A small yet passionate crowd of professors, union members and the occasional curious student convened outside the Clock Tower last Friday morning for TRUFA’s rally.
Whether or not students would be in jeopardy of having their classes cancelled in the coming weeks has been in question since the winter semester began, however the general consensus from professors attending the rally last week was one of concern for their pupils and a commitment to providing the best post-secondary education possible.
Senior lecturer Wendy Krauza said an increase in class sizes over the past five years has taken a toll on teachers at TRU.
“It has taken a toll on our energy levels, our morale,” she said.
Also attending the rally was English Language teacher Karen Desnky,
“For me, when I watch the TRUSU ads, when students talk about what a great campus, what a great university this is, they always talk about small class sizes and relationships with teachers,” she said.
“The pressure is on to increase class sizes…and to have a migrant teaching faculty…that’s not going to serve students best.”
Krauza said job security was another main focus.
“We have teachers who have been with us for nine or ten years and still don’t have job security or benefits. Every semester they’re not sure if they’re coming back,” she said.
Representing sessionals at the rally was history teacher and TRUFA executive member John Hart.
“The people on this campus that need help are sessionals,” Hart said.
“We are the lowest paid sessionals in Canada by far. I have a PhD, I’m a good teacher…Our students like us.
“We’re paid 20 per cent below the base of everybody else to start and we get no increments…we feel very strongly about this,” he said.
TRUFA has said the job action so far will not impact students, however if mediation is unsuccessful, it may escalate.
TRUFA president Tom Friedman said students would not lose out if job action escalates.
“If it comes at some point in the future that we have to affect classes… As part of a solution to the strike, we would ensure that students could make up work.
“It will probably mean an extension to the semester and that has to be worked out of course at the end of the strike,” he said.