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Shorter winter break in sight for students as U of Manitoba strike enters 3rd week

Click to play video: 'University of Manitoba students prepare for third week of strike' University of Manitoba students prepare for third week of strike
The University of Manitoba has shared academic timelines for what to expect depending on how long the strike continues. – Nov 21, 2021

The University of Manitoba and its professors will enter its third week of strike action Wednesday. The stress is heightening for students like Lindsy Degagne, as the weeks go by and classes continue to be cancelled.

“There’s a lot of fear and confusion. It’s really hard to get a straight message from the university when they’re still working through it,” she says.

Read more: University of Manitoba faculty wants province to leave wage talks alone

Degagne is in her second year of university pursuing a social work degree. Four of her five classes have been temporarily postponed because her professors are a part of the strike.

“We don’t have really any control over the situation. It’s a lot of powerlessness I think.”

The U of M and its professors have been striking since Nov. 2, leaving thousands of students in the dark about when classes could resume.

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“At first I think there was a little bit of anger towards the professors,” she says. “But it’s really important that we support them because they’re doing it so that we can have a higher quality of education. It’s hard to go to a good university when professors don’t want to work there.”

Read more: Teachers, students dismayed after University of Manitoba admin locks online learning site

The union representing professors, instructors and librarians is asking for a wage increase. They say the U of M is one of the lowest-paying universities in Canada and an increase would help with retention.

On Friday, the university released new academic timelines for students depending on how long the strike continues. It included moving the academic schedule as a result.

“That was just completely terrifying when my friends and I saw that,” Degagne says.

“As the strike continues, there will be significant changes required to the academic schedule to maintain the integrity of our courses and programs, and to ensure requirements for accreditation.” The University of Manitoba wrote in a press release.

The university has published scenarios one and two online.

Scenarios three and four are also available online.

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If the strike continues to Wednesday, the U of M will enter scenario three. This means the winter break will begin Dec. 24 for classes that were interrupted, pushed back from the original date of Dec. 10, with classes resuming Jan. 5.

“I’m not really foreseeing a way for me to relieve stress that I’ll accumulate from my four classes returning when the strikes ends and I don’t have a Christmas break,” Degagne says.

However, Brendan Scott, president of the University of Manitoba Students Union, says adding class days for what should have been time off during the holidays is inevitable.

“We have to make the lost days and there’s a certain amount of teaching days that has to be acquired in order for the semester to count,” Scott says.

Read more: Striking faculty union says new deal tabled with University of Manitoba administration

If the strike persists past Dec. 1, students will then lose their annual spring reading week to make up for more lost class time.

“The students who didn’t have a single paused class are now realizing the strike does affect them because they can’t start their winter semester until everyone else is caught up,” Scott says.

As for Degagne, she says  she’s hoping it just doesn’t last that long.

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“We just want this to end as soon as possible and we also want people to understand the stress that this is causing.”

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