling," third-year environmental sciences student Jocelyn Meyer said.

"It's not really fair for the students who work hard to come to school, and they pay their tuition and we don't know if we're going to get our money back or not if it lasts a long time."
Third-year environmental sciences student Jocelyn Meyer is concerned she may temporarily lose her part-time job at Laurentian University's campus pub. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Along with academic worries, Meyer said she is also afraid she might temporarily lose her server job at the campus pub if the strike drags on. 

Students self-teaching to avoid falling behind

Nil Patel also has concerns. He came to Sudbury from Connecticut to study computer science, and is paying more tuition than most students. 

"When they come back from a strike, will we have more work to do or we'll just continue normally," Patel asked.

"How will they basically get the time back from what was wasted?"

First-year biomed student Eric Paquette is passing the time by studying. 

The mature student has to learn as much as he can on his own since he cannot ask his professors for help while they are picketing.
Most classrooms at Laurentian University are empty during the faculty strike. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

"It's like I'm like paying for education and now I have to self-teach to not get behind," Paquette said.

"You almost have to start studying by yourself, reading your texts and hope that that's the type of information you need for these midterms and stuff."

Trying to minimize impact on students

First-year engineering student Alicia Gilies said she is happy to have the extra time to catch up on work, but she does not want the strike to interfere with her graduating plans. 

"If it will affect that, that would be a big setback," Gilies said. 

Roch Goulet, president of the Students' General Association and a fourth year psychology student, said his inbox is flooded with questions from students concerned about their academic and financial standing with Laurentian.
International student Nil Patel from Connecticut has many questions about what the faculty strike means for his time in Sudbury, Ont. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

While he does not have all the answers, he said he is trying to make sure the impact on students is minimal. 

"I completely understand. I, myself, am also stressed," Goulet said.

"Just keep pushing for the two groups, faculty and admin, to talk and get this through."

About the Author

Olivia Stefanovich

Reporter

Olivia Stefanovich is a network reporter for CBC News based in Toronto. She previously worked in Saskatchewan and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @CBCOlivia. Send story ideas to olivia.stefanovich@cbc.ca.