Watt to Summerlee: "administration too quick to cut jobs & raise tuition"

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

  • Summerlee


Written by Jenn Watt

Dear Alastair,

Thank-you for your response to our alternative budget proposal. For the record, there are a few clarifications I would like to make. While the CSA certainly understands what financial strains the University is facing, our budget was designed to create dialogue around options that exist, but are not treated as feasible. The CSA also feels that it should be stressed that our budget is one of a political nature and is not designed to either be a long-term solution or to balance the books.

We agree that the biggest problem faced is a base-budget issue. The provincial and federal governments have been tardy and difficult with their promises to fund postsecondary education and we, along with the Canadian Federation of Students, have been petitioning them to be both more trustworthy and forthcoming with funds. For your information, I have enclosed our letter to Liz Sandals regarding funding shortfalls. Click here for that letter

The CSA's idea of incurring a deficit to stop the cuts is certainly not sustainable. We agree whole-heartedly with you on this point. What I'd like to clarify here is that this deficit would be one-time if the government was lobbied well.

You have stated many times that staff at this university are very important to you and that those who make the most minimal wages are those that hold our community together (quite literally in some cases, like physical resources staff). Taking this sentiment, we felt that the University could not withstand any cuts to these people.

Likewise, we are also familiar with your feelings toward international students. The president of the International Student Organization told us about your ideas to stabilize international student tuition over the four years of their studies. Agreeing with this statement, we felt that increasing international student tuition in the midst of some students' degrees would counter both your feelings around tuition and the Accessibility Taskforces' findings that unstable fees are very difficult for international students.

In your response to our budget, you stated, "if the University waited for the provincial budget the University takes the serious risk of being faced with major cuts in the middle of a fiscal year and during semester start-up." While I agree that this is an uncomfortable position to be in, it seems that the possibility of saving highly-valued workers jobs would be of greater importance. Fiscally, it would make more sense to wait until the correct numbers have arrived as well. It just does not seem right to cut without knowing precisely why we're cutting.

The CSA's alternative budget was made to address these concerns. We feel that the administration has been too quick to cut jobs and raise student tuition. This action does not reflect a university that is at the breaking point. What we were trying to convey was that there are other ways to address underfunding. One method is to take a stand, run a deficit, show the government that you need the money. The reason our budget came to the same deficit as yours was simply to prove that it would not sink the University to try this once: it would amount to the same outcome.

I hope that these clarifications help in your decision making process.

Jenn Watt
CSA Academics Commissioner

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