U of R students worry what potential strike means for graduation

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U of R students worry what potential strike means for graduation
A faculty strike is possible at the University of Regina, and with the end of semester coming students wonder what the future holds. David Baxter reports – Mar 15, 2019

Talks between the University of Regina administration and University of Regina Faculty Association (URFA) are set to resume on March 25 and 26 with the help of a mediator.

This comes after the previous round of mediation did not result in a new collective agreement. URFA has been without a contract since 2017, and negotiations began in April 2018.

The union does have a strike mandate, and job action is possible after March 28.

The final day of the winter semester is April 11 and final exams are scheduled to begin on April 15.

Both sides have said they do not want to see a strike or lockout that would disrupt classes. However, it is a possibility and one that adds uncertainty for some students coming to the end of their degrees.

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This includes Joshua Ajakavie, a computer science student who is in his final semester.

“I’m not sure how much it’s going to affect my funding, because I don’t know if I’ll have to repay for those classes if they get cancelled now or what the policy is concerning all that,” he said.

Ajakavie is also an international student from Nigeria. His mom has already purchased plane tickets to watch his convocation ceremony in June. Ajakavie is worried job action could push back his graduation.

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“Pushing it back to November, she’d still have to come this June and then still come in November again, so it still affects funds,” he said.

The University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) is calling on administration and the faculty association to consider the impact job action could have on students before returning to the bargaining table later this month.

“A strike or lockout will jeopardize the future education of several students. There are international students with study permits expiring on May 1 who will need to return home,” URSU wrote in a statement.

“There are students who have accepted jobs that start May 1 across the province and in other countries who cannot wait for their semester to end.”

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Other students, like religious studies major Zoe Yanush, are a little worried but don’t anticipate much disruption.

“Honestly, they’d probably just give us an extension on our finals,” she said.

Both URFA president Sylvain Rheault and U of R provost Thomas Chase have said they want to avoid job action, but plans are being developed in the event of a strike or lockout.

Rheault said usually university strikes last for four or five days.

“In the worst case scenario, let’s say two or three weeks, we’ll try to arrange for makeup exams and stuff like that,” Rheault said.

“We’re going to do everything we can to avoid that, should job action occur there will be information on our website for students, for parents and community members,” Chase said.

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