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Summerlee alludes to more budget cuts

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

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Written by CSA

This letter also appeared in the Ontarion

This week, in At Guelph, our president, Alastair Summerlee alluded to another year of budget cuts for the University.

Yet again, the government has not provided what it has promised. As Summerlee suggests, some tough decisions will have to be made in order to keep our collective head above water.

Unfortunately, it appears that our president is considering some disastrous ideas. Among his options to reduce costs: more cuts to departments and units, secondary rounds of early retirement, reviewing tuition and ancillary fees and freezing wages.

Why are these options so frightening?

First, departments and units were forced to cut 3.5% across the board last year, leaving them unstable and vulnerable. Second, early retirement packages have already gone out and the University is currently paying out $2 million this year to compensate them.

Third, due to the tuition freeze, Summerlee can’t increase tuition next year for most students. But there are exceptions. The three groups that CAN have tuition increased further are the executive MBA, masters in leadership and, you guessed it, international student fees (currently double the cost of domestic student fees).

Finally, the wage freeze. In a year when all major employee groups are going to the bargaining table, the suggestion of a wage freeze is enough to turn negotiations sour.

As a show of solidarity, the president and all of the vice-presidents won’t take a raise this year, leaving them stuck at $150,000 (each) for the upcoming year.

Last year when the cuts came down, President Summerlee promised to lobby the provincial government hard for more funding. This year, the University is even worse off financially.

The government needs to see what its under-funding is doing to our school. The University should take a stand, cut executive wages and run a deficit budget. Lobbying hasn’t worked, the government doesn’t get it. We need to show Queen’s Park that our university cannot take anymore cuts.


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