More than 160 protesters rally to support striking faculty

KINGSTON, ONT., Nov. 3, 2017—More than 160 demonstrators gathered at St. Lawrence College on Friday to protest precarious employment and to fight for academic freedom.

Members from several of the city’s labour unions joined picketing professors for a rally at the entrance to the college, where local union leaders encouraged them to stay strong as they wrapped up their third week on the picket line.

USE Gareth Jones 2

OPSEU Regional VP Gareth Jones speaks at the rally

“We are standing here together, showing that we believe in our cause,” said Grant Currie, president of Local 417 of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union.

 “These awful, four-month low-paying contracts that make people live in fear for their lives, so they cannot plan their future have to go,” Currie told the crowd. “We also have to have input into decision making; let’s make decisions that are based on our knowledge and our dedication for the learning that goes on in those buildings.”

student pickets

Students came out to support faculty on strike

After his speech, Currie said he was impressed to see such solidarity from so many labour unions. Union flags were carried by 5 local unions, including the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Queen’s University Faculty Association, which brought 15 Queen’s professors to the event, many of them full-timers who were once part-time professors.

 Cathy Christie, a full-time Queen’s science education professor and a former faculty association president who spent years on short-term contract, said it was important for her and her colleagues to come to the rally to show solidarity in the fight against a global problem.

“It’s not just St. Lawrence; this is an issue that is across the country and around the world,” Christie said in an interview. “Our universities and colleges are relying on contract faculty and it undermines every academic institution in the country, in the world.”

 About 12,000 faculty, counsellors, and librarians at Ontario’s 24 colleges left their jobs Oct. 16 after the College Employer Council refused to address their final offer. Faculty wanted the employer to boost the number of full-time and part-time faculty to a 50/50 ratio instead of the current 19/81 one. Faculty fear that colleges will continue their commodification of education until colleges are entirely staffed by part-time professors. After all, just 10 years ago, the ratio of full-timers to part-timers was 70/30. And Council CEO Don Sinclair has said to news media that the council will not agree to any ratios so that colleges can maintain flexible workforces.

 Contract talks restarted Thursday. If a settlement is reached today (Friday), classes could resume as early as Wednesday, Nov. 8.

 Currie said he is “optimistic” a settlement will soon be reached.


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Labour unions to rally Friday to show support for striking college faculty

KINGSTON, ONT., Oct. 31, 2017—Striking college faculty will be joined by members of the Kingston area’s labour unions at a rally at St. Lawrence College on Friday to show support for the strike and to put pressure on the College Employer Council to return to the bargaining table.

Members of the area’s 40-plus labour unions will stand with picketing faculty at 12 noon at the college’s main entrance. Grant Currie, president of Local 417 of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union, said organized labour recognizes the importance of the fight against the “precarious labour model” that St. Lawrence College uses to abuse educators in the college system.

“Short term workers suffer stress and strain trying to live from four-month contract to four-month contract while paid below-minimum-wage salaries—our fight is for the future faculty in the college system,” said Currie.

College faculty have been on strike since Oct. 16

He said he hopes students, faculty, and support staff will also come to the noon-time rally to show support.

Debi Wells, vice-president of the Kingston and District Labour Council, which represents more than 40 unions in the Kingston area and almost 10,000 local workers, said her members do not accept that precarious work is the new reality. She also said the council supports striking faculty and that they hope negotiations recommence soon.

“Labour councils and local labour unions understand that when employees are denied full employment, when they are not able to access benefit packages or pensions, when they are treated as a business expense that should be lowered, nobody benefits,” said Wells, who is also a member of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.

“Students certainly are worse off when the professionals guiding them through their studies are treated poorly, and a society that doesn’t value the education and well-being of citizens is simply not as good as it could be,” she said.

About 12,000 faculty, counsellors, and librarians at Ontario’s 24 colleges left their jobs October 16 after representatives of the college system refused to address their final offer. The key issues are academic freedom and precarious working conditions.

Striking workers want nothing more than to get back into their classrooms with their students.

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 For further information, contact Grant Currie, President OPSEU Local 417 at (613) 893-2505 or or Debi Wells, Vice-President, Kingston and District Labour Council, at or 613-634-8163 or 613-329-5901.



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Construction crew shuts down project to support striking professors’ push for contract talks to resume


October 27, 2017

Construction on St. Lawrence College’s new multi-million-dollar Student Life and Innovation Centre was halted Friday morning as workers honoured the picket lines, refusing to cross in a show of support for striking college faculty members.

“When we heard that the college wasn’t even talking, that’s unbelievable, that just isn’t right,” said Barry Simpson of the Carpentry Union. “We wanted to show a sign of support, so we shut down construction here at the college to get their attention and hopefully get them back to the bargaining table. When I suggested this, not a single person refused.”


MPP Sophie Kiwala speaks to St. Lawrence College President Glenn Vollebregt at the picket line

Not only were construction workers actively involving themselves in the dispute, Kingston and the Islands MPP Sophie Kiwala visited striking faculty on the picket line. Kiwala spent more than an hour walking and talking with strikers and students, asking questions about their personal experiences.

