College students using down time during faculty strike to learn independently

While college professors prepare to hit picket lines around the province again today, some students are still hitting the books. In the northeast, all classes remain cancelled at Cambrian College, College Boreal, Sault College, Northern College and Canadore College, but campuses remain open.

Classes remain cancelled at colleges across Ontario

The library at Cambrian College in Sudbury, Ont., was relatively quiet on the first day of the strike by college faculty across the province. Some students are using the time to study for upcoming exams or cover course material independently. (Jessica Pope/CBC)

While college professors prepare to hit picket lines around the province again today, some students are still hitting the books.

All classes remain cancelled at colleges across Ontario, including Cambrian College and Collège Boréal in Sudbury, Sault College in Sault Ste Marie, Northern College in Timmins and Canadore College in North Bay. Campuses remain open.

Those students in engineering at Cambrian, like second year power engineering student Mike Muzyka, will soon have to write a provincially-mandated exam.

They are preparing for that test without the help of their instructors.
Rod Dammeier, Anthony Di Lella, Mike Muzyka are all engineering students at Cambrian College. They have an important provincially-mandated exam coming up that they must pass, whether their teachers are on strike or not. (Jessica Pope/CBC)

"We're governed under the TSSA [Technical Safety Standards Authority] so we have to pass those exams to get our certificate. So that continues no matter what," Muzyka says.

He calls the atmosphere on campus 'quiet', as students wait to hear if the dispute will end and classes can resume.

However, Muzyka isn't too worried about his upcoming exam.

"We'll put the work in, do what we got to do to get it done."

Muzyka's classmate, Rod Dammeier, is a mature student who says by now he should know how to study on his own.

"To be honest, it's not as big of a deal for me, but if it was your first year in college, I could see a lot of those kids kind of being lost," says Dammeier.

Students have mixed feelings about strike

Music student Ashley Corman says she has mixed feelings about the labour disruption.
Ashley Corman is a music student at Cambrian College. She says the break from classes while professors are on strike helps her get caught up on projects. (Jessica Pope/CBC)

"I'm trying to stay positive and look at it as it's going to be a small break for the students to try to catch up on their projects, and have that extra time to work. But at the same time it's not fair to anybody - for the college, the students, the professors."

Although she sides with the professors in the dispute, she says she wishes the strike didn't cut into her education time.

Music students have auditions early in the new year. Corman is worried the strike will push back those auditions or students will be left unprepared for the performance.

Will disruption affect student visas?

Meanwhile, some international students at Cambrian are eyeing the calendar nervously, wondering if the faculty strike will affect their student visas.

Gurpreet Singh Broca is with Cambrian's student council and represents international students.
Gurpreet Singh Broca is with Cambrian College's student council and represents international students. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

"Unfortunately, if it stays longer than what we expect, it's going to be tough for [international students] to manage their certain level of qualification criteria to be staying in Canada," Singh Broca says.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union representing 12,000 professors at 24 colleges says it's fighting to turn more contract jobs into permanent ones. The College Employer Council says this would be too expensive.

As of Monday, there were no talks scheduled to end the dispute.

With files from Jessica Pope