York University   Update on CUPE 3903 Labour Dispute

Important Advice from the 
Executive Committee of Senate

The Executive Committee of Senate has prepared this communication in response to questions posed by members of the University community.  It contains important information for students, faculty members and staff. The document will be updated as more information becomes available.

What You Need to Know About the Senate Policy on Disruptions

The Senate is York University’s highest authority on academic matters.  It brings together students, faculty members, administrators, staff, alumni, members of the Board of Governors and others in the community.   Senate has a policy that applies when a disruption of academic activities occurs: the Policy on the Academic Implications of Disruptions or Cessations of University Business Due to Labour Disputes or Other Causes.  This policy is based on three core principles:

Academic Integrity
Fairness to Students
Timely Information

The following is an explanation of the rights and responsibilities under the Disruptions Policy (also known as Senate policy # 008). Numbers in square brackets refer to sections of the policy, which can be found at:


What has Changed Under the Present Circumstances... And What Has Not

In normal circumstances, students who do not to attend class are liable (1) to academic penalties, and (2) to receive little or no access to the material they missed.  They are also solely responsible for (3) finding out what they missed, and (4) for mastering that material.

In a long disruption, such as the one caused by the present strike, The Disruptions Policy changes  (1), (2), and (3), but not (4).  That policy requires that students  (1) suffer no academic penalties and receive reasonable extensions of deadlines; that they be given (2) reasonable alternative access to the material covered in their absence; and  (3) timely information about altered arrangements.   Note, however, that (4) has not changed [2.2.2]: students who miss classes taught during the strike still bear the ultimate responsibility for mastering material.

What is "Academic Integrity" and Why Does It Comes First?

Senate’s primary responsibility is the integrity of York’s academic standards. [2.1] The Senate’s Executive Committee has the power to resolve any conflicts between the principles of integrity and fairness to students [], but  must do so by giving priority to academic integrity [2.2.2]  Not even Senate itself may abrogate this in providing other remedies to students [2.2.1-2].

Thus, instructors may not dilute standards to make it easier to complete their courses, and they may not reduce course content beyond what is affected by the adjustments to instructional periods.

On "Penalties"

 Penalties can include grade reductions for late or incomplete work, and the denial of academic credit.  An academic penalty does not include every form of disadvantage that might result from not attending class.  Having to complete alternative assignments, to attend make-up classes, or to work on one’s own are not penalties.

On "Reasonable Alternative Access"

"Access" means that the material covered must be made available to students who did not attend classes during the strike.  It does not mean that classes must be "re-taught." Instructors must, however, make those materials available to all students on a reasonable basis in light of the nature of the instruction missed and the practicalities of provision.  This does not mean ideal access to the material [2.2.3], and it is now clear that such access will not be identical to what students who attended would have had.

Senate Executive assumes that different forms of access are appropriate to different forms of instruction, and that no particular form of access is required in any given case.  For example, any of the following might, alone or in combination, be reasonable: audio or video recordings of classes, summaries of class notes, make-up classes, question and answer sessions, or detailed guides to reading. However, providing a mere reading list or a list of topics covered is not reasonable alternative access.  In courses where lectures are closely tied to textbook material, students should have opportunities to explore the textbook material with instructors.

Senate has also determined that 'such access should be sufficient that it is reasonable to expect that students relying on such access be able to attain a level of achievement in the course material that is not significantly less than if they were attending classes during a disruption.'  This is an interpretative direction and not an amendment to the Disruptions Policy.  The reference to the reasonableness of the expectation is understood in light of the fundamental principles of The Disruptions Policy.  The reference to the ability to do well is understood in light of students' continuing obligation to master any material missed.  Students' actual achievement depends on the material to which they have access, on their willingness to avail themselves of that access, and on their diligence in fulfilling their obligations under the Disruptions Policy.

