In December, faculty at York University concerned about the plight of their students during the current strike responded by creating a special bursary fund – the York University Undergraduate Student Hardship Fund – to help students with financial hardships.
Now, with no immediate return to classes in sight, organizers of the York Undergraduate Student Hardship Fund have renewed their call for donations to help students cope with the financial impact of the strike.
According to the fund’s organizers, Professors Megan Davies and Paul Antze, many students at York face serious financial hardship from lost income and unexpected expenses due to the ongoing labour dispute. Undergraduates who held on-campus jobs and those who had been expecting to work full time between terms have been forced to put their plans on hold. Many expect to be paying more for rent, food, daycare and transportation. International and out-of-province students face additional costs from changes in travel plans.
Like many other York faculty, Davies has had numerous reports of students losing their accommodation, of having to choose between completing courses and much-needed summer jobs, and of on-campus work lost at the outset of the strike.
Antze adds that financial hardships arising from the current strike are “likely to be in the same ballpark” as those reported after a previous faculty strike in 1997. At that time a survey by York’s Institute for Social Research found that the strike had cost students a total of about $12 million in lost summer earnings, or an average of $630 per student. By contrast he said, “Up to now we’ve collected just over $26,000 in the Hardship Fund, $10,000 of that from the York University Faculty Association. Given the level of need we’re seeing, this is barely a beginning.”
While Antze acknowledged that the fund could not be expected to meet the full extent of student losses from the strike, he noted that up to now just over 90 individuals (75 faculty and 15 staff) have contributed. “I’m sure we can do much better than this,” he said, “enough to have a real impact. Students will look at the fund – its size and the number of donors – and draw their own conclusions. Simply knowing that many of their profs have contributed will certainly improve the way they feel about York as they return to classes.”
Donations to the Undergraduate Student Hardship Fund are received through the York University Foundation and donations are fully tax-deductible. Students will apply to the Office of Student Financial Services for the bursaries, which will be awarded on the basis of criteria set out by a committee of faculty, students and staff. Application forms will be ready shortly and grants will be awarded until June 30, 2009, or until the fund is depleted. Any money left will go to Student Financial Services for their Student Emergency Fund.
All individuals and organizations wishing to make a tax deductible donation to the fund can do so by following the instructions set out below. If you would like to make a gift in tribute or in memory of someone, make mention of this when making the phone donation, in a letter when mailing in a donation or in the space provided when donating online. If you would like an in tribute/in memory card sent out to them or their family, please supply the appropriate mailing address
To give online: Visit the York University Foundation Web site and click on the "Give Now, Click Here" button on the left side. When filling out the online donation form under "First Allocation" please be sure to click on "Other" and in the box provided please write "York University Undergraduate Hardship Fund".
To give by mail: Please fill out a copy of the printable donation form and send in with a cheque made payable to "York University Foundation" to the address below. In the cheque’s "memo" line please write: York University Undergraduate Hardship Fund. Mail the cheque to the following address:
York University Foundation
Attention: Andrea Lucas, Senior Development Officer
West Office Building, 4700 Keele St.
Toronto, ON M3J 1P3
To give by phone/credit card: Please call 416-650-8210 and ask to make a donation by credit card to support the "York University Undergraduate Hardship Fund".