Understanding Student Rights During the Labour Disruption: Your Questions Answered

Posted by York & U on March 15, 2018

Get In The Know | York & U

By now, members of the York University community are aware that CUPE 3903, the union for teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants at York, is on strike. Labour disputes and university governance may be unfamiliar to you, and you understandably have questions.

The interests of students are paramount to York University and it’s important that you understand your rights during the labour disruption. The #YUBlog has created the following video and blog post to help you get a handle on Senate Policy 008. We have also included answers to the most frequently asked questions we’ve received over the past week. Be sure to check our glossary of terms at the end of this post if you are unsure of the meaning of words like “arbitration” or “remediation”.

Understand Student Rights During the Labour Disruption

To learn more about your academic rights and responsibilities during a labour disruption, watch our video with York’s Vice-Provost, Students, Lucy Fromowitz:

As a York University student, it is important that you have a clear understanding of your rights and responsibilities during a strike as outlined in York University Senate policy. Essentially, all classes that can continue will continue, and you have the right to choose whether or not you participate in academic activities during the strike. Whether you choose to attend your classes or not, you have the right to:

• immunity from penalty;
• reasonable alternative access to materials covered during your absence; and
• reasonable extensions of deadlines.

This means that you cannot be penalized (for example, through grades, workload or deadlines) if you choose to attend class or not during the disruption. Additionally, academic remediation (e.g. remedies to compensate for time missed during the strike) will be made once the strike has ended to help you complete your courses successfully and to ensure that the quality of your courses is consistent. You also have the right to timely information regarding changes to requirements, rescheduled academic activities and remediation options.

Understand Student Responsibilities During the Labour Disruption & Remediation

You should be aware that you are still responsible for mastering the course material. During a labour disruption, you are not guaranteed the same learning experience that you would normally have received, but academic remediation will be in place to ensure that you can complete your courses. Remediation may include academic accommodations, modifications of normal academic regulations and/or adjustments to class and examination schedules.

Considering these rights and responsibilities, it is in students’ best interests to keep up with course material where you can, remain enrolled in your classes and complete your requirements. Once the strike comes to an end, you will be informed about remediation measures that can help you complete your courses and any outstanding work.

If you are concerned about your academic rights during the labour disruption or have questions about your rights, contact your course director or professor to discuss your options for completing the course. If you would like to speak to someone other than your professor, you can direct your questions to your Faculty designate, which can be found on my.yorku.ca or the course status website.

Student Questions, Answered

For the second part of this post, the #YUBlog sourced answers to York students’ frequently asked questions on social media. Please note that you can find a full list of up-to-date student FAQs on York’s Labour Negotiation Update website.

1. “Are all courses cancelled?”

The University remains open. All classes that can continue are continuing. Some classes have been suspended by course instructors on a case-by-case basis to protect academic integrity but all classes have not been cancelled. Read the Senate Policy for details about academic integrity and fairness to students.

Find specific, regularly updated information about your classes, labs and tutorials at my.yorku.ca or www.yorku.ca/coursestatus.

2. “Can I still apply for summer session OSAP?”

Yes. Student Financial Services is reviewing and processing summer OSAP applications. If you’re planning to register in courses and need to apply for financial support, complete the summer OSAP application as soon as possible to ensure that your funds are available when classes begin.

For information about eligibility and the processing of the summer OSAP application, visit the OSAP website.

For detailed information about the application process for summer session OSAP, check out our previous #YUBlog post, “Understanding OSAP: Summer Session”.

3. “What happens if I choose not to cross picket lines or participate in academic activities including midterms, assignments, classes, tests, etc?”

You have the right to choose whether you participate in academic activities or not during the strike, and you cannot be penalized if you choose to attend class or not during the disruption. If you choose not to cross picket lines or participate in academic activities, your first step should be to notify your course instructor of your plans. If you are unable to contact your instructor, contact your Faculty designate.

The academic remediation offered under the York University Senate policy will vary depending on the nature of the course work, but it may include options such as modifications of normal academic regulations and/or adjustments to class and examination schedules. You will be notified of remediation measures in place once an end date for the strike is known.

4. “Can I continue with my course placement, practicum, senior project or directed reading(s) during the labour disruption?”

During the labour disruption, please consult with your department or Faculty for information regarding your course placement, practicum, senior project or directed reading(s).

5. “Is the 2018 winter session drop date being extended due to the disruption?”

In view of the disruption that began on March 5, the Executive Committee of Senate has determined the Winter term Course Drop Deadline date and Course Withdrawal (W transcript notation) Period will be extended. The extension will apply to Winter term courses only and there is no adjustment for courses for which the Winter term drop date fell prior to March 5.

Students may drop Winter term courses without receiving a grade or “W” transcript notation until further notice.