Strikers related personal stories to the MPP, of precarious employment for contract faculty, inadequate staffing, and the increasing stresses their students face every day at school.

Kiwala also spoke with, and listened to, a group of students who were out supporting faculty. Students shared their concerns, from childcare, to mental health issues, and stressed their shared fears that their semesters could be lost.

Amanda Parslow, a second-year Early Childhood Education student who has organized two student protests beside striking faculty this week, said students are not happy with the answers they are getting from the college regarding the integrity of their semesters.


MPP Sophie Kiwala speaks to striking faculty Friday

“What we hear from Glenn in emails is that they are working on getting us back into classes as soon as they can and that no student has ever lost a semester; however, we hear that the college is not even willing to go back to the table,” said Parslow. “It’s frustrating for students. How are we going to make up the time we’ve lost already?”

Kiwala met individually with strikers and students, pledging further meetings to hear their concerns, which she will take in person to Queen’s Park. She said she has already expressed concern to both the labour minister and the minister of Advanced Education and Skills development, pledging that she will continue lobbying for an end to this dispute. She also talked with college CEO Glenn Vollebregt as he entered the campus.

Ontario Public Service Employees Union local 417 president Grant Currie, who represents the striking workers, told Kiwala, “Clearly everyone is frustrated with management’s lack of interest in returning to the bargaining table. We don’t know why they do not want to settle this quickly.”

About 12,000 faculty, counsellors, and librarians at Ontario’s 24 colleges, left their jobs October 16 after representatives of the college system refused to address their final offer. Striking workers want nothing more than to get back into their classrooms with their students.

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For further information, contact Grant Currie, President OPSEU Local 417 at (613) 893-2505 or

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The anguish and the ecstasy

Without doubt, the college blogging assignment has always been one of my favourites. The act of writing in a public forum, where anyone anywhere in the world could read their prose, seems to compel students to do their best work.

Indeed, my first-year Advertising and Marketing Communications (AMC) students did just that last week when they wrote their first blogs for my Writing for Marketing course.

When I do this assignment, I always publish a Top 5 list of my favourite entries, so now I have the heart-rending task of selecting my favourite posts from last week. I have about 12 that I absolutely love, and I’ve identified seven that are Top 5 material. But I have to choose 5. Hence, I will list only posts that demonstrate more than just strong writing and adherence to the rubric I created to develop basic blog formatting and technical skills and online source documentation comprehension.

So here are my AMC Top 5 (in no particular order) blogs from last week:

Blog #1: I guess this makes me a blogger! by Brianne Garrah—Brianne satisfied all the requirementsscreen-shot-2017-01-26-at-12-17-42-pm of the rubric, but she went much further than the assignment’s baseline requirements. She embedded images so that the text wrapped cleanly around them and she used her photo captions as hyperlinks so that readers could link to the image sources. She also positioned her images so that her page looked balanced, and she provided relevant hyperlinks that were worth clicking. Her writing is crisp and one gets a sense of her character through her prose. Visit Brianne’s blog here or click the image to the right.

Blog #2: Reflection: having an identity by Ben Bisson—Like Brianne, Ben went beyond the screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-12-18-11-pmrubric’s requirements. He, too, cleanly embedded relevant hyperlinks and embedded his image, a photo of himself, on a hike, gazing upon a serene lake scene in the Gatineaus. He created a hyperlink with his photo that links to his blog’s About Me page, an effort that will encourage readers to stay longer on his blog site. Ben writes with depth and humility in this post. Well done, Ben. Visit Ben’s blog here or click the image of his blog to the left.

Blog #3: Proceed with caution, by Hilary Hoogwerf—Blogging “stresses” Hilary out, she screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-12-18-26-pmsays in the first line of her post. But you wouldn’t know it here. She has a strong writer’s voice and is an articulate writer. Hilary satisfies the rubric’s requirements and, like Brianne, has provided a hyperlink in her image caption that takes the reader to the source of her artwork. She has also embedded her image so that the text wraps cleanly around it without interrupting its flow. Visit Hilary’s blog here or click the image to the right.

Blog #4: Slogging ‘n’ blogging, by Tasha Latimer—”If you’re not a little nervous, you’re screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-12-18-58-pmnot really alive.” That’s how Tasha starts her blog. It’s a quote from a deodorant commercial. And what could be more fitting for an advertising student than to use a quote from an ad to describe how she feels about blogging? It was a creative and powerful way to open this first post by Tasha, and it sure got her point across. Instead of borrowing art from elsewhere, Tasha made her own. She crafted emotive black-and-white photos of herself using her phone’s simple editing tools. Who needs stock photos? Not Tara. Visit Tara’s blog here or click the image above.

