Oakland University, in Michigan, canceled  its first day of classes Thursday after the faculty union’s decision to strike  because of a continuing contract dispute. Lizabeth Barclay, grievance officer for the local chapter  of the American Association of University Professors, said that in her more than two decades at Oakland she could not remember another time when the university canceled classes because of a labor dispute. Typically, she noted, only a small percentage of faculty members end up going on strike, and the university can continue on with classes. Indeed, late Wednesday night, as contract negotiations dragged without promise, Oakland issued an alert  to students, encouraging them to “remain prepared for classes during [the] work stoppage.” The decision to cancel classes, however, came at 10 a.m. Thursday, after a number were scheduled to begin on the campus. David Groves, an Oakland spokesman, declined comment on the change of plans and the contract talks. Barclay said that the university and the union have agreed to continue negotiating through the Labor Day weekend. This current dispute is not the first indication of discontent at Oakland. Last year, the administration locked its senior administrative offices to the public , and several faculty members said that secretaries would let them in only if they had appointments.