Note that dropping courses may impact your graduation status and your OSAP eligibility. Please review the information here about changes that impact financial aid: osap.yorku.ca/check-your-eligibility.

If you have questions regarding your program, direct your questions to your Faculty.

6. “Is the 2018 winter session being extended due to the disruption?”

At this time, there are no changes anticipated to the winter session. You will be notified of any changes to the winter session via email. You can also check York’s Labour Negotiation Update website and sign up for email updates to receive the latest news.

7. “Will the 2018 summer session still continue?”

At this time, there are no changes anticipated and the summer term dates will proceed as scheduled. Please check the Summer 2018 Sessional Dates webpage for details. The Faculty of Education, Osgoode Hall Law School and the Schulich School of Business may have additional dates which they will communicate to their students directly.

8. “When the strike ends, how long will it take before we know when suspended courses will resume?”

You have the right to timely information regarding changed requirements, rescheduled academic activities and remediation procedures at the conclusion of the strike. The Senate Executive Committee will widely circulate information about labour disruption updates, including any changes to session dates, remediation, accommodations, or other information that affects your progress via email, York’s Labour Negotiation Update website, messages on University websites, social media and by other means as soon as it is available.

9. “I’m experiencing increased levels of stress and anxiety due to the disruption. Where can I go for support?”

Student Counselling & Development provides a professional and supportive environment in which you can discuss any challenges you may be having during the labour disruption. If you live in residence, you may also reach out to Residence Life staff (e.g. Residence Dons).

If you’d like to speak to someone about your thoughts and feelings regarding the labour disruption after regular business hours, we suggest contacting Good2Talk. Good2Talk is a free, confidential and anonymous 24/7/365 helpline providing professional counselling, information and referrals for mental health, addictions and well-being to postsecondary students in Ontario. You can contact Good2Talk at 1-866-925-5454.

You might also consider the WellTrack app, an interactive self-help tool available to all York students. It can help you assess your mood and practice positive self-care.

If you’re an international student and would feel more comfortable talking to someone in a language other than English, the Multilingual Distress Lines can help. They’re open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 10 pm. This service is offered through Spectra Community Support Services.

Mandarin & Cantonese: 416-920-0497

Hindi, Urdu & Punjabi: 905-459-7777 ext. 2

Spanish: 905-459-7777 ext. 3

Portuguese: 905-459-7777 ext. 4

Staying Up-to-Date

Visit York’s Labour Negotiation Update website to learn more about updates regarding the labour disruption. The frequently asked questions (FAQ) section of the Labour Negotiation Update website provides the most up-to-date and accurate information about the labour disruption. You will be able to get specific, regularly updated information about your classes, labs and tutorials by visiting the courses section of my.yorku.ca, or coursestatus.yorku.ca/.

You can also register on the site to receive updates by email and you can follow @YorkUStudents on Twitter and Facebook for up-to-the-moment updates.

York is committed to supporting students during the labour disruption and it’s important to know that we are happy to answer your questions. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding during this challenging time.

Glossary of Terms

Academic activities: includes classes, labs, tutorials, tests, exams, course placement, practicum, senior project or directed reading(s).
Academic integrity: refers to the learning outcomes of your course. You should not incur any lower standard of learning outcomes from your courses as a result of the strike.
Accommodation: an alteration of environment, curriculum format or scheduling that allows an individual to gain access to content and/or complete assigned tasks.
Arbitration: a quasi-judicial process in which a disinterested third-party (an arbitrator or arbitration board) hears evidence presented by both the union and the employer on issues in dispute, and hands down a binding decision.
Collective agreement: a written contract of employment covering a group of employees who are represented by a trade union. This agreement contains provisions governing the terms and conditions of employment. It also contains the rights, privileges and duties of the employer, the trade union and the employees.
Collective bargaining: a process in which a trade union and an employer negotiate a first collective agreement or the renewal of a previous collective agreement. The parties usually focus on such issues as wages, working conditions, grievance procedures and fringe benefits.
Conciliation: a process by which a trade union or an employer can ask the Ontario Ministry of Labour for help in resolving their differences so that they can reach a collective agreement. Either party may apply to the ministry. If parties are in negotiations, they must use the government’s conciliation services before they can get into a position to engage in a strike or lock-out.
Immunity from penalty: if you choose not to attend classes, labs or tutorials (“academic activities”) you cannot be penalized for doing so, either academically (i.e. through grades, workload or deadlines) or otherwise, for making that choice.
Reasonable alternative access to materials: If you choose not to attend class, you should be provided with an alternate way of getting the course material.
Remediation: a set of steps, including revised dates and deadlines, that the University will implement to make up for the lost time as a result of the strike. Typically remediation cannot be determined until an end date for the strike is known.
Suspended: courses that are suspended are temporarily not running, but will resume as soon as the strike is over. Suspended does not mean cancelled.

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