Is it over yet?
Many of you have heard by now that the Mount Royal Faculty Association and the Board of Governors of Mount Royal University have reached an agreement in principle. Like other students, we are happy and relieved to hear this good news!
Although MRFA members still have an opportunity to vote to approve or reject the proposed deal, we understand that the in-principle agreement shows that the MRFA executive is confident that the deal is worth ratifying.
According to Faculty Association President, Lee Easton, it was due in part to SAMRU’s words and actions. In an email to campus leaders yesterday, Easton thanked the Mount Royal Staff Association and the Students’ Association representation team, saying he believes that “the SAMRU’s statements about how cutbacks in [post-secondary education] funding drew attention to the need for more flexibility in bargaining.”
SAMRU REC President Spirit River Striped Wolf noted that SAMRU remained cautious during the negotiations and did not pick sides out of respect for the collective bargaining process and to maintain positive relationships between SAMRU, MRU, and the faculty.
SAMRU on preserving relationships
At last week’s REC town hall, SAMRU VP External, Rachel Timmermans, noted that positive relationships contributed to building trust among various campus groups and led to positive outcomes for students.
“I’ve seen the work that [past SAMRU student executives] and our team have put in to build trust with MRU admin, and one of the biggest wins we’ve seen out of this trust is the banning of proctored exams.
Most schools have to use proctoring software but, because MRU trusted the SAMRU REC team, we’re one of the only schools that’s been able to ban proctored exams and the mandatory use of webcams,” said Timmermans.
“Trust gets us a lot of really important wins for students and we don’t want to lose that over an issue in one academic year.”– Rachel Timmermans, SAMRU REC VP External
SAMRU checking in
During the faculty bargaining process, SAMRU was in frequent communication with senior university and faculty officials for updates, all the while urging them to find common ground in recognition of student struggles this academic year given COVID-19, course changes, and tuition increases, among other things.
Talks about possible student protest
The SAMRU REC team also gathered student feedback to help develop possible contingency plans for students (i.e. what happens to students during a strike, what can students do during a strike, etc.), and — after discussion with students who attended the REC town hall last week — began planning protests aimed towards government funding cuts in the event that a strike were to occur, and if students felt it was necessary.
The turnout for the town hall was remarkable, and student responses to questions posed in a Google form were even more significant, with close to 800 students commenting on the situation and sharing their questions, personal fears, and anxieties.
On a personal note, MRFA President Easton acknowledged SAMRU REC President “Spirit River Striped Wolf and his team’s bold leadership in articulating students’ own positions about the Government of Alberta’s PSE (Post-Secondary Education) policies.”
“We are thrilled that this is over and that we helped play a part in resolving things,” said Striped Wolf.
“Most importantly, though, we are happy that students can continue their semester uninterrupted and without the anxiety of not knowing what would happen to them if a strike were to occur.”
With the strike issue resolved, the SAMRU REC team will continue to push the government to reconsider their long-term approach to post-secondary funding and, of course, resume dealing with ever-changing COVID-19 regulations.
SAMRU strongly encourages students to participate by providing feedback and letting us know how they’re doing. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Student opportunities for full-time work
On a final note, Striped Wolf has a message for students: “More students should think about running for these REC positions. There are 4 full-time, paid positions starting at an annual salary of $43,500 plus health benefits. These are one-year terms and professional training, support, and resources are included.
Advocacy work isn’t always easy, but you get to work with a team of other students to advance students’ interests and — whether or not there are immediate results — the process is meaningful and empowering.
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I would strongly encourage you to read more about it and apply. The deadline is coming up next week.”