[For information on the Myles Files’ strike coverage, regarding the purpose and intention behind it, please refer to the Strike Mission Statement]

Students at Acadia University are supposed to be worried about midterms right now. As courses begin to pile on the tests and quizzes, and as we reach that lovely point halfway through the term, this is usually a hectic time.

However, most students are able to overcome this deluge of material with some hard work and good study habits. But this year, there is another problem that hours of studying won’t fix, and that students are not currently able to fix. Entirely out of their hands, students are now pondering what will happen if faculty goes on strike on October 15th.

The problem with this is that students are faced with a lack of information: while bits and pieces are making their way into the pipeline, for the most part students are left piecing together whatever they can through MSN and DC++ Conversations. While these have a great deal of value, they are also provided to an extremely limited audience. And I, as well, can’t possibly reach enough of the student body to answer the questions floating around.

Are they going back to the table? What does a strike mean for us? How long will they be out for? When will we know if there’s a strike? Should we go home?

Those are just an assortment of potential questions, and I will be honest with you: some of them can’t be answered. There are too many variables at stake: the state of negotiations is such that a single comment or statement could fundamentally change the answers. For the short term: Rumours have them scheduled (with no promises) to negotiate tomorrow, a strike could mean a lot of things, no one really knows how long, they have to give 48 hours notice so by Saturday morning, and only if you live nearby in my personal opinion. Not really satisfying, are they?

However, I believe that it is possible for someone, anyone, to start informing students. Because as far as I can tell, those streams of communication are not open as much as they could be.

The Administration has been dead quiet on the strike itself outside of it’s “official presentations.” They have been extremely forthcoming with whatever information is asked of them, as they have been willing to release salary lists and answer questions on the ASU’s website. What we’ve yet to see, though, is an actual communication (with students) about a potential strike. There has yet to be a message to students from administration actually telling students what the frak is going on.

Which I think is quite ridiculous: while I know that it’s all going to be partisan information, I’d at least like to know that the university (And its various departments) are at the very least making every effort to keep a strike from happening, and that they at least purport to be concerned about the students.

Based on the questions Scott Roberts received at the General Meeting on September 28th, people are more concerned than they are angry: a simple comment might help that, at least acknowledging that they are aware of the level of confusion within the student body. It may be easy to sit back and know that a) students are more likely to side with faculty and b) generally view university discourse with a certain level of apathy, but I believe that some kind of acknowledgment would be reassuring.

The faculty, in the meantime, have been more communicative: reports have surfaced of professors discussing the issues with their students and even sending out emails to update them of the situation. I have to say that I dislike the idea of only one side communicating with students: in any conflict where a compromise is the ideal solution, a one-sided perspective does no one any good. But, at the same time, is it really wrong of the faculty to be doing what the other side should be doing as well?

And then we reach the ASU. As a supporter of the neutral stance of the ASU, designed to better facilitate communication, I’m admittedly somewhat disappointed at the quantity of that discourse to date. They have been a solid source for the occasional factual presentation, and Kyle Steele spent some time on AcadiaDC earlier today discussing the issue with students, but I am personally looking for a continuous discourse. I don’t care if it’s emails, or an ASU Strike Blog, or something else altogether: students right now might need a lifeline to wade through a pool of confusing situations.

Mind you, the first day back from Thanksgiving is only half over: there is still time for the ASU to make that statement, or for the university to start a line of communication. Right now, as much as I believe everyone wants answers, those answers are not entirely available: no one can say, for sure, whether there will be a strike, and no side is going to jeopardize their bargaining position.

What they can offer, however, is a reassurance to the students that their education is not going to get lost in the tussle: while the students’ experience may be central to each side’s pitch of sorts, is our short-term future not part of the picture. Sometimes I think students feel that way, and a certain level of reassurance might do a lot of good in these confusing times.

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