Editorial: Students need faculty

By Mick Sweetman
Managing editor

Cover for the Dialog newspaper Aug. 24, 2012

Students are starting school this year in colleges across Ontario as the union representing faculty at the 24 colleges is drawing towards the deadline for a negotiated settle­ment with Colleges Ontario.

The Ontario Public Service Em­ployees Union is the union repre­senting more than 10,000 faculty members at colleges across Ontar­io. Faculty members include coun­sellors, instructors, professors and librarians.

On Sept. 10 union members will be voting to give the union a man­date to strike.

“The colleges are running out of time,” says Carolyn Gaunt, the faculty bargaining team co-chair. “They have had two and a half months to negotiate, and they still haven’t addressed our key issues. What are they waiting for?”

According to the union, key is­sues in negotiations are better treatment of partial-load faculty, academic freedom so that teachers rather than management determine how courses are delivered, and an updating of the workload formula to address increased online learn­ing.

This uncertainty is causing a lot of stress for students who don’t know if the classes they’ve enrolled in are going to be disrupted by a la­bour action in September.

Last year, college students saw school start in chaos as support staff workers went on strike for the first time in 32 years.

The support staff workers, were on strike for 18 days as the col­leges played hardball.

However, one thing that the col­lege administrations seem to forget is that the core value of post-sec­ondary education, and particularly that of college, isn’t in “learning outcomes” or “return on invest­ment” or other ridiculous buzz­words that are flying around in self-serving government reports.

No, the real value for students is in the quality of education that they can get in college.

There are no magic shortcuts for producing high-quality education for students. The only way students get quality post-secondary educa­tion is if they have knowledgeable, highly-trained teachers who have time to give students the kind of personal instruction that ensures they can grasp the concepts being taught.

Instructors need small class siz­es—and we’re talking about in real brick-and-mortar classrooms not isolating online courses.

They need job security, not pre­carious contract-to-contract class­es where they don’t know what, or if, they’re teaching next semester.

In these negotiations leading up to a possible strike or lockout they need our support. Let’s let them know that we support our faculty and we’re in this together for ac­cessible high-quality education.

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Editorial: Students need faculty