11 Apr Statement Regarding Mediation Failure and Next Steps
The UPEISU is extremely dissatisfied to see the mediation process between the University and the UPEIFA end with no agreement reached. Students across UPEI are now more frustrated, concerned, and anxious about the situation than they have ever been.
The UPEI Student Union represents students and only students. We understand that arbitration may not be the most satisfactory negotiation method to some parties; however, we do believe it is the most beneficial to students at this dire period. Furthermore, we believe that arbitration is the best and last chance for students to ensure we can finish our courses on time and receive our credits. The survey conducted by the SU showed the chief priorities for students are getting their credits awarded, graduating on time, and moving on without fear of a semester extension.
Time is now of the essence for all three of these issues. With the final day of classes approaching, the UPEISU is supporting the idea of interest arbitration. The arbitration process will fast-track negotiations and give students a chance to end their courses in a semi-normal way; with credits awarded, no semester extension, and convocation happening on time.
We have received many testimonials from students outlining the suffering that they are going through, and what additional financial and mental stress they’ll be forced to endure if we see a semester extension. Three of these testimonials are written below. These statements are indicative of the larger student response on both our survey and the testimonials we received:
“I’m a second year student in Sustainable Design Engineering and my home is in Syria. I’ve personally spent $4000, and my family combined has spent $15000, on travel to return home on May 3. These travel tickets are non-refundable. Due to problems that Syria is currently facing, I haven’t been able to travel home in 5 years. Furthermore, military paperwork makes it increasingly difficult to travel home, so I’m quite upset that I may need to change these travel plans, as I need to start planning months in advance to travel home.”
“I am currently a second-year student majoring in Kinesiology. Strikes have never been something new to me, I grew up in a place where the education system has many controversies and has led to multiple strikes during my education. However, none have been this bad. This strike has caused many stresses and negative impacts on my mental state due to the instability in my life. This far along in the semester, I am found at a point where I cannot seem to focus on my education that I have paid for since I cannot even tell you when I will find myself back in a classroom. In addition, the idea of pushing our semester back is causing loads of anxiety on my family and I since I have already purchased and reserved a flight back home after my scheduled exams. As I am sure you are all aware, a large portion of this institution is composed of students not originating from the island, therefore we have all already found our accommodations to go back to our homes after this semester. I strongly do not believe that the students’ best interest is at heart during this strike, because if it would, I would be sitting in a class this afternoon pursuing the education I paid and worked very hard to pay. Which then leads me to my next point, financial support. If you extend our semester, would you reimburse everyone’s plane tickets that are non-refundable? No. However, I do very much hope we get back every penny of our education we did not receive during this strike. Many of us, including myself, must work multiple jobs to help pay for their education. I do not have anyone else but myself to support right now, however I do not believe that it is fair that I am working so hard to pay for an education I am not receiving. I could be working full time during this instant, however, the instability of when we are going back to learning is causing me to not be able to take shifts too far in advance since I may or may not have school in the upcoming days.
“As hectic and unorganized this may have been, I hope both parties start considering students and their needs, since after all, this institution would not be running without us.”
“I wanted to reach out as an international 1st-year veterinary student attending Atlantic Veterinary College. I wanted to share some of the struggles I, along with other veterinary students, are facing with the strike to help with your student testimonials. As an international student, I pay $70,570 per year to attend AVC, not including rent, utilities, food, etc. The strike has impacted me financially, as every day I am not in class, I am losing quite a lot of money. I do understand that I signed up to pay the tuition price, but I am not being taught, so it feels like my money is being wasted. I am appreciative of the efforts being made to help refund some of the money lost. Another issue I am facing is with each passing day/week, the threat of extending the semester is becoming more and more likely. This will cut into my summer job, where I earn money that goes towards tuition, rent, food, and the overall cost of living on the island. It doesn’t seem fair that the students are now going to suffer financially even more than we already have because of the potential extension of the semester.
I would also like to touch on what it is like to be an international student. I have not seen my family and friends for months. I live too far away to travel home and be able to get back quickly when the strike ends. I am looking forward to going home to be with my family over the summer. However, the stress of not knowing when this strike will end, when I am going to see my family, and not knowing what is going to happen next has impacted my mental health negatively. My anxiety has progressively gotten worse as the strike has gotten longer and longer. The motivation I have to go over material learned before the strike is no longer because it all feels pointless.”