Blog #5: Hello blogging world…it’s me, by Taetum Roseberry—This was the hardest one to screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-12-19-09-pmchoose, the last of my Top 5. Taetum satisfied most of the rubric’s requirements and went beyond the basic requirements in others. However, it was the way she expressed herself that compelled me to include her in the Top 5. Taetum is one of the quietest students in my class, but her writer’s voice is open, powerful, and confident while coming from a place of humility. If you want to get to know Taetum, reading her blog will likely be a great place to start. Visit Taetum’s blog here or click the image to the right.

I had so many favourite blogs that I couldn’t stop at five, so here are six more that are definitely worth checking out:

To blog or not to blog, by Kelly Keates—Kelly writes with style and her prose is nearly always immaculate. Visit Kelly’s blog here.

My start, by Casey Jonas—Casey is another one of my quiet students, but boy does she pack power in her prose. There is a lot going on inside this young writer’s head. Just read her blog and you’ll see that’s true. Visit Casey’s blog here.

Prepared for an image, by Liam Chesebrough—Liam is a solid writer, but you should check out his blog to get to his Instagram account where you can see—and more importantly hear—him playing some of the most moving electric guitar I’ve heard in years. This young man has soul. Sadly, he hasn’t yet put out an album, but he has promised to send me some of his music. I’m waiting, Liam… Visit Liam’s blog here.

Blogging for the first time, by Marianna Varela Mendoza—Marianna is a native of Venezuela, but her writing is so clean and crisp that you wouldn’t know English is her second language. Marianna is also a sophisticated thinker. I like how she took the time to figure out how to turn her images into hyperlinks that take the reader directly to her sources. Visit Marianna’s blog here.

God bless autocorrect, by Maggie Doherty—Maggie had some problems with the way the text in her blog was displayed (perhaps she’ll fix it by the time you see it). Nonetheless, there’s raw honesty in her writing, which probably comes from years of songwriting. Her blog provides a link to her Instagram account where you can watch and hear Maggie singing and playing guitar. Visit Maggie’s blog here.

You want to what? Blog? by Ben Lawrence—Ben adheres to most of the rubric’s requirements and demonstrates excellent thought organization in this first post, from start to finish. Visit Ben’s blog here.

Many other students also did some great work in their first blogs, but I have to stop somewhere. I’m hoping that I will get to highlight a whole other group of bloggers when students do their final posts for my course in mid-April.

Wherever you are in the world, please visit these students’ blogs and say hi. Show them that they are, indeed, writing for a global audience.


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Proceed with caution.

This is a nice start, Hilary. Keep it coming. And I’d love to see some of your art some day.


Blogging stresses me out, and knowing that the audience for my blog posts can be seen globally is stressful to me. I have never written for myself, or anyone other than my teachers; and now having an outlet for my thoughts and writing is nerve racking.

cautioncaution: new blogger

I would say that I write fairly well; other than writing for projects and such for school I don’t write at all. For me, writing doesn’t come naturally; I have to be given something to write about to be able to go forward with an assignment.

I do not have any past experiences in writing other than essays and other projects for school. For the most part, I’m not very passionate about writing, and the things that I write about mainly because I’m not interested in it.

Blogs have always been something I’ve been interested in. I made…

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A questionable start

You have a wonderful sense of humour. I read an article today on the 4 things recruiters look for when they research candidates online. One of those features is personality. You demonstrate oodles of it here. So keep on blogging, Justine.

Justine Gilholm

Do you have the urge to listen to an anti-social 18 year old ramble on about random issues for the sole purpose of entertaining a select few on the internet? Look no further, you’ve come to the right place. Hopefully over the next couple of months my writing will improve so much you may just shed a tear ( but let’s not get our hopes up).

As I’m sure you can already tell, my writing is like your first college boyfriend: a bit sloppy and certainly nothing to write home about. I’d like to think I’m on the right track to becoming a good writer, I just need a bit of practice. I usually find it difficult to wrap up a topic I’m discussing and finish with an impactful conclusion. Surely this blog will at least improve this issue.

My experiences as a writer are limited. Most people in…

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Never thought I’d be here.

I love this blog entry. One gets a sense of the writer’s personality, images have been cleanly embedded in the text (and they’ve been sourced), and my rubric has been followed. And, of course, the writing is clean. This will likely be an entry for the Greg Award Blogger of the Year. Students, if you want to know how to rock your blog assignment, check out Brianne’s blog.

Brianne Garrah

I guess this makes me a blogger!

screen-shot-2017-01-19-at-2-40-50-pmGet this image here.

I’ve hardly ever thought about myself as a writer. I’d usually groan and complain about having to write essays, never really feeling inspired to write. Yet somehow here I am – blogging for the entire world to hear my thoughts.

Now of course, I was encouraged to start blogging by my professors – they’re pretty much the ‘know all’ for what can lead us to success – and having a blog is really a great tool to use professionally. Some of the past AMC students have found success and gotten job offers because of their blogs!

Although, the thought of this post being on not only a public forum but one that can reach a global audience, is a little stressful, I am definitely up for the task. I feel that knowing everyone and their grandmother can see this adds some…

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