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“I’ll be marking papers”: What college instructors are doing during the strike

More than 12,000 faculty at Ontario’s public colleges went on strike at the beginning of this week after their union’s contract negotiations with the College Employer Council reached an impasse. The Ontario Public Service Employees Union says it’s asking for more full-time jobs, increased job security and more autonomy in making academic decisions. Classes are cancelled, and for the time being there’s no deal in sight. We asked some picketing instructors at George Brown College’s St. James campus how they’re feeling about the situation—and how they’re spending their free time.

"I'll be marking papers": What college instructors are doing during the strike
Ashley Booth

39, pre-community services instructor

I feel like the union requests are very reasonable and I’m very surprised that the College Employer Council is so far away from seeing that. I’ll be spending my free time walking my dog.

"I'll be marking papers": What college instructors are doing during the strike
Trisha Yeo

48, sexual diversity and film instructor

The most frustrating part is that we are out here fighting for what should be obvious: full-time jobs and academic freedom. I work as an editor, so I’ll be doing that when I’m not on the picket line.

"I'll be marking papers": What college instructors are doing during the strike
Ola Rahatka

39, ESL instructor

It’s frustrating being away from my students, and thinking about the impact that the labour interruption will have on them. I’ll be dancing and studying Spanish.

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"I'll be marking papers": What college instructors are doing during the strike
Jennifer Hutchison

55, ESL and college English instructor

I miss the students, and I feel bad about the workload they’re losing every day. I’ll be marking! I still have lots of marking to do.

"I'll be marking papers": What college instructors are doing during the strike
Jeff Brown

“Over 40 but under 60,” ESL, communications and teacher training instructor

The main frustration for me is the ongoing unfair treatment of contract faculty in the colleges, and how it impacts the students’ experience and the education they receive. We’ll see how long it goes on before I start establishing a new routine. In the meantime, I’m just focusing on picket duty and making sure people know what the issues are.

"I'll be marking papers": What college instructors are doing during the strike
Billie-Jean McBride

56, social service instructor

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For me, the key element is integrity. It’s about being the authors of the course outlines we teach. I’ve had management change my course on me and dictate how it should look. It’s disrespectful. I’ll be marking papers. I don’t think I’m supposed to, but we need to jump back in when we’re done with the strike.

"I'll be marking papers": What college instructors are doing during the strike
Liz Brockest

34, equity and diversity instructor

I teach a lot of courses that explore ideas around equity, equality, diversity and supporting fairness, and I am working in an environment that doesn’t reflect or support fairness. It’s very strange to go home and not have papers to mark and classes to prep. I want to get back in the classroom as soon as possible.

"I'll be marking papers": What college instructors are doing during the strike
Fran Odette

55, instructor in George Brown’s Assaulted Women and Children’s Counsellor Advocate Program

People think it’s about money, but it’s not. It’s about equality, and fairness and equity for people who are doing a lot of hard work and not getting recognized for it. I feel a little bit in limbo and I’m wondering what’s going to happen in the next little while.

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