By Letter to the Editor on December 1, 2021.
I wrote a letter to the ULeth board of governors to address some of the issues I and others are facing, and I thought I’d share here.
Dear University of Lethbridge Board of Governors:
I really wanted this letter to be an angry, frustration-fuelled list of all the ways you have damaged the institution and students’ lives in the last few years. But honestly? I’m too tired to be angry anymore. And not the tired that a nap fixes.
I grew up in a “pull up your bootstraps” household. I have always worked multiple jobs, gone to school, cared for family, and done what I can to help my community. I was also a single mom.
I worked two minimum wage jobs, took loans, and went to school full-time when I first joined ULeth in 2015. Despite falling asleep in class more than once, and often studying hours before an exam instead of days, I got good grades. I loved it. For the first time in my life, I was somewhere I belonged. I fell in love with my university. I managed to do research and help improve the lives of students, for which I won awards. It went well. Until it didn’t.
Between serious personal problems, health problems, and burnout, I had to stop. I couldn’t keep going. I almost ended up homeless and thought I was going to starve to death for a while, but I survived. I’m not sure if the planets aligned or what, but I somehow managed to rebuild.
And as soon as I had the chance, my first priority was the University of Lethbridge and my degree. I even managed to accidentally land my dream job with enough of an income to cover my school costs. I thought things were finally going in the right direction until I discovered just how badly the situation at Uleth became while I was away.
My much-loved supervising prof and mentor, and the other prof I had relied on, basically had enough of the cuts and retired. And they’re not the only ones.
Now, I can’t continue to do the research that will get me into a Ph.D. program because there are no supervisors. There are no classes in my area of study for me to take. And I was waitlisted for the classes in my department that I need to finish.
This leaves me with three options:
â€¢ Take classes that have nothing to do with my degree just so I can finish.
â€¢ Find another school with a professor who is willing to take pity on me and move.
â€¢ Take the one or two classes per semester and hope we get a prof in my area of study willing to supervise my research. This could cost thousands in extra semesters.
I honestly don’t know which option to take. I’ve fought my whole life to be able to go back to school. I’ve had it taken from me multiple times. And now, you’re taking it from me. And you don’t even know me.
My loan costs and tuition are increasing at an absurd rate. I no longer have educational tax credits. I can’t get a supervisor. And now, I can’t get into courses I need to finish. This is the entire point of a university!
I pay. You educate. The worst part? What will be left after you roll out your cockamamied restructuring plan? We’ve all seen the results of your previous attempts. I’ve been here long enough to know who you screwed over.
It takes weeks to access services. The faculty that remains here are exhausted and stressed. And who can blame them, if my boss demanded that I repay wages because they weren’t making enough money? The sheer fact that we have any profs at all is a testament to their passion and love for education and their students.
I’m tired of fighting all these things beyond my control. I’m tired of dealing with the stupidity and consequences of YOUR decisions. You might even screw me out of my degree just as I approach convocation. But here’s the thing: I’m going to make noise. Why? I’m lucky. I’m a bitter, exhausted, 40 year old mother with grown children. I have nothing left to lose that I haven’t already lost and survived.
Many of these students, however, are not in that position. And unlike them, I don’t care if I offend you because I know what the consequences are if things do not change. That’s why I’m fighting.
Universities are not money-making opportunities or businesses. And we will not recover from the changes you’re making.
Stop the cuts.
Stop destroying this amazing institution. Stop choking the passion from the lives of the amazing faculty and students I have come to not only love but look up to and admire.
Start looking after your responsibilities, because I shouldn’t have to. But here I am. Again.
Protecting the students, the university, and an institution I have been blessed and honoured to make part of my identity.
Stop. The. Cuts.