AS THEY STRUGGLE TO FIND WORK AND ACCOMMODATIONS???
While stories about international students sleeping in cars, property managers forcing students to squeeze into houses, and under-employed students are becoming old news in the Third; it seems a new story is unfolding, one that could have tragic outcomes, as students are forced to find solutions for problems that some say are not of their making.
Not even a week into classes at CBU, some students who have not found employment, and in some instances a place to live, say they have had no choice but to move to Halifax and commute several times a week back and forth between CBU and the provincial capital.
Some are carpooling, often with strangers; some are taking taxis at flat rates, others use Maritime Bus, and others prefer one of the many shuttle services that exist in the Third.
The Third reached out recently to JK&B’s Shuttle Service to get some context on the number of students that they take back and forth to Halifax.
Considering that the service was established to respond to the increased demand, it should be no surprise that the business estimates that 70 percent of its travelers are CBU students. Co-owner, Belisca Rohrback, said the students are calling everyday looking for a seat in one direction or the other.
The shuttle service is currently charging $100 for a one-way trip. Considering the price of gas and everything else that has risen, the service believes that it is providing a fair and competitive fee.
A one-way ticket from Maritime Bus is $72.50.
There are also several Facebook pages and WhatsApp groups dedicated to daily filling cars with students traveling in both directions. Drivers often charge comparable or higher rates to the regulated shuttles, taxis, and bus service.
While at CBU, several students showed their phones to The Third and scrolled through the social media groups looking for drive shares and drivers.
We were told by students that in one of their classes, 12 of about 30 students were living in Halifax and at least some of them were returning that evening, around 7:30 p.m.
Three of the four CBU students in this photo live in Halifax.
The Third was told that this is the new norm for some attending CBU. No student wanted their names used as part of this story because they were concerned about the repercussions from both the university and from some fellow students.
Several students living in Halifax that we spoke with told us that they are spending hundreds of dollars a day commuting back and forth to attend classes. Many are concerned that their part-time jobs will not cover their tuition and fees because their transportation costs are so high.
One student who spoke on behalf of one group that The Third spoke with says that many students are trying their best but are facing many challenges upon their arrival at CBU.
“To begin with, are the means of transport and the cost that comes with it. Secondly, the weather is an unpredictable thing. You can't always expect to have good weather and to commute during the winters...During harsh winters things are going to get so hard and they might end up missing classes. I'm not only talking about winters there are other harsh weathers too. For example, heavy rains or storms can lead to flooding and this, in turn, will affect the transport system which will ultimately affect the students.”
The student said it isn’t only the time and the money, it’s the impact that driving 10 hours a day and going to class has on academic performance.
“What about missing important topics? Yeah, you can argue by saying that they can cover it up, they just have to refer to the books and contact the teacher in case they have any doubts. But my question is, would it be equivalent to being in class that day, where some extra points or examples are being said and being able to understand the topic in a much better way? These scores are important as they matter in their future careers.”
Repeatedly The Third was told that there are hundreds of students who experience similar situations but are afraid to speak up as their new environment is similar to the one that they ran from searching for a better one.