The Hidden Effects of Striking

A writer discusses the hidden effects of striking upon students.

Sam Norman
20th February 2022
Some strike affects are obvious, some are hidden... Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Newcastle University’s UCU Strike Action of 2022 is officially well underway, and whilst the Student Union has expressed its support, many students are also feeling like a forgotten casualty of the strikes. 

Job security, equal pay and the right to pensions are all understandable factors in driving staff to strike. Students have shown solidarity with this, following the student union’s vote where 53.3% of the 1600 voters supported the strike action. With 42.0% not supporting the action, there is still a clear segment of students who are against the striking. But why? The strike is for numerous reasonable causes that many would struggle to argue with, so is it potentially the methods that are driving students to oppose the striking. Whilst ensuring equal pay of course takes priority over students inconvenienced with missing the odd lecture, the complete disregard of students needs is not an appropriate casualty.

Commuting to University is a common case at Newcastle, with most of the city conveniently lying within one square mile and metros operating all through the day. However, those commuting have quite possibly been the most burdened by strikes, with many lecturers not bothering to give any notice of cancelled lectures. The money on early morning metros and the time of travelling are therefore becoming a complete waste, where if notice was given, something much more practical could be taking place. Even those in accommodation are feeling the brunt of this, throwing away time in walks from Gateshead through to campus. Whilst this chaos is a usual ingredient in any strikes, it begs the question, is it necessary to get a message across? Why should students’ education have to succumb to victims of this chaos?

With the second semester only just beginning, mid-module assignments seem a world away, however, a near three weeks of striking completely transforms that. Speaking to fellow Newcastle first-year student Oscar, who is on unknown territory with a new module, he will receive no seminars before his Mid-Module assignment, contributing towards his final grade, is due. With the consequences only further amplified for second and third-year students, it creates a vast disadvantage for those going into an assignment with little to no guidance. Adding even more difficulty, some students are fortunately still receiving seminars, but this level of inconsistency just creates a widespread platform of imbalance and inequality with students not on the same playing field. 

For me, the strikes are an understandable response to blatant disregard by senior University officials. They are fighting for reasonable and worthy causes that should be basic rights, however, the ends aren’t exactly justifying the means. This level of ‘chaos’ leaves a bad taste and seems overly reliant on the domino effect of student’s complaining about lack of teaching, wanting tuition fees lowered and senior officials meeting strike’s demands rather than anger of students. Whilst of course it is not as direct and simple as that, the weaponizing of students is a hidden effect of striking that is taking masses of attention away from the reason over 20,000 students are paying to be present, for an education they deserve. 

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AUTHOR: Sam Norman
Head of Current Affairs 23/24. Campus Comment Sub-editor 22/23. BA English Language and Literature Student.

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