“So, how’s your summer?”
It’s the joke that seems to be popping up for Ontario college students who’ve recently faced the faculty strike between Oct. 16 and Nov. 21.
It’s an odd question, but relevant to the situation as students faced more than a month without classes. Unlike summer vacation, however, this left most, but not all, students stressed if not frustrated, with the sudden changes.
The weekly messages left by the college’s deans updating students on the progression (or lack thereof) of the strike only added an extra load on students’ shoulders. However reassuring the messages were, they did not alleviate students’ concerns.
By the end of last Friday, students went to Humber’s Twitter page, expressing deep concerns for their future and frustrations that the semester should just be canceled entirely, and a couple of tweets that prompted Twitter to filter and disclaim tweets that “contain offensive content.”
While the discontent is understandable, Humber students have to remember it isn’t just them being affected: there are about half a million other students in the province as well. Losing a semester for a first or second year student is equivalent to losing a year of classes, since most first semester classes are pre-requisites for second semester.
Final year students want to graduate on time, hoping to continue with the next stage of their life, whether that’s getting a job, pursuing post-graduate studies, or building a family.
Sarena Peterson has always had a steady job since she was 16. The final year Business Administration student at Lakeshore is a manager at a Bath & Body Works outlet and knows how to balance work and school.
“It was like a mini-vacation,” said the 22-year-old. “When the strike was starting to seem endless and work had become busy due to the start of the holiday season, I started to commit more to work obligations.”
Peterson said the strike’s quick end caught her off guard and she knows she’s going to have a busy month ahead of her trying to balance both now. However, she said she’s happy to finally be back in the classroom.
Adapting to the new normal — at least for this academic year — will ensure everyone, from students to management, will make it to April. It’s good that the college is working on the premise that it will do everything it can to accommodate students to make it to April and to succeed.
As final year students, the editors of Et Cetera overcame these challenges and maintained the newspaper during the strike, although the campus was like a ghost town with rolling tumbleweeds passing through the empty parking spots.
Plus, getting food from the staff cafeteria was a nice experience.
The point is, even without teachers to moderate classes, the strike created a live classroom for journalism students who know the news never stops. Dedicated students of the Et Cetera newspaper continued to come to school every day to report on the strike and the other, albeit few, events at Humber.
It’s where the students took the initiative to act in a real newsroom situation, something that typically does not happen until students are at their internship or in the workplace.
For journalism students — as well as a few others — summer started earlier than usual.