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VIU students sound off on effect of potential strike

Students at Vancouver Island University are worried about losing money and an academic semester if their professors go on strike Thursday (March 10).

But students also support the VIU Faculty Association's request for job security – the association is afraid  budget cuts could mean layoffs and loss of programs.

Dozens of students attended a rally outside the Nanaimo campus's library Wednesday.

Saeed Jafaei, who moved to Nanaimo from Edmonton to complete a dual masters of business administration and science in international business, said a strike would have a devastating impact on him, both financially and academically.

"The program is very intense and if we miss any classes, it is really hard for us to catch up," he said. "All the pressure is falling on our shoulders as students."

There should be a way of dealing with the faculty association's issues without impacting students, as it is important to ensure the people who are shaping future leaders have job security, Jafaei added.

"My expectation is that this should be resolved in a kind of win-win situation," he said. "These people are very essential to our generation."

Stephanie Laidlaw, a second-year sociology student, said a strike could push back the graduation date for some sociology students if this semester is lost, because some courses are only offered once every two years.

She also supports the position of the teachers and is afraid the university might make cuts to her program, which would force her to go elsewhere to finish her degree.

Meghan Dalskog, a third-year anthropology student, would like a refund if she misses classes due to a strike.

Extending the semester won't work for her – she's got a summer job on a cruise ship that starts right after the semester is scheduled to end.

"I fully support the teachers, they shouldn't lay anybody off," said Dalskog. "It sucks for the faculty, but all in all, it's the students who get screwed."

Tim Balaski, a second year bachelor of arts student, supports the strike and believes it could have long-term benefits such as ensuring students are able to take a wide variety of courses at VIU.

"It's probably not going to be good in the immediate sense, but I'm for it," he said. "I'd rather lose some money and have things improve a bit then not take a stand at all."

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