Students at Sheffield University have been left frustrated after being offered ‘insulting’ free Pilates classes to compensate for missed teaching and disruption caused by strikes.
Universities throughout the country have seen more strike action this March, making it the third round of strikes students have been put through this academic year.
On March 22, the psychology department at Sheffield sent out an email to students advertising a Pilates session that was organised in recognition of the stress caused to them by the strikes. However, places were limited and students were told to bring their own mats to the session.
A second year psychology student told The Times:
‘It was insensitive of them to think that it would correct all the wrongdoings, that an hour’s free Pilates class would compensate for the thousands of pounds that we’ve lost from not being supported and being left in the dark.’
The Sheffield Students’ Union writes on their website that their priority is to ‘support every student at the University of Sheffield throughout the strikes.’
‘We understand that there will be a range of opinions held by our student body. We know that the strikes will cause major disruption to students’ learning, while also acknowledging that academic staff’s working conditions are our learning conditions and need to improve,’ they state.
As a student who has had an overwhelmingly disrupted university experience because of strikes, I would be incredibly insulted if my university offered a pilates session in order to help us ‘de stress.’
UCU has stated their demands to universities over and over, and I would suggest that universities’ time would be better spent figuring out how they can meet these demands and put an end to the strikes. No one wants a free pilates session, we want the teaching time we have paid £9000 a year for.
I feel frustrated. I have racked up over £27,000 of student debt for an education I have not received in any capacity. All three years of my degree have been disrupted by strikes and in my most important year, my final year, I am struggling hugely to get any teaching at all. However, I also support what the strikers are pushing for, and would urge universities to think about what is best for their staff and students. Is that pilates? Or is it working towards ending the strikes? I think we know what the answer is.