EGSS is endorsing a student-led strike for graduate education students! On January 24-25, graduate education students are encouraged to participate in the strike by not attending in-person classes. The strike vote on this resolution from two students was announced on January 19th. To date, 168 students have voted, with 86.3% in support of the strike.
On Tuesday, January 25th at 4:30 – 5:30 pm EST, a Special General Assembly (11.5 of the constitution) will be held to vote on extending this strike until February 25th. All students, staff, and faculty in Education are welcome to attend, voice their opinions, and share their recommendations. The agenda is here. The zoom link to join the assembly is here.
Help spread the word about the strike! Post on twitter, message your classmates, tell your professors. Publicity is part of what will get us safer learning conditions.
If you have questions or concerns, or if you want to join the strike committee, please contact EGSS or the strike committee co-organizers: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Additional information on the rationale for the strike and EGSS’ support can be found below!
Why and how is EGSS supporting the strike?
This month, Quebec has seen record numbers of COVID cases, and the healthcare system is stretched to its breaking point. Although many students and staff have expressed their concerns about the return to in-person instruction, the university has not given an adequate response; It has failed to sufficiently update its safety protocols in response to the omicron variant, is not providing clarity on safety measures or clear guidance for faculty and staff, and is no longer tracking on-campus transmissions. Many feel it is too soon to return to in-person instruction without adequate safety policies in place. Strong participation in this strike will send a message to the university administration to prioritize the health and safety of its students, faculty and staff.
We urge faculty and administration to not penalize students for participating in the strike, although we understand that instructors are free to decide on the assessment methods for their course. EGSS will offer support to students however possible. If you are concerned about the impact of participating on your classes, contact us or members of the strike committee.
How do students feel about the return?
Many graduate students have shared their support and voiced their concerns through the strike resolution (thanks!):
- The main concerns (31 respondents) were that it is unsafe to return at this time due to high case numbers, the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, inadequate safety protocols on campus, and the increased risk inherent in sitting in crowded classrooms and on public transit. Seven students noted that risk of transmission is particularly high in the education department because many students spend all day at school with potentially unvaccinated children, then come to class in the evenings. Seventeen students explicitly expressed their desire for remote instruction, with ten students supporting fully online instruction until the situation improves, and seven advocating for hybrid options.
- Of the ten people (5.9%) who left comments against the resolution, seven expressed a desire to return to normal, and five were concerned about the toll of remote instruction on mental health. Other concerns included the belief that COVID isn’t dangerous (n = 3) and concerns that prolonging remote instruction would cause financial or logistical burdens (n = 3).
EGSS has also received concerns via the survey sent out last week, emails, and other conversations.
- Over 390 students responded to the survey. A vast majority (84.9%) would feel safer if classes continued online—66.5% said until winter reading break; 18.4% said until circumstances improved.
- Over 750 students signed a petition asking McGill to postpone the transition until winter reading break at earliest.
- Students have expressed concern that many rooms and hallways in the Education Building are simply not designed for social distancing. The university has yet to clarify what measures will be taken to address these issues.
- Students are fearful of missing classes and falling behind. Many students currently attend classes online while sick with Covid; the fear of falling behind may lead to individuals coming to class while sick.
- Students are concerned that contact tracing is no longer being conducted, and that transmissions on campus are not being reported.
- Students with comorbidities are facing higher risk of serious illness.