Dentistry Students on UMFA Picket Line

It was amazing to see at least 20 students from dentistry walking the picket line today in support of the University of Manitoba Faculty Association as they enter their third week on strike. It’s clear that these students care deeply about their faculty.

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These awesome dentistry students and their peers were a huge inspiration on the picket line.

“They pretty much mean everything to our education,” dentistry student Riley said of their faculty. “They do it all for us – this is the least we can do for them.”

Faculty in dentistry could take up private practice but choose to enter the public service and teach at a university, going on strike to defend quality education, Riley said.

I happened to interview a group of men but many of the dentistry students supporting their faculty on the picket line were women.

What struck me in speaking with these dentistry students is how they see faculty as not just teachers, but as friends, future coworkers, mentors and people they truly admire and respect.

“At the end of the day these are the best-of-the-best and they make us better people,” Trent said.

The dentistry faculty is small and classes are also intimate, so bonds are formed. Faculty are also really attentive to students in the program and support and participate in student initiatives like their running club, Trent said.

“We’re not just numbers in a classroom. You’re on a first name basis with the profs and we know each other’s lives,” Randy said.

Trent had been on a picket line before as an Air Canada worker, but this UMFA strike is the first time many students in dentistry have been on a picket line.

“It’s cool to see support like this and it brings everyone together,” Trent said. “It’s weird how hard situations like this can bring everyone together for a common goal, for a fair deal.”

Karm is in his first semester in dentistry yet he found himself supporting faculty on the picket line today with many other peers.

“These relationships are built from day one, and I’ve spent a bit of time with profs, but we get to know so much about each other,” Karm said. “It goes past the classroom and they are going to be our future colleagues one day. We want to show them that support, just as they support us.”

WHAT NEXT?

- Continue joining picket lines and speaking to students, peers and community members about the strike;

- UMSU is hosting an action this Friday to demand a fair deal. HERE is the event page. Be there!

- Follow UMFA updates on their website, Facebook and Twitter;

- Contact the Student Action Network or Students Supporting UMFA if you're a student that wants to get involved.

OPEN MEETING SATURDAY: Solidarity Winnipeg has an open meeting this Saturday at 1 p.m. and you are invited to attend. We will be introducing people to the organization and getting to know one-another before starting our regular members' meeting. Event page HERE.

RALLY ON MONDAY: the provincial Progressive Conservatives have played a meddling hand in this labour negotiation and the Pallister PCs will be outlining their agenda in the months ahead at this Monday's Throne Speech. Join us on the Legislative building front steps at 12 p.m. to speak against the PC agenda and to propose positive alternatives. Event page HERE.

Matthew Brett is a member of Solidarity Winnipeg. The views in this piece are his own.

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