Tuesday February 2nd 2015
To the students at the Drop Tuition Fees meeting,
It is a pleasure to be addressing you at this important meeting. I am unable to attend today, but hope that my words of solidarity will be received as support for your cause.
First of all, thank you for taking the time to participate in this democratic process. As the union representing all Tenure Track, Tenured and Teaching Faculty, I can truly appreciate the importance of organizing, and standing up for a better UOIT.
I also want to commend you for articulating your demands and remind you that professors at this University are behind you. While tuition fees have gotten out of control, we sometimes forget to imagine a world where it is recognized that education is a right, a world where students are free to pursue their academic dreams, regardless of socio-economic background.
A recent poll conducted by OCUFA (the Ontario Council of University Faculty Associations), of which the UOITFA is a member, found that ¾ of Ontario residents believe that University education should be considered a high priority; 7/10 south-western Ontarians believe that, to fulfill their mandate, Universities must combine research and teaching.
This brings me to a disturbing trend facing our universities. They are being run as businesses. Progress is being tracked much like productivity on factory lines, and success is calculated based on numbers like enrolment, grades, and graduates.
As enrolment increases, the result is higher and higher student: faculty ratios, and universities suffer from administrative bloat. A great example of this is McMaster University, where they saw a 60% increase in enrolment within eight years. While you might have expected to see a similar increase in faculty, the actual increase in faculty members was 30%, but the administration was allowed to balloon by 80%!
A more “efficient” university model, under a neoliberal agenda, means more income-generating students, less professors, and higher salaries for the newly expanded managerial strata. The exploitation of contract lecturers, those employed to teach a course here and there, is the new norm.
It is important in this setting that we understand that our working conditions are your learning conditions. However, as the biggest stakeholder at UOIT, your actions have the potential to speak louder than any other campus organization.
Working together, students can challenge the current shift in education and demand fully accessible education. Go forward towards a tuition free university education! No more student debt!