CapU Strike’s Impact on Summer Students
Eugenia De Coss (she/her) // contributor
Jasmine Linton (she/her) // illustrator
June 6 began as a perfect summer day. While warning signs of the imminent strike had been present across campus for several days, none of us could have guessed it would reach our summer classes.
In one day, classes had been cancelled for over 4,000 students, leading to the discontinuation of academic and other essential support services. We were up the creek without a paddle—totally uncertain on what we should be doing, what our summer semester would look like, and what this would mean for those of us trying to graduate.
Students were given two options, either to withdraw from classes-–which they had already begun and turned in assignments for—or to continue handing in assignments for credit rather than a grade. Among the worst of us affected were students with children, who were expected to continue working and completing schoolwork, unexpectedly without the support of the CapU Childcare Centre. Parents were left scrambling for a temporary solution, adding increased expenses and stress halfway through the semester. As well, international students had no other option than to continue struggling through assignments without proper instructions, due dates, or feedback, as withdrawing from classes would mean the loss of their visas.
According to Karandeep Sanghera, the president of the Capilano Students’ Union, “It was causing chaos. Students didn’t know what to do.”
Summer courses are only eight weeks long, making them more intense than regular classes. Interruptions in those eight weeks could have severe impacts on the course outcomes and students’ satisfaction with their schooling.
Amy Llles reported to CBC News her own unique challenges during the strike. As a second-year student in the Rehabilitation Assistant program, she was meant to have a week off after her coursework and before the beginning of her practicum, which she had already planned a vacation over. This week was taken by professors hoping to catch up on missed coursework—meaning she wouldn’t have the chance to catch up on that work. This caused anxiety surrounding her graduation date—having to retake a course would mean she wouldn’t graduate by December like she had hoped. The uncertainty over graduation was something students across all programs shared.
Third-year psychology student, Katerina Derbas, reported to North Shore News the general anxiety students were feeling. Derbas began an online petition to end the strike for the students, eventually reaching her goal with over 500 student signatures. According to Derbas, “everything was left in limbo.” She’d paid $3,000 dollars tuition for four summer courses but luckily had dropped two classes when she suspected a probable strike. Derbas explains that students who were expected to graduate by the end of summer were impacted the most.
Niko Williamson, a third-year Interdisciplinary Studies student, decided to withdraw from all her courses for a refund. She was disappointed that all the work she had already put into her courses was in vain–but decided she did not want to continue working on assignments without faculty support. I found the same struggle that Williamson did, but decided to finish my course for credit. The uncertainty of completing assignments without guidance was difficult for my work ethic and motivation, and made me feel like I wasn’t getting everything out of the class that I had hoped for. Thankfully, I was still able to finish the semester, despite some late and rushed assignments.
By sharing students’ experiences from different programs and years of study, it is evident that the strike had caused deep distress on staff and students. Everyone had a unique situation impacted by the lack of support from staff, lack of communication from the school, and uncertainty in their path of studies. While the Strike officially reached a tentative agreement on July 21, students may still be dealing with the ramifications on their program completion and budgets—with hope, we will be able to adapt and get back on the right track.