I think most of you know that I am a PhD student in music at York U. I love it there, and I feel so grateful for the opportunity to work and study with the amazing folks I have met along the way. You may also know then, that York U CUPE 1, 2, 3 employees, meaning TAs, Contract Professors and Graduate Assistants were on strike from March 5 to July 25, almost 5 months. Some picketed, some didn’t. Some participated in union activities, some didn’t. To say that the issues are still unresolved would be a huge understatement; we haven’t been paid by the university, we don’t know what our new contracts will look like, the problems that caused the labour dispute were not addressed, and we have all had significant setbacks in our plans and progress. It will be ‘good times’ on campus as fall classes begin with many winter and summer courses still unfinished, the enrollment process incomplete, and low morale to say the least. And so from here we move forward.
Here are some things, written as directions to myself, I learned from the strike:
1) Speak up. Understand what you need to be well, and to be valued in the world. Own it and communicate it. Set boundaries to ensure you stay well. If someone or something crosses your boundaries, enforce them.
2) Everyone is doing the best they can. Though tempers may flare, and choices may be limited, people on all sides are just doing the best they can in every situation. Don’t take things personally and do the best you can for yourself. Let others deal with their own upset.
3) Be self-motivated and self-assured. Don’t wait for permission to do or be. Make your own timeline and chart your own course. Use processes and procedures as fuel not excuses. Decide what information you need to complete your mission and don’t stop until you have it. You are in charge of your success.
4) Choose wellness. Manage upset, regulate emotions, and take time every day to invest in personal peace. Be responsible for your own actions and reactions. Create a schedule that includes time for wellness practices.
I don’t know what to expect in the next few weeks. I’m not sure yet what the fall will bring, and I feel pretty okay with that. Bring it on, September! Bring it on, PhD! I’m in it for the long haul now.