The Disruptions Policy contemplates that these accommodations are to be determined, as far as possible, at the individual course level.  However, Senate requires that all students in a single class be offered the same forms of access, and that students in different sections of a course be offered substantially similar access. 

Decisions That Affect You

Since the beginning of the disruption, a number of important decisions have been made.  Please be aware of the following:

Note: Other measures may be required to achieve the objectives of the Disruptions Policy.

Other Possible Adjustments to Sessional Dates and Examination Schedules

Members of the University community have been asking about possible adjustments to the academic terms and examination schedules.  The Executive Committee of Senate has reviewed different scenarios for making the necessary adjustments to term dates and examination schedules. However, it is impossible to predict when the strike will end, so it may be that none of the following scenarios will actually apply.  This information was provided by the Registrar for illustrative purposes only. 

 Example One

The first example assumes that a settlement is reached on November 20 and CUPE instructors return to classes on November 22.  The F, W and Y terms and the examination schedule could be adjusted as follows:

Last Day of Classes: December 19
First Day of Examinations: January 3
Last Day of Examinations: January 13
First Day of the Winter Term: January 15

Example Two

The second example assumes that a settlement is reached on November 27 and CUPE instructors return to classes on November 29.  The F, W and Y terms and the examination schedule could be adjusted as follows:

Last Day of Classes: January 5
First Day of Examinations: January 6
Last Day of Examinations: January 16
First Day of the Winter Term: January 17

Finding Information and Ensuring Your Rights: Follow These Steps

It is assumed that students will take responsibility for finding information about the disruption and  the status of courses and classes.  Information can be found on the University’s Website.  In addition, some Faculties, departments and programmes have posted information on their Web pages.

Students with questions about the status of their courses or concerns about their rights should follow these steps:

  1. Contact individual course directors in the first instance.

  2. If you are unable to contact a course director or feel uncomfortable doing so, you should consult the head of the applicable programme or department (in those Faculties that have programmes or departments).

  3. If you remain unsatisfied, you should contact the Associate Dean of the Faculty responsible for offering the course or courses in question.  See below for a list of Associate Deans, together with e-mail addresses and telephone numbers.

If, after these steps have been tried and you do not have the information you need or continue to have concerns, you may send an electronic mail message to the University Secretariat, the office responsible for supporting Senate and Senate Executive.  A special address has been created for this purpose  – sen008@yorku.ca  –  but messages should only be sent only after you have taken the steps described above.  Written communications can also be sent by FAX to 736-5769.  Concerns will be noted in confidence, and forwarded to the attention of the appropriate office or individual. 

Resolving Issues

Although a disruption has occurred, as far as possible, the University’s normal mechanisms for resolving issues will continue to be used.

Senate Executive has the authority to provide remedies that would normally be available by petition.  No decisions have yet been made in this regard.

Normal petition processes will continue to be available through students’ home Faculties.  The Senate Appeals Committee will monitor petitions and appeals to ensure fairness and reasonable consistency of outcomes.

Associate Dean(s)       

Heather Campbell 736-5260 hcampbel@yorku.ca 

Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies
Joanne Magee 736-5220            jmagee@yorku.ca 

Don Dippo 736-5009   askedu@edu.yorku.ca 

Environmental Studies
Lewis Molot      736-5284     lmolot@yorku.ca 

Fine Arts
Barbara Dodge 735-5136            ask_ffa@yorku.ca 

Louise Lewin (Academic) or Francoise Boudreau
487-6716 infogreve@glendon.yorku.ca OR strikeinfo@glendon.yorku.ca 

Graduate Studies
Sharon Murphy 736-5481  smurphy@edu.yorku.ca 
Ron Pearlman 736-5481 ronp@yorku.ca 

Osgoode Hall Law School
Shelley Gavigan 736-5031 asocd@yorku.ca 

Pure & Applied Science
David Logan            736-5051  dlogan@yorku.ca

Schulich School of Business
David Dimick 736-5097 sharrison@schulich.yorku.ca 

November 16, 2000

 York University