Roughly 500 University of Lethbridge faculty association members have been on strike since the second week of February. As each day goes by, students worry what a prolonged strike could mean for their future.
“We are a destination university and a lot of students come from out of town, they have jobs set up for the summer, they have leases that are expiring, overall the uncertainty is just very taxing,” said Holly Kletke, the president of the U of L Students’ Union.
She added many students continue to wonder whether the semester will be cancelled as administration has not provided a timeline.
“All that they have said is that they are committed to finishing the spring semester with whatever it takes, and I think that is fair, and I think that that is what students are looking for.”
Another round of mediation has been scheduled for next week. University of Lethbridge Faculty Association president Dan O’Donnell said the longest strike at a Canadian university was three months and the semester was still salvaged.
“There is no reason why the semester should be cancelled because it has never happened in the country before.”
Another growing concern from those involved is the long-term impacts to the university’s image.
O’Donnell said with impacts to student practicums and research grants, damage has already been done.
“I hate to say it, but I think — without a doubt — that the reputation of this university has been set back at least a decade.”
The U of L issued a statement on Monday.
“It is not uncommon for labour disruption to occur as part of the collective bargaining process,” the statement reads in part.
“Strikes are a legally protected labour negotiation tactic. The University of Lethbridge remains of Alberta and Canada’s most reputable universities, and home to some of the world’s top researchers in their field.”
The next round of mediation is slated for four days and is set to begin March 14.