As Ontario college strike rumbles on, out-of-pocket students speak out
Students at Toronto's Seneca College are protesting Tuesday over what they say is a lack of clarity around how the ongoing strike will affect their pockets.
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Students at Seneca College, fed up with what they call a lack of clarity over the academic strike, will protest Tuesday under the banner “We Want In.”
With almost 800 people joined up on their Facebook page, the group aims to push Seneca to clarify its plans around tuition refunds, travel expenses and visa extensions necessitated by the strike. Affecting some 300,000 students across 24 colleges, the instructor strike has entered its fourth week.
“Seneca has been updating students, but a lot of them are saying it’s the same messages just typed different ways,” said Seneca Student Federation president Nicola Lau. “They want to know what’s going on. The college wasn’t doing anything about it. They’re getting really, really frustrated.”
The demonstration will start at noon Tuesday at Seneca’s Newnham Campus (1750 Finch Ave. E.) in North York. Organizers say another one will be held at Queen’s Park in the coming days, as the group looks to include similarly affected students elsewhere.
Eduard Deych, a second-year student in International Business from Ukraine who has seen his diploma program grind to a halt, said details on compensation have been few and far between, but students have been told classes could run until late December.
“Probably the term will be extended, but we already have airline tickets back home and we have to exchange them,” Deych said. “Though you can find tickets, they’re too expensive. We’re concerned that if we have to stay here over our supposed break, we may have to pay our (landlords) extra charges.”
Others are concerned about paperwork involved in extending study and resident permits that may expire. Deych said he's worried not just about current expenses but also costs that might be tagged on later.
“We’re afraid that even if they do give refunds, they’ll just increase the charges for next term,” he said. “We’re losing time and our money.”
In an explainer on its webiste, Seneca does not address the issue of refunds and compensation in detail but urges students not to quit. The campus remains open, with counselling and accessibility services running at lower levels than normal.
The college did not return a call requesting comment.
“We will ensure that students will have the opportunity to complete their year of studies,” Seneca's website reads. “Seneca is committed to ensuring students do not lose their academic status/year once this strike has ended.”