June 14th, 2024

Cutting costs not the way to keep U of L significant


By Lethbridge Herald on February 12, 2022.

Editor:

A letter to U of L president Dr. Mike Mahon:

I am a recent graduate of the University of Lethbridge, completing my Master of Arts last year, and convocating in October. Previously, I completed my Bachelor of Arts, also at the University of Lethbridge. I am writing to you not only as an alum of the university but as someone who is deeply and irrevocably tied to this institution, not only through my past experiences, but in the future, as my son plans on applying later this year or the start of next year, and my other children will possibly come here, and I will likely pursue my PhD at the U of L. 

My husband Kim and I first came to Lethbridge and the U of L in 1998 so he could attend the university in pursuance of his undergraduate degree; our oldest child was actually born on campus. The University of Lethbridge is my home and always will be. 

 I tell you this, not only to show my connection with this university but also to underline how important it is to me. The well-being, success, and excellence of this university is vitally important to me, personally. I care about what happens to the University and I care about those who are part of the university community. Both my undergraduate thesis and my graduate thesis addressed this quite implicitly.

So, I am writing you to express my deep disappointment with how the administration and the board are dealing with ULFA, and what that means for the university as a whole. 

What is being demanded of ULFA members, the concessions they are expected to make is harmful not only to them but to the entire university community. 

The university is not an entity separate from its community members (primarily students, staff, and faculty). Faculty are necessary for student success. And student success is necessary for the success of the university. Students who receive the excellent education that is available here reflect the university and I am certain you are aware of this. Supporting faculty and treating them properly is vital to the long-term well-being of the university. 

In fact, without the faculty and students there would be no university. I would also add that without staff to support students and staff, the university is in dire danger. I know that decades of cuts and elimination of public funding have brought us to this impasse. 

This is not the first time the university has been “forced” to cut positions and services, and courses (that’s a whole other issue that needs addressing) and so yes, I am aware that you, your administration, and the board feel they are between a rock and a hard place. 

Most, if not all post-secondary institutions in this province are at the mercy of a draconian provincial government that expects them to find a way to make these ongoing cuts work while continuing to keep the institutions relevant. 

However, this is my argument: yourself, along with your administration, and the board have a responsibility to the university, yes, to keep it not just running, but in the public eye as a significant establishment. The way to do this is not continuing with cuts and reductions, including refusing to give ULFA a decent contract. The board and the administration have the crucial responsibility to support faculty and students by representing and advocating for adequate funding and supports for them. Yes, I know you are silently thinking “we have no choice. The money just isn’t there. We can’t do more.” Except, there are options. Broad activism in the past has resulted in social change, and proper support for post-secondary NEEDS social change so that future students aren’t left in the cold with no options for their education; so that current students are left grappling with limited options. Supporting faculty is supporting students, and supporting students is supporting the university; again, they ARE the university.

What I would like to see is our administration, and our board, along with other post-secondary institutional boards and administrations, coming together and demanding that the provincial government step up and do what’s right – properly funding post-secondary education.

 They can find the money, and they will with the right pressure. If all of you, with the power to actually do something, come together and insist, it will force the government to reprioritize and support post-secondary education. Not just trades and easily recognizable disciplines, but all disciplines, including within the humanities and social sciences, as these are all important to society in broad and measurable ways. You can take pointers on activism from students who have engaged in this regularly over the years, and from other examples of activism that have resulted in lasting change we often take for granted now.  

It is possible to force the government to do this and you will get support not just from university community members, but from communities that recognize the necessity of properly funded post-secondary education. 

Neoliberalism is not supportable and hasn’t been for many decades now. Instead of fighting with your faculty, turn your focus to the real adversary, which is embodied in the government (and I don’t just mean our current one, but most provincial and federal governments for the last 40 plus years) and their insistence that public services take the hit. 

ULFA is not your enemy. Students are not your enemy. University staff is not your enemy. So please focus on the real barriers to providing the best research and education vital to this institution.

Mary Siever

Lethbridge

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Fedup Conservative

From what I gather this is not happening in other provinces. So while this phony conservative, Reformer, Jason Kenney slashes $9.4 billion off corporate taxes to benefit his rich friends he finds to smart to cut education and Health Care funding, raise tuition fees by 40% and put our Universities into this mess.
He tries to cut 11,000 health care jobs to force us into a privatized system, cut doctors, nurses, and teachers wages, tries to replace our police force by kicking out the RCMP with a much cheaper, poorly trained force that he can control and use against people who don’t support him and yet we still see some of our ignorant fellow seniors who are dumb enough to support him.

IMO

Thank you, Mary Siever, for framing your letter to Dr. Mahon around responsibility, activism and solidarity against an adversarial government(s).

TonyPargeter

Agreed with in spirit but that context you refer to in passing, that 40 odd years of conservative provincial governments, who are in charge of education? It’s the very heart of the matter.
Relatively recently, conservatives have done more than just meticulously and maliciously excise the WORD “progressive” from their name; they have also nurtured a rabid hatred of any and all things “progressive,” read humane and reasonable with an eye toward PROGRESS, as in maximum human flourishing. The truly evil algorithms of social media have honed that for years; I saw it develop when facebook started and was shocked then.
So blithely ignoring that now endemic fanaticism and anti-intellectualism, that utter perversity, makes no sense because the truth is that it simply cannot be appealed to OR lobbied. Recall the word “extreme.” That’s where we are. We’re all hanging on by our fingernails, gritting our teeth I think because as bad as the pandemic has been, this right wing insanity, casual, committed purveyor of “post-truth” that it is, has been even worse.

snoutspot4

Thank you Mary for your letter of support of our colleges and universities. Higher education is valuable, and it brings wealth to our community lives beyond the paycheques. The UCP government is breaking it, and I, for one, am very sad that we may lose something irreplaceable.

Last edited 2 years ago by snoutspot4
Fedup Conservative

It’s no secret that the major enemy of our beloved Conservatives were Reformers so it made no sense for the stupid Conservative Parties to allow them to join their parties and get control of them. It’s not surprising that they are deliberately trying to destroy everything the Conservatives stood for.

Nor is it surprising that these Right-wing Extremists would support the stupidity of Don Trump. Trying to claim Trudeau stole the last election just proves how stupid they are. Now we have these ignorant Canadians trying to copy the attack on the the Whitehouse and their comments prove how stupid they really are. I doubt they even know what the freedom they are fighting for is.

Former premier Don Getty told me in 2003 that inviting a Liberal Ralph Klein into the Conservative Party was the dumbest thing he had ever done, and I certainly agreed. Lougheed was furious with Getty. Look at the damage he created,and it’s no surprise that Reformers Danielle Smith and Jason Kenney thinks he was a hero. Forcing Albertans into a lot more privatization while they use our oil and tax wealth to use votes from their rich friends is all they care about.