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Local students say finances, mental health impacted by strike

Last Updated Nov 17, 2017 at 1:53 pm EDT

Photo credit: Conestoga College.

Local college students are speaking out as they say the longest faculty strike in our province’s history continues to affect them financially, and mentally.

Riley Nowak is the representative plaintiff for Conestoga College in the class action lawsuit that has been launched against the colleges.

She says the strike has impacted her and her peers drastically.

“We have at least two students who have had to cancel their weddings due to the shifted holiday break, and a lot of other really emotional stories that have come out of the strike. I chose to be a part of the lawsuit because the strike has impacted me financially, and in terms of my mental health.”

Aimee Ranni and her husband both quit their full-time jobs to go back to school this year, and tells 570 NEWS the strike has taken a huge financial toll on their family.

“We are students, so subsidy is covering our daycare as we can’t work, but with the strike there is uncertainty on whether we can keep the kids in daycare, and may have to pay full price out of our pocket. If we take them out of daycare, we risk the chance of not having them in daycare if school does resume again.”

Ranni says they were initially excited about Thursday’s news regarding back-to-work legislation.

“When we read the NDP would block the legislation, it was kind of another roller coaster for us. We are still trying to stay optimistic.”

Ranni adds that her and husband really just want to get back to the classroom.

“We gave up our lives to learn, and we just want to get back to school.”

Meantime, Aimee Calma is President of Conestoga Students Inc. and appeared on the Mike Farwell Show on Friday.

“It’s been an emotional roller coaster for many. The thing I’ve been saying most to our students right now, is I have an ear and a shoulder for you, and I’m trying my best to be what you need. Obviously we’re disappointed that it’s taken this long in the first place, there’s no reason that the students should still be feeling this way.”

Calma says she’s excited and hopeful that the students will be able to get back to class soon.

“From what I’ve heard from the administration, they’re very willing to make sure students can still be successful and complete the semester. But there are a lot of other factors with that, a lot of students are very anxious and concerned about what an accelerated semester will look like for them. Whether it’s accessibility needs, or mental health struggles, so an accelerated semester is a very daunting thing for them.”

Calma says some students have shared concerns that they do not feel like that they’ll be ready for the workforce, and that they don’t feel like they’ve been fully trained, or got what they paid for.

“A lot of students feel many different ways about this, so we encourage our students to reach out to us and express their feelings about the strike, and how it’s affected them. We aren’t picking sides here at CSI, but we do support the students and their concerns.”

Faculty at Ontario’s 24 colleges began striking on October 15.

It includes 12,000 faculty members, and has affected over 500,000 students across the province.