November 10, 2023

We understand that the recent labour dispute between SFU and TSSU was acutely difficult for undergraduate students and caused unexpected financial burden, stress, and anxiety.

Over the past weeks, concerns from students have led to discussions at Council to determine which approach would best support the academic, financial, and overall well being of undergraduates at SFU. Throughout Council meeting discussions, the SFSS’s stance has been clear: We expect SFU to make tuition refunds (partial and full) to all students who have had their classes disrupted and expect SFU to ensure that actions taken by faculty and instructors during this period reflect a culture of compassion where every student is prioritised and accommodated.

Many students faced unexpected costs as a result of the picket lines. High cost of living, limited hours of work off campus, class disruptions, and rescheduling as well as the uncertainty surrounding when a resolution would be reached have placed most of our students in precarious situations making them unable to fully concentrate on their studies. However, this has been particularly costly for marginalised and international students who face additional social and cultural barriers to their education and pay higher tuition fees than their domestic counterparts. 

We continue to hear from students about the undue hardships the strike has caused. It is clear that they have borne the brunt of the situation. That is why we ask the University to put in place measures to ensure that students have all the support they need to complete the Fall 2023 semester.

As such, the SFSS calls on the University to:

  • Set up a tuition credit initiative that allows students to apply for a tuition refund (full and partial) if they voluntarily withdraw from a Fall 2023 semester strike interrupted course due to their inability to complete
  • Ensure that students are given academic concessions and accommodations when requested in order to finish class assignments, submissions and exams
  • Ensure that faculty and instructors do not penalise students who refused to cross picket lines
  • Initiate and act on a broad public consultation with students, faculty, staff, and the wider SFU community, with emphasis on prioritising the voices of community members who have been historically and continue to be marginalised and their representative groups
  • Commit to changing and adapting policy to meet the concerns and needs expressed during these consultations
  • Provide academic and mental health support to students whose education was impacted due to strike action and may be experiencing increased difficulties in courses as a result.

Education is instrumental in an individual’s personal, economic and social development and the SFSS has long advocated for students to receive a world-class education at SFU. As a University that prides itself on achieving an equitable, diverse and supportive environment for teaching and learning, the recent strike situation neither speaks to this nor showcases our University as an institution where all students- particularly those from abroad- will be able to get value for their money.

While we acknowledge the University Senate’s efforts in implementing the P/CR/NCR grading option and extending the withdrawal deadline to support students, we contend that these measures do not sufficiently address the significant impact of loss of education and skills development in courses for which students have incurred financial expenses. Hence, the SFSS calls on the University to put in place adequate measures to ensure that students are financially, emotionally and academically compensated and supported.