Students returning to classes at Fleming College in Peterborough on Tuesday are doing so with some uncertainty for the remainder of the shortened semester.
“I’m excited but at the same time really nervous about what to expect going back,” said Jennifer Oliver, a student in the mental health and addictions program.
The provincial government passed back-to-work legislation on Sunday, ending the five-week strike by Ontario college faculty, which started in mid-October. The issues will now be resolved by an arbitrator.
Fleming is extending the fall semester by at least two weeks to make up for the lost classroom time but some students say that’s going to require major cramming.
“We’re being pushed further into Christmas and we’re being pushed into January for more classes,” said paralegal program student Connor Hamilton.
“So it’s a little bit stressful for me and other students in the program.”
Elizabeth Matheson, president of OPSEU Local 352 for Fleming’s faculty, says staff are ready to help students get back on track and re-engaged.
“This is where we work together and you tell us what you need so we can support you and get your learning outcomes met so that you can complete your semester,” said Matheson.
Joel Willett, president of Fleming’s student council, says students must now focus on the books and move on from the labour dispute.
“We encourage students to focus now on the future and ensure sure that they’re getting the education that they need to be able to be successful,” said Willett.
Fleming’s president Dr. Tony Tilly says it’s good to see faculty back in the building, however, since the labour dispute was stopped by the government, questions remain as to what the strike accomplished.
“Nothing is in place at this time,” Tilly said.
“So it’s a wait-and-see time with respect to what are the results from this round of bargaining and from the arbitration.”