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Student questions about the strikes...

On Friday we organised a Strikes Open Meeting alongside Goldsmiths UCU for students to ask questions and share concerns about the upcoming strike action. For those who couldn’t make it, here are some of the questions that were asked… 


How can we get our money back? 
SU: Keep a disruption diary and log all of your missed teaching. You can apply for compensation at the end of the strike action. Keep an eye on our website for more info. 

Hi, I’m a 3rd year student and this strike affects my dissertation as I can’t start my research until I get ethical approval and this will be delayed by three weeks because of the strike. Will deadlines for the submission of work change because of this?
Goldsmiths UCU: This is difficult to answer on a general basis but I would encourage any students to go to their departmental admin team to ask them directly. If you’re struggling with that, do get in touch with ourselves and the Students’ Union, and we will try to support that.


Someone mentioned to me that certain visas require a given level of attendance. For foreign students who wish to strike in solidarity, how will not attending classes affect this?
Goldsmiths UCU: You wouldn’t be marked as absent for not attending those that have been cancelled. But if your teaching hasn’t been cancelled, and you’re facing visa issues for not attending, then we understand. We wouldn’t expect you to jeopardise your visa status for this, as there are alternative ways to show solidarity. Have a look at this page for ideas.


We’re heard that certain departments have been encouraged to engage in ‘strike breaking’ behaviour. We’re worried this will divide students. What do you think?
SU: I’d think more about what you can do to educate those students about this? That could be through work on the ground… and by trying to show them why it’s so important. 
Goldsmiths UCU: If they don’t want to cross the picket line but their lecturer does - then they won’t be penalised in terms of their attendance. 


Will the Library be picketed? Can we access Disability Services?
SU: By accessing those spaces, you won’t be crossing the picket line. It’s also important to note that because of Covid-19, lots of these services have been running online - so you can ask them to be done that way during this period. 


Is there potential for more/extended strikes to happen throughout the year?
Goldsmiths UCU: Yes, there is. Our approach to this issue has been to try and formulate a strong response as soon as possible, partially to avoid this. But until we get movement on SMT (Senior Management Team), that does remain a possibility. Unfortunately, with the scale of the problems caused by the restructure plans, some disruption is unavoidable. 


How do these strikes actually negatively affect the University/SMT? They are saving (and apparently pocketing) £1mil from these strikes, so why would they bend to the demands of striking lecturers as a result?
Goldsmiths UCU: There’s an enormous amount of reputational damage and it disrupts the Universities ability to run as normal. The key thing is that students don’t blame their striking lecturers - we need you to be angry at SMT, because that’s when the issues will be solved. It’s more of a political struggle in many ways. And striking is the only thing that’s really helped in the past. The primary onus then seems to be put on students to act - this seems unfair considering we are already making up for three lost weeks of teaching?
SU: We agree - this is such a difficult situation. It’s a very valid question but it’s important to reframe it… what’s happening to staff is inherently connected to students. The recovery plan is going to directly impact the future of students. This will affect you. These three weeks will be nothing compared to what is planned in the next year or so.


Is the compensation form something to be signed by all students or is it individual? 
SU: Individual, because everyone pays for their university experience separately. We would also encourage a collective letter and directing that to SMT. 


Is the UCU/uni staff optimistic about the outcome of these strikes? 
Goldsmiths UCU: We can feel a palpable change this time… and that’s been reflected in our ballots that have been carried out. The results of those have been unprecedented, and a lot higher than any other previous actions, which does show the seriousness of what we’re facing. If the management get away with this round of cuts, then there will be more down the line because this is all about turning Goldsmiths into a profit making institution which is driven by the banks. Frances Corner (the Warden) hasn’t been to a single negotiating meeting so far. Now, days before the strike action is about to begin, we’re having negotiating meetings with management. We don’t want to take this action but we’re being forced into it. 


How are we getting those three weeks back? Will lectures for the weeks that we are on strike be uploaded once it’s over?
Goldsmiths UCU: No they won’t. We’re not going to be doing regularly scheduled teaching for the work the university expects from us at this time - that’s not how it works. But there are teach-outs (alternative educational spaces) that we’ll be running throughout the strikes, so there’s a lot going on. The strike is also a huge opportunity for learning as these kind of problems in a workplace may well happen in your lives as students, so knowing how to deal with these problems collectively is so important.


Where can we find info about the teach-out programme?
Goldsmiths UCU: For the outdoor teach-outs and those which are held online, everyone is welcome to attend. For the indoor ones, no booking required but we hope to keep the numbers low for pandemic safety. Go to any you want! Take at the schedule which will constantly be updated here.


Will lecturers upload pre-recorded lecturers after the strike?
Goldsmiths UCU: No, if they’re striking then they won’t be uploading the lecture material after the strike is over. They won’t get paid and they’re not working through those three weeks. So anything during that normal period, won’t happen. 


For more FAQs, take a look at this page of our website.