McGill's Undergraduates Worried About Effects of TA Strike on Undergraduate Education, Demand McGill Administration Negotiate a Solution Now!

    MONTREAL, June 2 /CNW Telbec/ - The Students' Society of McGill
University (SSMU) calls on McGill's Administration to negotiate in earnest
with Teaching Assistants (TAs) already on strike for six weeks. Undergraduate
Students are worried that the Administration's heavy-handed approach to this
work-stoppage will have an adverse effect on them.
    "The TA's demands are - on the whole - more than reasonable and will
greatly improve the quality of undergraduate education here at McGill. Caps on
discussion groups, pedagogical training for TA's, and fair wages are essential
for our education, particularly at a University like McGill where TA's are
many students' primary contact for a class," stated Kay Turner, incoming
President of the Students' Society of McGill University, representing the
19,000 undergraduates of McGill's downtown campus. "We are greatly
disappointed by the Administration's heavy-handed response to these reasonable
    Instead of approaching the negotiating table in earnest, the
Administration responded to the strike by suspending (without pay)
invigilators, Research Assistants, library workers, work-study programs, and
even summer class lecturers who are part of the TA Union. This pressure tactic
has in some cases meant the canceling of summer classes, replacing experienced
lecturers with undergraduate students. In addition, the Administration is
employing undergraduate TAs for a fraction of the wages of graduate TA's. For
some students, these class cancellations will mean a rescheduling of their
academic program, including the possibility of not graduating on-time.
    "Not only is this response an outrageously heavy-handed approach to
negotiating with their own students, but the Administration is - essentially -
sacrificing the quality of undergraduate education for the sake making an
example of a trade union," declared Devin Alfaro, incoming-Vice-President
(External Affairs) of the SSMU. "Playing games with students' educations for
their own political gain is not the kind of behaviour we should expect from a
university that presents itself as student-centred."
    Recently, SSMU was informed that McGill University has established a
taskforce to examine the possibility of a fall semester without TAs.
Undergraduates were not asked to participate in this committee, nor to give
our input on this taskforce.

For further information:

For further information: Boris Savoie-Doyer, Campaigns and Political
Affairs Coordinator, Students' Society of McGill University, (514) 398-8036,
Fax: (514) 398-7490

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