We Stand With You: A Letter from a Striking Professor to Her Students, by Andrea Tavchar


After four days of negotiation cloaked in a media blackout, I was monitoring the OPSEU562 twitter feed in anticipation of a college strike resolution. When I heard that the college council called for a forced vote, the feed exploded. Riled students called for tuition rebates and expressed fears of a lost semester.

In this sea of confusion and uncertainly, I was relieved to see a message from one of my own students. She was missing the program, her classmates and her professors. Students, we miss you too. We would not be away from our classes if we weren’t trying to give you a better learning experience.

Over the course of the past three weeks, I’ve had many conversations with colleagues about their students. Many of these chats were about their plans for the rest of the semester, to ensure their students gain the most learning in the remaining time. Faculty realized that keeping our students updated was vital, so we turned to social media. Our intention was for faculty to tap into their individual student communities where, hopefully, they had strong connections. Students, some of you have jumped into the fray and have gotten a richer experience. Thank you for your engagement. For your feedback. For your support. And even for your criticism. One of my students questioned the rationale for the strike. But once he listened to the Metro Morning interview on CBC, he re-evaluated the issues and wrote a blog post that blew us away. We thank you for your interest, critical analysis, and support. We learn from you.

For those of you who haven’t actively engaged, I know what your silence means. Some of you feel you don’t have a seat at the table. Some of you disagree with the collective bargaining process and don’t want repercussions. But many of you are likely watching this battle and learning from it. Principles I hope you’re observing: don’t allow yourself to be disrespected; fight for what you believe in; and, one day, find a community of like-minded individuals that you can be proud to work alongside.

I have found that a strike is a complex and confusing experience. Media coverage is sparse, particularly when there aren’t a lot of daily updates, and the process of collective bargaining is foreign to many. We don’t know exactly what day we’ll return to school, but it will be soon. Please have faith that when we return you will get the best of us. And when we say we stand together, we mean together with you.