The York University strike has hit the two week mark but the fiery opinions aren't cooling down.
Teaching assistants, graduate assistants and contract staff are facing the cold reality of what it's like to walk the picket line, while
undergrads groan about canceled classes and the university stays defiant in offering a 9.25 per cent raise over three years.
On one hand, the grad pub is providing hot vegan meals (samosas, chili) and a never-ending supply of organic coffee, while CUPE is
clothing the picketers with cool fuchsia fleece scarves, and each picket line on the huge campus has a fire drum.
See, these MAs seem happy!
On the other hand the weather is freezing cold, and fulfilling the required hours of picketing a week is becoming uncomfortable for grad students and staff who are used to staying in cozy Vari Hall classrooms and offices.
The TAs, GAs, and staff get $10 an hour for showing up to picket, and can make a maximum of $200 a week.
For the commuting picketers who make up the vast majority of strikers, TTC and regional buses are not driving into the campus. Being left on the fringes of Canada's biggest university campus is not convenient, and some picketers are left with a half hour walk to the other end of the campus where they are scheduled to picket.
While walking the line, picketing students alternate jobs: working the gates, handing out flyers, all while boom boxes blast Michael Jackson or the artists du jour (Rage Against the Machine perhaps?).
They let a car through cold metal gates every two minutes, all while trying to maintain the picket lines, and while avoiding confrontation
from angry people who can no longer use York streets as shortcuts.
While the strike madness is getting messy at York, Christie Kifsore, one of York's 50,000 undergraduate students, is at home playing Mario Brothers.
"I'm a gamer now," she says. "I'm paying tuition not to learn. There's no way we can catch up on material we've lost."
She had plans of going to overseas for a graduate program in 2009, and was crushed to learn the strike will delay her degree.
Meanwhile, on Monday, there was supposed to be an undergrad uprising, but only about 100 undergrads showed up to the empty Keele St. campus.
Progressive Conservative MPP Peter Shurman showed up, but he couldn't draw a crowd either.
While undergrads are hating the time off, some students, like first-year Fladia Chowdhary, support the striking staff.
She's part of the Undergrads for 3903 group, and she's been out picketing with the staff for the past two weeks.
"I come to do this because I support the people who teach me 80 per cent of my education," she says. "I know nobody is happy about this, but at least I can support them."