U of O nursing students still affected following return to college classes

After five weeks of cancelled classes, the Ontario government tabled back to work legislation to put an end to the Ontario college strike.

The legislation will “return Ontario college students to the classroom where they belong,” said Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne according to the CBC, after weeks of unsuccessfully getting the colleges and the union to reach a deal.

Overall, the strike affected 24 colleges and approximately 500,000 students across Ontario.

Wynne also sympathized with the students in the statement, as well as in a tweet saying, “Students have been in the middle of this strike for too long and it’s not fair.”

Although classes are back in session, some students at the University of Ottawa in joint college programs are still feeling the effects of the strike.

Particularly, students in the bachelor of nursing program have been raising concerns about how the university has been helping them manage the strike.

“So far the university has not provided any help,” said second-year nursing student Tori Dawson. “They are not accommodating our final exams, even though we have all of our Algonquin campus classes until the first week of January and then exams for those classes in the first and second weeks of January.”

Algonquin College has been rescheduling courses on a per program basis.

According to Dawson, the plan is to have nursing classes run until Dec. 23 and resume on Jan. 2. Final exams for the fall semester will be pushed back to the first few weeks of 2018 and the new winter semester will begin on Jan. 16.

“Luckily our Algonquin professors are doing what they can (to) accommodate us by creating extra lab times, having extra tutorial slots and accommodating classes at the University of Ottawa,” Dawson said. “However, there has been no support from the university itself or any indication of them attempting to hear our voice.”

Dawson explained that several students in the program have tried reaching out to the dean of health sciences, the president of the university, and Wendy Sword, the director of the school of nursing on multiple occasions. The students have received few responses with “very little instruction.” Ultimately, the students’ frustration culminated in a rally outside Tabaret Hall on Nov. 20, the day before they went back to classes.

“I just want to finish my year on time,” said Dawson. “I am beyond pleased with how the Algonquin College profs have tried to rework the term and be compliant to our wishes. I just wish I could say the same about the University of Ottawa, the institution that I pay my tuition to and receive my degree from.”

In addition to finishing the year on time, Dawson says that she is particularly concerned for her peers and classmates who rely on breaks from class.

“My biggest concern is for those of my colleagues who suffer from mental illness and rely on breaks to get through the school year, for those on visa or who are from out of town and were planning on spending Christmas with their families. It’s going to be a very busy time for everyone to catch up and finish the year strong.”