Answers from the Dean

Questions From the York Strike 2008 Undergraduate Community

1. Can the University simply write off a semester or the year and not give any credits to students that have paid? If that is the case, at what point will tuition be reimbursed if instruction time is not made up? If that isn’t the case, what measures is the university preparing to compensate for students’ missed lecture and tutorial times?

We cannot write off a semester or a year, and we have no plans to do so. Obviously if the year were written off, students would be entitled to a refund.  When the strike is ended, the Senate Executive will oversee the process of making up for lost time.  It may not be the case that every lost hour will be replaced, but enough will be done to ensure that the learning objectives of the courses are met.

2. A) What are the steps to ensure that the academic semester, and possibly year, is not lost? 

When we know how much time we have to make up, we will have a better sense of how it is to be done.  We may cancel Reading Week, for example, and/or we may extend the term at the end, and/or we may reduce the total number of teaching days by a small amount.  I believe all of these things were done in 2000-01 aftrt he last CUPE 3903 strike.

B) Under what conditions will the University determine whether students simply cannot make up the time to garner their credits?

I do not believe we would allow things to reach that stage before making other arrangements for people to finish.

C) There is specific concern for 3 credit fall courses. Will they be continued in the winter term if they cannot be completed in the fall term? 


3. Will an increase in Union member wages and benefits augment undergraduate tuition, residence etc?

I don’t understand the question.  Do you mean the costs of tuition etc. might rise if we spend a lot on settling this contract?  There are limits to how much we can raise tuition, but we would have to seek additional revenue somewhere, I guess. 

4. If the strike causes the academic year to be extended into the normal summer months will we be expected to pay for residence in undergraduate and graduate residences?

I assume that is a possibility.  You should check with Housing Services.

5. If the year is extended what will happen to “compressed programmes” such as 2nd entry nursing that have year round full time course loads? If students in such programmes are required to enroll in summer courses will they be expected to juggle more than 15 credits during any overlap period?

I’m not sure ho we will deal with compressed programmes; Senate Executive will have to address the issue.  I don’t believe we would overlap the Winter and Summer terms.

6. Faculty of Education students are required to do practicums (in class room teaching). The faculty has had to cancel their block plans and has to reschedule. How will the University give students the opportunity to graduate on time with the requisite amount of practicum hours?  

Education is wrestling with that issue. There will come a point (not yet) when it will be necessary toi resume practica in order to get the requisite number of days in before the end of term.

7. a) The Union appears to be persistent on a 2 year contract so that they can participate with other CUPE locals in 2010 for a much larger bargaining project. Will the University ever sign a 2 year agreement? Explain.

Never say never.  This remains an issue for negotiation.  If the only thing left on the table were the length of the contract, which side would blink?

b) Under what conditions will the University be willing to sign a two year agreement, if this appears to be the only hope to end this strike?

See above answer.

c) If the University, nor the Union, can be expected to agree on any terms for an agreement, is it a safe assumption that the provincial government could enact back-to-work legislation, whereby a forced arbitration takes place? Why or why not? 

The province is very reluctant to intervene in autonomous universities and I presume would do so only if it looked like the term could not be salvaged.

8. Will York University charge interest to outstanding student accounts during the strike? 

I presume they might, as students are not prevented from paying their debts by reason of the strike.

9. Will York University refund bus passes that students purchased with the intent of having a reliable means of transportation from their homes to the school, and back? Similarly, will the University refund parking passes for the disrupted weeks?

I don’t believe so, but this is not my area of responsibility.

10. Many international students are constrained by study permits and visas. What will the University do to rectify a situation where international students are no longer legally allowed to study in Canada? 

I presume the University will assist such students in seeking an extension oft heir visas.  You should ask this question of York International.

11.a) What will happen to students graduating this year? If the strike goes on for a longer period of time, will graduation be effected? Explain.

Convocation may be delayed, but it will take place.

b)Will deadlines be pushed back for graduate applicants? If not, will committees, or departments be asked to give special consideration to students at York?

