York students in limbo



York University contract professor Dhruv Jain came to the Legislature yesterday to watch the Ontario government introduce back-to-work legislation that will force him to return to the classroom.

But when he might return to the classroom was up in the air last night, after the legislation was denied speedy passage when the New Democrats voted against it. Without unanimous all-party support, MPPs now must hold a debate.

Jain, 25, teaches one full course, the introduction of African studies, and makes $14,000 a year. He struggles from month to month and lives under the poverty line.

“My parents throw in a little bit but they don’t have a lot of money. Their store is not doing very well,” Jain said after the NDP refused to support the bill yesterday in a rare Sunday sitting of the Legislature.

Jain feels as though the “academic integrity” of York is shot because the administration failed to work with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3903, to end the strike. The strike shut down the York campus on Nov. 6, when 3,300 teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants walked off the job. Conciliation and a last-ditch attempt at mediation failed.

“You are basically forcing 3,300 people to go back into a classroom they do not want to be in, not because they don’t want to teach their students but because of the way this labour conflict has been resolved,” he told the Toronto Star.

Outside on the front lawn of Queen’s Park, hundreds of protesters braved the cold weather yesterday, waving signs and loudly jeering as Premier Dalton McGuinty and MPPs listened to the introduction of the bill. “Mr. McGuinty, you messed with the wrong union,” one protester yelled so loudly that it was heard clearly inside the Legislature.

The return of 50,000 York University students to school is on hold for days because of the NDP’s refusal to support the legislation. If the debate were to end tomorrow, students could be back at school on Thursday. If it ends Wednesday, classes could start Friday or Monday, a York University spokesperson said.

NDP Leader Howard Hampton told reporters his party insists on a full debate because it refuses to be part of what he called a “manipulative process” led by McGuinty’s government.

Both the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives accused the NDP of standing in the way of a rapid end to the 11-week strike.

“It is up to the NDP to decide if they are going to use 1970s ideology to stand in the way of getting these students back in their learning environment,” Deputy Premier George Smitherman said. Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory also called on Hampton to let students get back to school.

Tory said his party will only take a minimal amount of time to debate the bill. Hampton denied that his party was responsible for blocking a quick return to classes.

“If York University got back to the bargaining table today and bargained in good faith, students could be back at school tomorrow,” Hampton said.

“The people in the driver’s seat are York University, who have refused to negotiate.” Hampton said he expects the Liberals to shut down the debate after two days. Students should “demand a rebate” from York, the NDP leader said.

Tory said the province should provide financial aid to students and parents who have paid tuition to York. “The government should think about providing some help to these students because this is not any fault of theirs,” he said. “If the year goes on beyond the scheduled end, they’ll be forced to pay rent or give up their summer job time.”

York students welcome the idea of tuition relief. Hamid Osman, president of the York Federation of Students, called for a tuition refund of at least 12 per cent “because the administration has cut down the school year to 23 weeks.”

CUPE spokesperson Tyler Shipley said the central issue in the dispute is job security for contract professors. “These are people who have been teaching for 15, sometimes 20, years at York and they have to reapply for every course they teach. That means come September, you don’t know if you have one course to teach or five.”

York spokesperson Alex Bilyk said the university “tried its hardest to get a deal” and called the legislation a “light at the end of the tunnel.”



Emphasis added.



Filed under Uncategorized

31 responses to “York students in limbo

  1. Gordon


  2. fed up

    Are we truly supposed to sympathize with Mr. Jain? He’s 25 years old and teaches ONE course. How much more than $14,000 does he think he’s worth? This, sadly, says as much about the education at York as it does about the unrealistic expectations of union members.

  3. Gordon 3


  4. B

    The title of this article makes it seem like we are worse off now versus the last 12 weeks. We are much less in limbo now; at least there is an end in sight and expectations that classes will be back on by Feb. 2nd.

    The Toronto Star = Fail.

  5. Clusterf*ck

    Too bad Howard Hampton is trying to raise the issue of chronic university underfunding in the context of this strike.

    Now, this perfectly legitimate issue won’t be taken seriously in the political arena. How unfortunate for York.

    York is underfunded relative to other universities in its class because it has no medical school (yes, that’s how it works, folks). No matter how badly off other universities are, York’s even worse off.

    Now there’s no way the issue can get addressed.

    York’s not getting a medical school, now, for a long, long time.

    What a disaster for York!

    CUPE 3903 will long be forgotten. All that anyone will remember is how York administration failed.

  6. TRUTH

    “All that anyone will remember is how York administration failed.”

    How ironic for a university with a top-rated business school.

    Shoe-licking, indeed!

  7. fed up

    The majority of universities in Ontario do not have medical schools, not just York.

  8. B

    Ontario has the majority of medical schools in Canada. But let’s face it, Canada in general doesn’t have enough medical schools. Nor do we have a great system in place for dealing with Foreign Medical Graduates. It’s why we are forecasting a physician shortage.

  9. TRUTH

    … relative to other universities *in its class* …

    Queens, McMaster, Western.

    Think of York’s size and academic diversity to see the comparison.

  10. We were ALL FORCED

    No matter what the university says. We are all forced to go back to school. STUDENT DID NOT GET THE OPTION TO DROP THE YEAR FOR FREE. If they drop, they will have to loose their money. Consequence: we are forced to go back and follow their arrangement, because we cannot choose.

