The University of St Andrews, contrary to a motion passed by the Students’ Representative Council earlier this month, has stated that it will penalise students who take part in strike action by not attending lectures.
Clause 5 of the motion, section “This SRC Resolves” read: “To urge the University not to penalise the absence of students from tutorials and lectures during the strike period.”
The 14 days of strike action by the UCU during February and March are currently taking place following potential cuts to the pensions of University staff.
strike action will not be regarded as a legitimate excuse for absence
In reference to the motion a spokesperson for the University said, “Students should continue to attend classes as normal and the strike action will not be regarded as a legitimate excuse for absence. This has been confirmed locally by several Schools and it was made clear by the Deans to School Presidents before the action began.
“Unfortunately some people (both staff and students) are urging students not to cross picket lines. Students should be clear that pickets are for staff, not students, and they can go wherever they like.”
The spokesperson continued, “Students are expected to continue their studies as best they can whether classes are cancelled or not. Most will have reading lists and all have a good knowledge of how to approach a new subject, thanks to their high level of intelligence and the good teaching they have received to date. They can expect that assessments will be fair: that means that, for example, marking will take missed material into account. However, if reading material is available even though a lecture is cancelled, an assessment could quite reasonably be based to some extent on such reading.”
Association President Lewis Wood speaking to The Saint said, “Zachary Davis [Director of Education] and I spoke to the Proctor during our usual course of meetings. We discussed the strike action, and it was made clear that support for strike action would not be used as an adequate reason for absence, nor was this a changeable stance.
“The University have been sent a copy of the final motion, including a list of our resolutions. We will continue to advocate in student interests for the duration of the strike period as opportunities arise, and as appropriate.”
Mr Wood continued, “The priority for Zachary and I will continue to be the minimisation of the impact of strikes on the education that students receive. We have faith in our student community to continue to work hard, and independently if need be, to achieve their full potential. Students are, of course, welcome to approach us for any support that we can provide.”
The St Andrews Socialist Society who are staunch supporters of the motion asserted that they were “disappointed” but not “surprised”.
A spokesperson for the society said, “The SRC is one of the few democratically elected organs of the University, tasked exclusively with representing the best interest of the student body. Disregarding their unanimous vote on the issue amounts to disregarding the student population and their best interests, as well as the single largest unified expression of the student democratic process.
The St Andrews Socialist Society is DISAPPOINTED, but not surprised
“Specifically clause 5 of the motion, urging lecturers not to punish students for choosing not to attend class in solidarity with the strikers, was almost gutted at the initiative of Association President Lewis Wood, supported by Society’s Officer Pia Szabo and other sabbatical officers.
“Clause 5 is the central point of the entire motion, and the combined failure and resistance of the University and what it can reliably consider its sabbaticals to its content is an affront to the students of this university.”
They continued, “However, the St Andrews Socialist Society, as well as the general student population, would be delighted to work together with our sabbaticals in actively fighting for the motion that they have passed. We firmly believe that the sabbaticals’ unwillingness to take a stand on Clause V constitutes one of the single greatest obstacles towards a resolution of the strike.”