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UNBC students not happy with response

The students who marched up the hill Friday and again Monday demanding compensation for lost school time are not satisfied with the University of Northern B.C.'s response.

The students who marched up the hill Friday and again Monday demanding compensation for lost school time are not satisfied with the University of Northern B.C.'s response.

University president Daniel Weeks released a statement to students Tuesday morning after meeting with a group of about 25 students the day before about the impact of the almost two-week long strike.

"I realize that the faculty strike is not of your doing, and that you carry the brunt of this action. Short of announcing that the strike is over, there is little I can say that will satisfy your expectations," he said in the statement.

Weeks said as president he can't make decisions without approval from the Board of Governors.

"Let me reassure you, I will investigate every possibility to ensure you receive compensation when the full scope of the job action is known."

UNBC student Natalie Vogt was at both meetings.

"We were hoping to get a written statement of some sort guaranteeing that we will be compensated in some form, money and credit wise for courses," Vogt said.

"We're not satisfied with that response," she said. "I'm not at all surprised with that response but it doesn't mean we're going to stop there."

The group formed organically after a call for action at a student rally last Thursday. On Friday, a dozen students marched the hill and then on Monday, they brought out about 25.

"The more numbers, the stronger voice we have," said the 25-year-old, who is taking courses required to apply to a physiotherapy program.

Vogt said many are in an awkward position and stressed about their situation.

She pointed to international students, who are in limbo, uncertain of whether to extend their visas. She pointed to students like her who need specific credits now in order to qualify for programs starting in the coming fall semester.

"There's a lot of uncertainty and we want to be rest assured that we don't have to worry about our classes not counting in the end because we paid for it and we're not getting we paid for."

The Graduate Students' Society president said she's hoping the strike will be resolved quickly, but is trying to plan for the worst-case scenario.

"We've seen both teams come back to the table multiple times without resolution," said Jessy Rajan.

The faculty association and the university met briefly Monday, but have reported no new plans to meet after the faculty's proposal Saturday.

On Tuesday afternoon, the university posted its response to the faculty, saying it represented "little substantive change" to the initial proposal in June 2014.

The university acknowledged the compensation gap exists for UNBC faculty members - a problem created through past agreements - and said it "is committed to taking steps to address this important matter."

Rajan said she's hearing from frustrated students, many who are worried about rent and other financial responsibilities.

"There's overwhelming concern among the student body," she said. 'We don't know how to proceed."

The graduate society has sent letter to the faculty, administration and the City of Prince George calling on each to consider donations to the food bank and calling for emergency funds be made available for students in need.

Rajan said the group also sent a letter to Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson, which a statement said "was drafted to address the government's lack of support and apparent disinterest in the state of public education institutions in northern British Columbia."

A group of students will meet with the the faculty Wednesday night to address their questions, but the meeting is not open to the public.