OPINION: A missed opportunity during the strike for international students

Aditya Krishnan

There was no reason for the international students to fear the Ontario Public Services Employees Union (OPSEU) strike.

Getting the acceptance letter from a college in Ontario and arriving in Canada seemed like a difficult step for international students, but after a month-and-a-half into college, the OPSEU strike was the toughest phase.

Yet I would say the five-week strike was a blessing in disguise that students fail to see.

That lengthy labour strike is the last thing any student would have anticipated, especially for those who came from different parts of the world in search of better education.

The uncertainty of its duration was worrisome, but the strike has not only helped international students to integrate into the novel system but also carried benefits for them.

The strike faced criticism from students and many expressed their anger over it. But it was timely for international students and it brought the occasion for them to adjust themselves to their new homes.

It gave them more time off school to make themselves cosy in their new beds and look for part-time jobs as well.

And for the explorers, it brought the opportunity to wander around the new city they had set foot in.

The end of the strike ensured an easy transition back to school and towards a smooth end of the semester. Not much remained altered apart from dates of the semesters and the breaks through the school year.

The responsibility of making sure the students received the learning outcomes of their courses laid with the colleges the entire time. In addition to that, the course assessments and marking could only be made easier due to the shortened semester.

The onus for extension of study permits or any other disruption in the status of the students also lay with the colleges to solve. So the students had a more than a month off to do whatever they wished for.

The event also brought the choice for students to withdraw from their programs with a full tuition refund. This offered an exit for those who made the wrong choice with their programs and wanted out.

Basic monthly expenses like rent and groceries would have remained the same regardless of the strike anyways.

In addition to that, special arrangements were made for students who had made travels plans prior to the strike.

Students were skeptical and speculated about what would occur once the college re-opened, but there was no need for that. I saw the better option, and that was to just sit on the sidelines and benefit from the timeout.

It was an opportunity to work more, play more and get a positive routine going.

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