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UNBC students start 24-hour sit-in

A cluster of students sat in a circle of chairs Wednesday morning to launch a 24-hour sit-in at the University of Northern BC to call for an end to the strike.

A cluster of students sat in a circle of chairs Wednesday morning to launch a 24-hour sit-in at the University of Northern BC to call for an end to the strike.

"If (students are) out of the administration's sight, we're out of mind," said one of the organizers, Linda Horianopoulos, from her spot inside the administration building.

"That's what we feel like we've been so far."

A group of almost 30 students sat, making sure to keep at least four feet of hallway clear to comply with instructions from the risk and safety officer.

Their backpacks off to the side, stuffed with food and sleeping gear, some students like Horianopoulos planned to stay the duration.

"We want to show the administration that we want a solution to the strike as soon as possible and we want them to have a sense of urgency about it," said Horianopoulos of the plan that was hatched just the day before.

The students, as did Citizen staff, got permission from faculty to cross the picket line.

The number of students was expected to change through the day and into the night as students arrived in shifts.

"This has gone on too long and it's getting really scary at this point because this is six months of my life that we're gambling with here," said fourth-year fisheries and wildlife student Megan Anstey.

"I feel it's an unstoppable force meaning an immovable object and that is where they are right now. neither side wants to really concede their points or back up and something needs to give here," said Anstey, 27, who said she supports the faculty's call for fair compensation.

Kirsten Reimer said she was frustrated with the lack of action.

As a tutor who also works at the campus pub, the strike has hit her particularly hard. With the Canada Winter Games, she hasn't worked in about a month.

"I can't go much longer," said Reimer, a fourth-year biochemistry student.

But she's also worried about the quality of her degree and can't access the lab to work on her thesis.

"There is a certain point where you can't fit all the material left in the semester. We're coming up on that point soon; it's like the end of this week. so if it goes past that it means we're going to cut material and that's going to compromise the quality of our degrees."

Lon Kerr, who is in the second year of the same degree, echoed that sentiment.

"All I can do is read textbooks and do practice problems," said the 21-year-old, who said he needs access to his professors to understand that knowledge. "Without that tutelage, I'm building holes in my education."

Reimer called for more transparency and communication from both sides - but mostly she said there's no excuse not to be at the bargaining table. The two sides haven't met since a brief get-together Monday.

"They're not bargaining. from my perspective as a student, I'm sitting here with my life on hold, not getting paid, not going to school and I expect them to be bargaining 24/7 to get this done."

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