January 19th, 2022

U of L board needs to stop the cuts


By Letter to the Editor on December 1, 2021.

Editor:
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:
• Take classes that have nothing to do with my degree just so I can finish.
• Find another school with a professor who is willing to take pity on me and move.
• 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.
Angie Nikoleychuk
Lethbridge

Share this story:
<5
Subscribe
Notify of
7 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fedup Conservative

So why are you beating up on the University when it’s Jason Kenney who has forced them into it? He can’t be bothered to fund Education and Health Care properly but can cut $9.4 billion off corporate taxes for his rich friends.

Now he wants to kick out the RCMP , at a huge cost to taxpayers, and replace them with a useless , poorly trained much cheaper group, that he can control and use against anyone who doesn’t support him. Where is the intelligence in that?
Now watch his ignorant senior supporters attack me for being a lot smarter than them.

Southern Albertan

Alberta universities and colleges have faced significant cuts to funding courtesy of the Kenney UCP government’s “stay-the-course” budget. This is where the blame lies, in the big picture.
Smart governments do not scrimp on funding to education because they know, that it facilitates thriving economies.

Fedup Conservative

While Kenney cuts $9.4 billion off corporate taxes to benefit his rich friends he finds it smart to make our education system, doctors, nurses, teachers, university students and universities pay for his revenue cutting stupidity, now that he has learned that Albertans aren’t dumb enough to let him privatize our health care system.

This guy is a farce and his supporters are even dumber than he is. It isn’t hard to understand why true conservatives are calling them Traitors for not helping us get rid of him, is it? Or why lawyers are telling us to stop letting his supporter hurl their sarcastic comments at us, for not being as dumb as they are, and start taking them to court to put a stop to them, good advise don’t you think?

buckwheat

An instructive article. 1.4 % decrease equating to 72 million resulting in a 5.055 billion funding of advanced education. To quote Greta,
how dare they; be expected with all the high priced administrative help be expected to manage a budget and spending. Years of automatic increases, hit a wall and everyone is up in arms. Note the 750 jobs were mostly through attrition which still garnered a smart arse remark from the U OF C student union president.

https://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/0226-budget-postsec

AngNik

So… The UCP is absolutely, without a doubt, the root of these issues. They absolutely need to stop the cuts. There are more cuts planned and they’re already negatively affecting students to the point that some have had to find alternative arrangements in order to graduate.

However, it’s important to remember that the NDP was also looking for ways to cut and freeze. No matter who is in power, ULeth will need to adjust to a smaller budget. Hopefully nothing near what the UCP is proposing. This letter was sent to the UCP and MLA Neudorf and there is significant pressure being put on them. There’s more coming. To be effective, unis, students, faculties, staff, and the public need to make a concentrated, coordinated stand to end this.

It’s important to remember that students are affected by 4 levels of funding: Donations and investments, tuition, the internal distribution of money, and the government operating grant.

Things are already negatively affecting students. Cuts being proposed and implemented for the very near future will eliminate departments and faculty…in a situation where we already can’t register for courses.

There are plenty of other places the university can look for efficiencies. Places where multiple staff is doing essentially the same job unnecessarily. Courses doubled up between departments. Individuals in leadership positions with wages higher than that of those in equivalent positions at places like the UofT and McGill (research-based and far larger than ULeth). Positions such as Vice Presidents of Something that maybe don’t need those salaries. All of these things only save small amounts, but they add up.

There’s also the question of their marketing. Things like offering a business integration hub that could match research to businesses or innovation networks, student service and faculty hubs that could help attract more students (enrollment is already down 2.8% for September because who would want to enroll knowing your program might be gone next year?) and help researchers get more interest and higher grant application success rates. There’s also other ways to attract donations and investments the university can consider.

Going ahead with draconian cuts we already know harm institutions is a stupid approach. ULeth isn’t going to recover from the proposed changes coming down the line.

What is currently happening is the equivalent of advertising a truck and you discover its missing tires and the tow package you paid for. Oh, and by the way, it’s going to cost you 22% more than agreed.

AngNik

Wanted to add… I am not in any way trying to position the BOG as enemies here. What I am trying to do is get them to understand how these things are affecting students…not just faculty. And maybe we have some other options.

Fedup Conservative

You don’t need to be a genius to understand that if these phoney conservatives starting with Ralph Klein had continued to carry on where Lougheed and Getty had left off collecting proper royalties and taxes at the Lougheed levels we would have hundreds of billions of dollars in our Heritage Trust Fund , like Norway and Alaska are doing. Look at the financial mess these fools and their ignorant supporters have put our children and grandchildren in. You can’t cut $9.4 billion off corporate taxes and expect the results to be good for all Albertans, while you spread the lie that we don’t have a revenue problem, only a spending problem and trick these ignorant Albertans into believing it is true.

It was retired lawyers and RCMP officers who called it, over coffee, the worse case of fraud the world has ever seen. Phoney Conservative Politicians helping their rich friends steal the people’s wealth, and it was done legally because the stupid Albertans kept giving them a majority in elections and telling them it was okay to do it, and those of us who tried to stop it got called all sorts of names, by ignorant seniors who should have known better.

The fact is they helped their rich friends screw Albertans out of hundreds of billions of revenue and the same fools who allowed it to happen are many of the same fools who are defending Liberal Jason Kenney and hurling their sarcastic comments at those of us who aren’t as dumb as them.

I will never forget how upset Klein’s father Phil and daughter Angie were with Ralph and his ignorant supporters. They knew what he was doing to us was creating a disaster. Too bad his supporters weren’t that smart.



7
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x