Generally we have asked that application deadline, especially where letters of reference or transcripts are delayed, be treated flexibly. However it is not always our call.

12. If – and when – an agreement is signed between the Union and the University, how long will it take for students to return to class? How much notice will we be given?

Once a tentative agreement has been ratified, I presume classes would resume almost immediately.  You might not get more than a day’s notice, but you will know a couple of days ahead that an offer is being sent to ratification.

13. Many students require OSAP to live and study during the academic year and then have jobs during the summer. For these people who have OSAP funding until the usual end of the school year, will the University make arrangements with OSAP to extend that funding further if the strike prolongs the academic year?

I don’t know the answer.  You should ask Student Financial Services.

14. In the negotiations with YUFA in 1997 the University was strongly opposed to any binding arbitration. Indeed, it has been 11 years, but what has changed? The University made many very strong arguments against binding arbitration: 

 In 1997 I was not a member of the Administration, so I can’t vouch for their reasoning, however I think it may have been because in that year the Employer wanted significant changes in the YUFA contract, whereas now, we would like only small changes in the CUPE 3903 contract.

“Arbitration risks handing over the future of the institution, and the definition of a new contract for faculty, to a third party who cannot possibly appreciate the subtleties and complexities of a university such as York. University administrators and faculty must determine an effective contract and its budgetary implications through collective bargaining. Engaging in arbitration on these issues is tantamount to allowing an outsider who has no continuing interest in, or commitment to, the University to have the authority to decide academic priorities for the institution. The arbitrator, unlike faculty and administration, is not accountable for making his or her decision work. Arbitrators do not have to find the money to meet the costs of their judgements, nor must they live with the impact of their decisions. 

Some might note that arbitration is a standard way to end disputes in other sectors (e.g. in the essential public services sector) and in other universities. For example, at the University of Toronto there are negotiations on compensation matters between the administration and the Faculty Association. If the negotiations fail to resolve matters the final positions of the two parties are put to arbitration. However, there is a good reason for this process: faculty at the University of Toronto do not belong to a labour union and, therefore, have no legal right to strike as a means for forcing the resolution of a dispute. At the U of T, the parties must have some alternative method in place for resolving an impasse on compensation negotiations. For YUFA, as with other trade unions, the right of employees to withdraw their services is the ultimate method of resolving disputes.”

15. Can question #13 be explained by the University’s low profit from last year? Is the University in rough financial condition?

Universities are not profit-making enterprises.  However it is true that the University is facing serious financial challenges, especially as government funding may be affected by the current economic downturn.


Well, I would like to thank Dean Drummond for being very quick in his reply. I hope this gives some of you some answers to your questions. On some of the questions he told us where to go instead of finding out for us. I am sure he has some assistants that could have run down to Financial Services or York International to find out! 


Anyways, Thanks Dean Drummond for the answers and I hope this helps some of you.






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35 responses to “Answers from the Dean

  1. abc

    talk about less than satisfactory answers….

  2. yorkstrike2008


  3. Sarah

    Still, I’m relieved to read the year won’t be a write-off.

  4. Nathan

    What would you have liked him to say? He addressed the principle issues.

    1. Semesters will not be lost. <– this is the most key issue.
    2. The University is flexible re: a 2 year deal if it comes to that.
    3. The University is in fact facing financial difficulty.

    All the other stuff is not his jurisdiction. The head of the negotiation team is not the head of the University. If you wanted him to run to all the departments and get answers, he could have, but then your reply would have been 1-2 weeks down the road. Besides, it’s not his responsibility to answer questions that do not involve his job. Why do you assume he has assistants – just because of his salary? Why do you assume those assistants have nothing better to do than to run to various departments asking questions?

    He’s told you where to ask. Why don’t we all ask those departments the very same questions?

    The other thing is that there is a very high degree of uncertainty. I know everyone wants concrete answers, but if the University can’t concretely plan things because it doesn’t know what will happen, it’s better for them to say that than to lie to your faces.

    The other thing is “we would like only small changes in the CUPE 3903 contract.”

    That doesn’t make sense given what the Union and the mediator is saying.

