Strikes are Taking too High a Toll

Jasmine Moody

Lecturers are striking because they are at “breaking point”. I understand, but what about us students being at breaking point?

If lecturers and university staff expect us to be sympathetic to their situation, they also need to be sympathetic to us students. 

After the last set another set of strikes will be occurring. In an email sent to students, Charlie Jeffery confirmed that another strike will be happening over three weeks, spanning from 14 February to 2 March. In total, ten days will be committed to striking. 

It’s a messy conflict of interest. On the one hand, I wholeheartedly support the strikes. Our lectures work extremely hard, and the fact that they have had to endure a decade of cuts to pensions, failing pay, and worsening working conditions is abysmal. Striking for those reasons is justified. However, frustration towards the strikes is wholly valid too. 

The issue that I have is the impact on students. I am in my third year and have not had the usual university experience since the spring term of my first year. Many second-year classes were moved online due to COVID-19, slashing my already tiny contact hours. Every year I have been at the University of York, there have been strikes. The lethal combination of COVID-19 and striking has been disastrous.

The last strikes were particularly unhelpful, personally. They occurred in Week 10 of the Autumn term, where my seminars would have been dedicated to summative essay guidance. Due to the strikes, I was left unsure of approaching many of my assessments. I am apprehensive about receiving the marks due to the lack of essay guidance. I am aware that summative essays are my personal responsibility. Still, I have always found seminars specifically to help us approach the assignments very helpful. Those seminars were taken away from me the last term. I now wait in dreaded anticipation for my results as every mark now counts. I’m sure many of you are in the same boat as me. 

Our £9,250 tuition fees go straight to the University, to those cutting our lecturers pay, pensions and worsening working conditions. So yes, our anger should go towards them for causing our lecturers to strike. However, it is not them who teach us; our lecturers and teaching staff are. Therefore, even though lecturers are the victims, in this case, it does not make us students any less victimised differently. Us students are allowed to be angry for worsening the quality of education.

Yes, support the strikes, but we students have a right to feel dismayed. Having negative feelings towards a situation affecting your university experience is justified. If lecturers and teaching staff feel frustrated, they should expect students to feel animosity towards the problem.

I genuinely hope that our university staff are treated better. I support their reasons for striking, but as a student, I have every right to be angry about the impacts of strikes on me. Strikes are justified, but so is student frustration.