The results from a senate meeting on Friday about changes to the academic calendar are finally giving University of New Brunswick students closure after the strike that disrupted three weeks of their winter term.
Using recommendations put forth by student senators, the senate passed a revised academic calendar early Friday afternoon that confirmed the cancellation of the March reading week but has final exams starting and ending earlier.
It followed an announcement Thursday evening that students will receive credit on their tuition from the money saved on salaries during the labour disruption.
“The senate was very, very receptive to the student senator recommendations and it was actually the framework for which they made every decision, so we’re extremely pleased with how willing the senators were to work with us,” said Jenn Connolly, vice-president internal for the UNB Student Union.
While students have lost their March break, classes will end on April 15 and a reading day is scheduled for April 16. Exams will begin on April 17 and end on April 29.
“We hope that this will elevate some of the pressures that would have occurred when the exam period was ending on April 30. It gives a little bit of slack if worse comes to worst. There’s still issues that need to be worked out but we consider that a major victory,” Connolly said.
Although March break is cancelled, Connolly said she believes it to be a fair compromise. While classes will be held during that week, students will not be expected to attend class and instructors will not schedule assignments or tests during that time.
“Professors and faculty are expected to use enormous flexibility to students,” Connolly said. “It allows students who do have previous commitments to do the things that they planned to do while allowing those who didn’t have plans or want to get caught up academically and be in class to have that opportunity as well.”
Other changes to academic dates include the start of summer term being pushed to May 5 and the add/drop deadline for courses changed to Feb. 14.
The changes to the academic calendar were not the only response to student concerns this week. On Thursday, UNB’s Board of Governors announced that the net savings from salaries saved during the strike will be distributed among students.
“As a result of the university not paying salaries due to the strike and lockout there were planned expenditures not having to be made so a lot of that is being returned to the students,” said Peter McDougall, associate vice-president of human resources at UNB.
“Notwithstanding that there was a labour disruption, the university wasn’t looking to accrue any financial benefit from it so basically the principle was that we wanted to ensure that the net cost savings that were associated with the labour disruption were distributed in such a way as the students would benefit from it.”
While the amount students will be reimbursed is contingent on what the final numbers for the net savings end up being, full-time students can expect upwards of $200 with part-time students receiving a lesser amount.
“I’m very pleased obviously. It’s something that we’ve been advocating for and I’m very happy that it was successful. I mean, students have suffered a great deal, so anything we can do to help out is good,” said Student Union president Ben Whitney.
Students can expect this reimbursement by the end of March.