  5. Nathan

    “and how lazy bureaucrats are.”

    So… if you asked the guy working at Tim Horton’s “how much did Tim’s make in the last quarter” and he didn’t know, would you expect him to run to HQ and get the answer for you, or would you expect him to tell you “check our website or call HQ at this number or talk to the manager”?

  6. Laura

    Considering how vague everyone else is being on the matter, these answers are not half-bad. A lot of these questions just CAN’T be answered right now at all; like Nathan said there is a high degree of uncertainty.

  7. Shal

    Universities are not profit-making enterprises?

  8. A student


    While you remain unsatisfied at the answers, i must say I am quite happy. What Yorkstrike2008 and others have managed to do, in terms of attracting the attention of and having the Dean actually answer questions is a pretty damn good thing if I say so.

    abc: can you blame him? The Dean’s a bureaucrat so a canned answer (this one not much so) is an inevitability.

    Kudos to Yorkstrike 2008 and the gang for making this possible.

  9. UndergradSupporter

    @ Nathan
    Nathan, you’re right, the guy working the counter doesn’t have to know how much Tim Horton’s made last quarter. But the CEO definitely should?

    Could you elaborate on said sheds?

  10. Nathan

    I’m just saying that people are experts in their own field (in this case, negotiations), and it is a proper thing to direct any questions to the respective departments, rather than making a less informed statement based on personal knowledge.

    The Tim Horton’s adage was not exactly good (my apologies), but I don’t think people should call the Dean lazy just because he said “talk to the people responsible for making the decisions regarding this question.”

    It would appear that the various departments (parking, retail, vendors, catering, etc…) at York are fairly autonomous in terms of policy making.

  11. Sarah

    and there was no mention of how long the strike is estimated to go on …

  12. ff

    if anyone knew how long the strike was going to be – i would suggest they post their lotto picks here as well.

  13. A student


    How is the Dean supposed to know that kind of information?

    Wanting to know when the strike is going to end is a bit like the Heisenberg principle…

  14. A student


    46 days, 12 hours and 3 1/2 minutes is my estimation.

  15. Sarah

    well, I did not mean an exact estimation like that “A student”… a good answer to my question would be : considering the fact that no agreement has been reached during past week, it would be safe to assume that none is going to be reached for at least another week, since there is no plans for negotiation until then…or maybe that’s a real poor estimation…anyways…I really am unhappy with the situation since there is no information based on which I can make plans for my time and save it from going to waste like this!..I just am upset because I feel that my right to be able to make good use of my time is being ignored…

  16. Milky Way


    The next GMM is scheduled for next Thursday so the earliest we can get back to class is next Friday by the most optimistic measure.

    I really can’t realistically see a date in coming weeks where we can get back to class …

  17. Nathan

    I picked January 12th in our lab pool.

    But yes, the Union’s MEDIATOR said that there was nothing productive that could be gained in talks at the moment. So we’re in this for the long haul.

  18. Boo

    I should’ve booked a mexican vacation

  19. A student


    I have noticed that in the event of a strike, people become quickly divided into roughly 4 groups:

    a) those who function otherwise doing something else and wait patiently until the strike ends.
    b) those who think that some kind of action collectively among students will result in a difference to hasten the end of the strike.
    c) those who vociferously repudiate or defend union actions and/or admin action.
    d) those who panic and/or otherwise cannot cope with the semblance of the big unknown in dealing with a strike.

    I can sympathize with people who require answers on how long the strike will last, but I doubt your right to be able to make good use of your time is ignored. I imagine there are other things to which you can attend during this strike…

  20. A student

    @ Sarah:

    “… a good answer to my question would be : considering the fact that no agreement has been reached during past week, it would be safe to assume that none is going to be reached for at least another week, since there is no plans for negotiation until then…or maybe that’s a real poor estimation.”

    It seems you were able to answer your own question then 🙂

  21. A student

    If I had to bet, January is when we’ll see classes…

  22. yorkstrike2008


    I retract and deleted my comment. I do agree with you. The Dean did a great job, he was quick and courteous in his response.

