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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Classes dismissed?

Mike Fleury walks off the job.

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2006 at 7:09 AM

Last week, we gave you an update on the talks between Saint Mary’s University administration and the Saint Mary’s University Faculty Union, as the two sides try to negotiate a new collective agreement and avoid a labour dispute that could potentially disrupt classes at the university. Meanwhile, nervous students get to drown their fears in all the joy and excitement of exam season. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Both sides have committed that there will be no disruptions before the new year, a commitment that gets less reassuring which each passing day. With just over two weeks to go before 2007, faculty union president Larry Haiven gave us a call with an update on the talks.

“Both sides will be talking with the third party mediator this weekend, on the 16th and 17th,” he says. Haiven says both sides will continue to negotiate through the holiday season, if necessary.

Although he’s still optimistic that an agreement can be worked out, Haiven also says the lengthy process is taking a toll on the relationship between the full-time profs and SMU administration.

“They tend to use the line, ‘We’ve always had this great relationship, and everything will be fine,’” he says. “But that’s not enough...It has been great, but some of the gleam of that relationship is starting to wear off. There’s some bitterness and that’s starting to show up in the negotiations.

“It’s not a broken relationship, yet. It’s not like other universities where both parties can’t stand each other. But there is frustration.”

Haiven says that the union has kept a close watch on recent labour negotiations at other Canadian universities, including Brock and Carleton. He says that the faculty is concerned about SMU’s ability to remain competitive and retain talented professors.

“But, no matter which way you cut it, the students get caught in the middle” he says. “It’s like labour disputes in hospitals. The patients and their families are affected. I wish there was another way, but unfortunately, that’s what happens.”

Gawking at Halifax

Gawker.com, our favourite source for Manhattan media and news gossip, mentioned Chronicle- Herald columnist Peter Duffy this week in their ongoing series, Great Moments in Journalism. If you’re unfamiliar with Gawker, we should point out: this is not nearly as flattering as it might seem.

Why? Because in this instance, “Great” actually means “Not so great,” and “Journalism” means “Tales of being violated by a ghost.” Duffy wrote about a disturbing nocturnal visit from some kind of faceless, hooded spectre in his December 7 column, and then again in his December 9 column. It came to him while he was lying in bed.

“I don’t know how, or why, but instinctively, I knew it was a demon of some kind,” Duffy asserted. “There’s no delicate way to put this; I was vividly aware of this creature violating me.”

Frankly, that does sound like a delicate way of implying something more sinister, without being clear about the details. All we know for certain is that one night, some kind of supernatural demon violated Peter Duffy. Those, for the time being, are the facts.

Still, the two-part series raised more questions than it answered, such as “Will this mysterious spirit strike again?” and “How did this kind of craziness ever make it into a newspaper?”

Make you sick? Email: mikef@thecoast.ca

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