  11. TRUTH

    This is a video to boost moral and make us even stronger


    Solidarity Forever

    Viva la Revolution
    Go Cupe Go

  12. Bonnie

    Does ANYONE care about the students???

  13. TRUTH

    Whoever this impersonating me with this “Viva la Revolution” can fuck off.

  14. Int'l

    I agree with the NDP, we want a rebate on our money!
    I am not rushing my fall and winter semesters off especially in the unstable environment we will have returned to!
    We, especially the international students should get together and demand our money back!

  15. TRUTH(iness)

    Here’s ‘truthiness’ from the article:

    ” York spokesperson Alex Bilyk said the university “tried its hardest to get a deal” and called the legislation a “light at the end of the tunnel.” ”

    No, York did not try hard at all to get a deal. They tried their hardest to not get a deal and, instead, wait the union out in hopes that it would capitulate.

    They didn’t dry. They didn’t care. They didn’t care about 50,000 students.

  16. TRUTH

    Posters here know that I dont use the “F” word ever. These kinds of insults are for capitalist monsters and their imperialist agenda

    Solidarity Forever

    Demand the Impossible

    Viva la Revolution
    Go CUPE Go

  17. fed up

    Anyone who thinks that York is in the same ‘class’ as Queens, McMaster or Western is delusional.

  18. Hasan Kachal

    What is CUPE?

  19. TRUTHiness

    “Anyone who thinks that York is in the same ‘class’ as Queens, McMaster or Western is delusional.”

    Well, your thinking underlying this statement is essentially the point. York is comparable to these schools in size, funding and academic diversity, save and except the fact that it has no medical school.

    A medical school makes a big difference. It’s strange that a school the size of York doesn’t have one.

  20. @ All

    With the installment of Mamdouh Shoukri, a Medical School was purportedly underway…my sense is that is still the case? I’m not very sure what the exact ramifications of this strike are on THOSE plans, but I insist that it might not hurt it all that much.

    Another important thing to consider is that if a medical school fails, a strictly engineering faculty will take its place.

    I WISH I had the source for you guys, but this was around the time when Shoukri was inaugurated….he said things to this extent, either a Medical School or an Engineering faculty…….

  21. Ms D

    @ Intl

    when/ where do u want to meet up to rally for our invested-but-wasted money?

  22. G

    Watch CP24 now that cupe guy is going to be on. Most people now say we won’t be back until Monday Feb 2.

  23. F-Ed Up

    “Anyone who thinks that York is in the same ‘class’ as Queens, McMaster or Western is delusional.”

    Problem is, York’s huges, and its programs are quite diverse. So while that statement might apply to some programs (yours?), it certainly doesn’t apply to all.

  24. TheLegace

    @ underhealingwaters

    I am engineer, Shoukiri is also an engineer, my prof was telling me that we would defininately get our own faculty sometime in the future, so my bets are on engineering.

  25. B


    Shoukri’s installment is more in line with turning York into a research intensive university.

    He was the dean of engineering at McMaster and was instrumental to MAC’s development of a research park when they bought out the former camco buildings/land just a few minutes west of the main campus.

  26. downfall of YORK

    I wanted to stay quiet regarding this issue… I wasnt on the university side nor was i on the side of the union. However, after closely following and examining the strike I really wish that York university bankrupts and closes down forever. This is the worst school I ever went to and would not shed a tear if they closed down. THEY are the ones who did not want to negotiate, THEY are the ones wasting money on media pressure…honestly F*CK YORK! DIE YORK DIE!

  27. Helena

    “Jain, 25, teaches one full course, the introduction of African studies, and makes $14,000 a year. He struggles from month to month and lives under the poverty line.

    “My parents throw in a little bit but they don’t have a lot of money. Their store is not doing very well,”

    Uhm… welcome to the real world, Mr. Jain. NOBODY is doing very well right now. Maybe try getting another job? Does teaching ONE course really take up that much time?


  28. FYI

    He’s also a PhD student in SPT – so, I imagine some of his time is taken up with that.

  29. ram

    This just shows that people at YorkU do not value education or the people that are in academia.

    All this talk about, they make too much money OR they don’t deserve to make that much is, simply put, asinine.

    These people have Masters or Doctoral degrees. We aspire to get these degrees because WE KNOW they will get us more money. As the statistics show, you are likely to have a better job with advanced degrees from a university. Why are so many of you devaluing this? Ironically enough, those who are making such idiotic comments are the ones planning to apply to graduate school. I just can’t wait till you hear people telling you, “Just because you have a Ph.D., doesn’t mean you need to make $50.00/hr, as I don’t make that much and I work at McDonalds (or insert other low paying job).”


  30. Machinator

    “These people have Masters or Doctoral degrees. We aspire to get these degrees because WE KNOW they will get us more money. ”

    A piece of paper is all a degree is without talent and ability.

    If degree-mill programs were’nt polluting the academic landscape at York and others, you might have a claim.

    Sadly, just having a masters yet being a clueless schmo with a huge sense of entitlement isn’t going to get you anywhere (I’m looking at you , CUPE)

  31. ram

    @ Machinator

    I would think that if you have a M.A. or Ph.D., et cetera, that one would have talent and/or ability. At least, it shows intellectual ability. It shows something. Surely, degrees are not worthless. They show and account for something. Maybe a degree from YorkU is worthless, but lets not look down at the other schools out there…

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