Written By: Monday, November 13th 2017

Students at colleges across the province, including Georgian in Owen Sound, are organizing a sit-in rally for Thursday.

Faculty are heading into week number five of their walk out over a number of issues including getting more faculty on full time as well as academic freedom – being allowed to choose the way in which they teach and evaluate students.

The rally is called “ass to class’ where students are being asked to occupy the hallways of their school in order to get both sides talking again.

Georgian College Owen Sound spokesperson Wendy Eckenswiller is a mature student taking the law clerk course.

She is a single-income household with three children and worried about the length of time its taking to get back to class.

Eckenswiller says they’re holding the rally on Thursday AFTER the teachers’ vote.

She says they didn’t want to appear to be trying to sway the vote.

Although she admits they know the teachers are going to turn it down as recommended by OPSEU.

“I’ve been up there every day talking to them (teachers). Personally I wouldn’t sign the contract either, but we want the government to mandate them back”.

She says they were almost at an agreement with just one stipulation on the table – academic freedom.

The students’ group is also demanding the government provide options for college tuition refunds.

Colleges have been told to create a student hardship fund– using the wages they’re not paying to striking faculty but students say
they’d rather be given choices.

They want to be able to get a full tuition refund, just enough money to get them through an extended semester or the option to have the college hold their money and they sign up for a different semester.

Eckenswiller also says the extension of the semester to December 22nd is not going to work very well for the majority of students with jobs.

“I work for the UPS store so we do a lot of shipping that time of year. I will miss full time hours and they’re also talking about doing some online stuff in the evenings. I won’t be able to keep up with that and do my hours at work in order to pay my way through the second semester”

She says many students are also worried about getting a ‘condensed’ version of their program leaving things out of their education.

Eckenswiller says potential employers might look at them and dismiss their training because they were from the “strike year”.

She says they’re hoping for a lot of support on Thursday and any students worried that their teachers will not favour them if they join the rally she says she’s heard from teachers who are supporting it 100%.

NDP Youth is also going to support the students on Thursday.

For more information click here.