As the strike continues into its third week, cracks are appearing in the University’s ‘no classes’ rule. The University already exempted some professional ‘executive’ graduate programs in law, business, and human resources. Now York has also permitted classes to resume at Schulich’s school of business, but only for a few students enrolled in programs that have an exchange requirement, in which students must work for a business off campus. The concern is that these students may lose their program if courses continue into the period in which they are scheduled to begin work. Schulich professors will now be required to teach the same course twice: to the exchange students and then to the rest of the class once regular teaching resumes. Lucky them.
There are students in other faculties in an equivalent position. The undergrad law students at Osgoode come immediately to mind, since many of them will be expected to begin summer or articling jobs at law firms. The articling jobs in particular create difficulties because completing a full term of articling is a requirement of being called to the Bar. I can’t imagine that a flexible solution could not be found to this, but I expect Osgoode to now start harping for a similar exclusion.
Of course, being ‘exempted’ by York’s Senate from the ‘no classes’ policy does not mean that the union approved of classes continuing — it was not a bargained arrangement with the union. So students and faculty must still cross a legal picket line if they hold classes on campus, and York’s rules on the conduct of strikes prohibits students from being negatively effected in any way for refusing to cross a picket line:
It is important to note that should a student, enrolled in the activities noted as exceptions above, choose to exercise her or his right to not participate in academic activities owing to the strike, they would be entitled to immunity from penalty, to reasonable alternative access to materials covered in their absence, to reasonable extensions of deadlines and to such other remedy as Senate deems necessary and consistent with the principle of academic integrity.
This appears to me to mean that even if a class resumes at York during the strike, no student is required to cross the picket line and attend. This could create nightmares for the administration (and for profs who begin teaching), since they will somehow have to make up the materials and grading assignments for students who elect not to come to class. This is why a piecemeal approach to holding classes during lawful strikes is a nightmare.