Assembling Our Strength | Day [Limbo]

We all walked into Bitmaker Labs today with the expectation of continuing on with our program – business as usual. However, all of our instructors and team leaders came out to convey an extremely difficult message: due to the potential of a cease and desist, they would no longer be permitted to teach us what we came here to learn.  A potential outcome existed in which severe fines, and perhaps even imprisonment, awaited our instructors should they continue to teach us without being an accredited institution under the Ontario Ministry of Teaching, Colleges and Universities (MTCU). Given these circumstances, they halted all official teaching and the Bitmaker Labs office essentially became a co-working space for all of the students.

With the full force of the news hitting the students, leadership emerged in two very different forms. On the one hand, several students took up leadership positions to maintain morale and organized review sessions – amidst the chaos, they provided direction to the directionless and distraught. On the other hand, a small renegade group of well-connected students began to plot a social media blitzkrieg, as they wished to spread awareness about the issues at hand – I was one of those individuals. I laid out a plan of action, co-wrote a petition, spread the message to my Facebook friends, and began to plan out a social media strategy. Sword and Shield worked together perfectly to make the best of these unfortunate times.

The amount of support that I received on Facebook was more than expected – having friends in Southern Ontario’s tech scene never hurts. I gained significant traction and was planning on releasing the fruits of my labour earlier today. Fortunately, I have some extremely wise friends who advised me against such an immediate social media campaign – it would be counterproductive to our desired results. All that the students at Bitmaker Labs wish to have is the ability to continue on in their web development studies uninhibited by a ministry that is supposed to “help [us] get the education and training [we] need to build a rewarding career.” If we were to be too aggressive in our campaigning, we could have very well forced them to solidify their stance.

Consequently, rather than releasing my petition and launching my campaign, I emailed the head of the MCTU, Brad Duguid. I simply told him that I wanted his side of the story, so that we can work towards a solution that is amicable to all parties involved in this misunderstanding. If a reply is not received in a week, I will happily initiate my campaign and rally the full support of my extended network.

In an age where the tech sector is truly making headway, halting a program like Bitmaker Labs is a direct assault on the competitiveness of Ontarian tech startups. These startups are in desperate need of the specific skills that Bitmaker Labs is providing – I can only hope that the MTCU will see their error of judgment and allow us to continue in our studies. The international students from Europe and the United States, along with the Vancouverites and Montrealers here, are all suffering from this unexpected hitch in the program. What does the future hold? We will never know, but I remain confident in the strength of my friends and in the human capacity to recognize when faults are made.

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