What Are Your Rights During a Strike?

So, you’re on strike. Do you know what your rights are? The Link sat down with Student Advocacy Centre representative Andy Filipowich to find out about your rights during a strike.

“Whether a student chooses to go on strike or not, we’re still going to be there,” he said. “We’re here to defend all students’ rights—those who are boycotting and those who are not.”

“You do have a right to protest and express your opinions, but at the same time you have to do so in a respectful manner,” said Filipowich.

Regarding the picketing of buildings and classes, Filipowich points out that students are allowed to do this so long as Concordia’s Security Policy and Code of Rights and Responsibilities are respected.

The first point of the Security Policy states that no unauthorized person is allowed to prevent access to and from university property to anyone who has a right to be there. It should go without saying that all students have a right to be on campus.

If you are prevented from entering a classroom or building, Filipowich’s advice is to speak calmly to the picketers first. If they continue to refuse you access to your class or building then you should call the SAC at 514-848-7474 ×7313.

“[The SAC] can’t force anyone to do anything,” said Filipowich. “Just like we can’t force someone to go to class, we can’t force someone to allow you to go to class, but we can try to find a conflict resolution, so that everyone knows what the consequences of their actions are.”

“What we suggest is to never have physical contact with someone,” he said. “There’s no reason for anyone to have any physical confrontation with anyone else.”

He suggests that students not call police because Concordia security like to be aware when there are police on campus. He also says it’s impractical to expect that police will be able to deal with every instance of hard picketers in the city.

He cautions that Concordia security are limited in what they can do to help you cross the picket line.

“Security is not supposed to touch you unless you’re severely endangering someone else, yourself or university policy,” he said. “They can’t force anyone to do anything, so what they’d have to do is call the police if they want protesters to leave.”

There are a number of consequences for students who break the Security Policy or the Code of Rights and Responsibilities. They have charges brought against them, the severity of which depends on the seriousness of their alleged infractions.

Under the Code of Rights and Responsibilities, students could receive:

a) a written reprimand from the university,
b) conditions on access to the university (excluding being barred from class),
c) a fine as compensation for damage or loss of property or to otherwise rectify a situation,
d) specified community service up to 10 hours a week, not exceeding 60 hours in total,
e) a fine not exceeding $500, if above sanctions are not appropriate,
f) suspension, or
g) expulsion.

Filipowich couldn’t say what students should expect if charges are brought against them for blocking classrooms. There is one thing students shouldn’t expect from Concordia, he said, and that’s a speedy route through the university’s backlogged legal system.