The health and safety of the undergraduate students participating in the Senate Chamber sit-in, that began following the Senate meeting last Thursday is of paramount concern to us.
Although the University doesn’t condone or encourage the sit-in, we respect our students’ right to express their views. In addition to ensuring our students do have the necessities, including water and access to washroom facilities, maintaining the safety of the building environment, university property and facilities is also a concern.
To ensure our students’ well-being, the Community Safety team has been on site since the sit-in began. In addition, Debbie Hansen, Executive Director, Community Support and Services in York’s Student Community Relations Department reached out in person on Friday and again on Saturday evening on behalf of the University to open lines of communication and to offer care and support to the students. She was assured by several students that they are in good health.
Classes will continue
Ms. Hansen also conveyed the University’s position that our actions must be based on an assessment of what is in the best interests of all our students.
Staying open and running those classes that could run has provided our students with the ability to make choices based on their own personal circumstances, respecting the needs of the thousands of students who are continuing to attend classes, as scheduled.
Therefore we are not prepared to take steps to cancel all classes, which is one of the students’ demands.
No student is required to cross the picket line if they choose not to, and we are fully confident that students who elected not to attend classes during the disruption will receive the necessary accommodations in accordance with their rights under the appropriate Senate Policy.
York has been clear that it is ready to continue bargaining when CUPE 3903 chooses to table proposals that create an achievable framework for a settlement to end the strike.
CUPE 3903 members in the Senate Chamber
It has also become clear that members of CUPE 3903 as well as individuals from outside the University are in the Senate Chamber with our undergraduate students.
While we are mindful that some CUPE 3903 members are also graduate students, there are legal picket lines in the case of a strike, and it is not acceptable for CUPE 3903 members to participate in a sit-in to make demands regarding labour relations.
We have sent a communication advising the Chair of the Union that they must leave and have requested confirmation from the Chair by Monday morning that any CUPE 3903 members participating in the sit-in have been informed.
We find the presence of individuals who are not members of the York community troubling and continue to carefully review the situation in order to best support the students and take appropriate steps as necessary.
York will ensure student safety
Our top priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of all community members – and especially our students. While we cannot negotiate matters pertaining to labour relations with our students, we continue to work with Senate Executive on academic remediation options for students during and after the strike, providing regular updates.
We also continue to provide support for our students in the Senate Chamber, and to work together, towards ending the sit-in in a safe and peaceful manner.
Members of the University Campus Safety team continue to monitor the situation.