    He holds a position of responsibility and liability and he is not in a position to be speaking on behalf of the responsibilities of other departments.

  23. yorkstrike2008


    If by November you are all caught up in readings, all your papers are done and your studying is done for your exams then I want either the homework monkey in your closet, your robot features or you need a life.

    The strike was a blessing for my school work and my health…

  24. abc

    Yeah, I understood when I made my comment that the reason he wasn’t able to answer all of the question was simply because, well, he couldn’t. But since we are all in the argumentative mode, I must bring up the fact that his inability to do a little research does not invalidate my point that his answers were, infact, less than satisfactory. While I dont take back what I said, it should be noted that it was more of a matter-of-fact comment than a full fledged criticism. (sigh)

  25. A student

    @ yorkstrike2008

    You’d think your comments were sage advice but a lot of people seem to be unable to cope with the uncertainty they think the strike brings with it.

    During the last strike, I actually did as you suggested – I finished everything, had heaps of times, actually attended the classes during strike, etc. Was a good little students until the strike was over, the profs redid everything entirely and I actually was pretty much fubar’d since we were told to reread everything…

    I’ve hit 3 pubs this week and will continue doing so with other people who seem to enjoy this bit of respite…

  26. UndergradSupporter

    I think the tone on this forum is very respectable. People here have…. I don’t know, good manners. I really like how discussions are going.

    @ Sarah and anyone wondering about the length of the strike

    As I’ve said before, York is the most socialist girl at the ball (that’s not a bad thing) and the union is putting up a mean mean fight. Because I am not a believer in miracles that involve “administration” of any sort or dollar amounts with that many zeros in them, the strike won’t be over this week. The Mediator came out and said “Nothing productive thus far” and the university is still on the Binding Arbitration train. Regardless, I can 100% understand your anxiety.

    My advice to everyone at York, take this time to restore yourself. Spend time with family, friends, go for a walk, read a book, the Sound of Music is playing, go see it. Take a vacation! Go for a day trip around Ontario, take pictures, post them on Facebook. Send them to your grandparents as “Strike Greetings!” Go volunteer at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter. Or just go dancing. Catch up on Grey’s Anatomy/30 Rock/Dexter. Whatever. Start watching “Weeds.” Get a group together and make an RBC Next Great Innovator submission. Pick up extra hours at work. Learn to swim… team someone else to swim. Join a gym. Smile, have fun and finish all your work or at least a good chunk of it. 🙂

  27. Guess Who

    @ A Student

    Due to this strike, I am enjoying the bit where we get holidays. But, the uncertainty of me going back home to spend time with my family is killing me.

    The only reason I want to know how long this strike lasts is because I want to go back home if nothing is happening at university.

    I for one want to know how long the strike is going to last so that I can decide whether to book a ticket and go back home or stay on rez.

    I am just wasting my time doing nothing. Just waiting for an official statement by the university so that I can decide what to do with my uncertain future.

  28. yorkstrike2008

    @ A Student

    I am enjoying myself as well, of course. Three pubs this week, plus 3 am chicken wings and pancakes at the golden griddle 🙂 last night.

    Just write papers and assignments I suppose is the best advice. Those will always be due…at some point.

  29. h student

    I have no assignments, just midterms and finals left. I heard that some professors have already contacted students in certain courses saying that the final exam would be canceled and that their mark would be based on the work they have done so far. Based on this, should I start studying for future midterms/finals that may never happen?

  30. Bobby

    on the first day of the strike i went bowling and i wore my york shirt. every time i got a strike, my friend’s took a pic of me infront of the screen that said ‘STRIKE’ and i just thought it was hilarious.

  31. york student

    to h student,

    I am in a professional program and I wouldnt hire me if I only knew half the material.
    If profs decided to do that I would fight against it.

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  33. york student

    @ undergrad supporter

    i am with u, i am caught up on both 30 r ock and grey’s…i have to admit this strike did allow me to do something other than school work

  34. josie

    are we really gonna have extended fall 3 credit courses- and have to make up class time in the winter semester? i hope we can go back before january

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