Strikes, class cancellations draw ire from students, staff

BCIT staff gather to discuss the ongoing strike action.

BCIT staff gather to discuss the ongoing strike action. Courtesy of Paul Dyson / FSA

The Link asks students, instructors how they feel about job action on campus

Instructors and support staff are not the only stakeholders in the job action that has taken place on all BCIT campuses recently.

The Link spoke with some other affected parties including students, teachers, and the representatives of institutions about the job action, and found that there are mixed feelings about the way action is being taken, as well as union demands.

Marketing instructor Tracey Renzullo told The Link that she does not believe picketing is an effective means of getting the attention of the provincial government. She does, however, have ideas that she believes might be more helpful to the cause.

“Perhaps sending hundreds of union members to Victoria may be effective,” said Renzullo, who believes there is also an opportunity to effectively strike through social media.

“You may recall that social media organized a revolution in Egypt,” she continued. “It can help to capture the attention of the local media and the provincial government.”

Renzullo adds that the decision for faculty and staff to strike or not is a sensitive one, and that the choices each individual member has made are a sensitive discussion. Regardless, she says it is a very uncertain and stressful time.

“I’m a single mother with three children, so the uncertainty around the strike has caused some anxiety,” said Renzullo. “My focus continues to be on delivering course content to the students.”

Some students at BCIT are more severely affected by the strike action, leading to more class cancellations than others.

Students in BCIT’s industrial instrumentation program attend classes ten weeks per year, at the end of which the British Columbia Industry Training Authority (ITA) issues the accreditation of apprentice, allowing them to move forward in the process.

However, with the cancellation of a few classes, or sometimes even just one, there is a strong possibility that students will not be granted program completion.

“There is a ton at stake for all of us here,” second-year industrial instrumentation student Aaron Reid told The Link.
“Our program is so condensed that missing a few days of school for us is like missing a few weeks for students in other programs.”

First-year journalism student Dianne Bankay believes that in order to avoid having final exam dates affected by the strike action, students need to raise their voices.

Bankay wrote a letter to BC Finance Minister Mike de Jong and created a petition, which she distributed to her fellow students.

“Through no fault of our own, we are not getting what we paid for,” said Bankay in her letter. “Unlike university programs, students at BCIT are in constant contact with our teachers; when we cannot access them our education suffers, to say nothing of the added stress of random class cancellations.”[hr]

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