Print Edition: February 4, 2015
Three years ago, the government of British Columbia decided to cut $50 million from post-secondary education. Every year since then, our university has struggled to find ways to absorb cuts to its operating grant. Some of these cuts have been absurd, like when the senior administration decided to shut down faculty reception, forcing students everywhere to shove papers and assignments under doors instead of leaving them in instructors’ mailboxes.
But the most recent cut is not simply absurd, it’s also immoral and flies in the face of the government’s own mandate. Jody Gordon, the vice president of students, has decided to cut a core educational service: the Writing Centre. At the end of the current fiscal year, on March 31, the Writing Centre will be no more. Instead, Ms. Gordon has decided to shut down the best writing centre in Canada and replace the very competent, professional staff — all of whom possess advanced degrees in writing or the teaching of writing — with undergraduates UFV can pay $15 / hour.
When I was a student at UFV, I objected to ever-increasing tuition hikes with no new services. We’re through the looking glass now: today’s students pay more and more in tuition and fees and receive less and less. Departments all throughout the university have seen retiring faculty not replaced, classes are being cut, and some programs are in jeopardy of being eliminated entirely to help balance the books. What does tuition buy at UFV? Fewer professors, fewer classes, almost certainly fewer programs, and the closing of the best writing centre in Canada.
Senior administrators at UFV, including the president, provost, and vice president of students, all make salaries approaching or above $200,000 per year. That’s more than the premier of the province! And since UFV has been mandated to balance its books, not one penny has been cut from senior administrative compensation. Students, alumni, and faculty all understand that you need good people to run an excellent university. But we’ve been paying large salaries to the senior administrators at UFV to protect and expand core educational services, not cut them.
Shutting down the best writing centre in the country is wrong, and it needs to be stopped. Students pay good money to receive an education, in the classical sense — to develop the character and skills they need to live good, flourishing lives. Learning to write well and think critically is a core part of this education and an essential life skill. The decision to shut down the Writing Centre directly undercuts this.
On page 20 of the government’s Budget and Fiscal Plan 2013 / 14 – 2014 / 15 document released in February of 2013, it’s written that “post-secondary sectors … were to engage in processes to find efficiencies and eliminate unnecessary administrative duplication through increased use of shared services,” and that “savings were to come from discretionary spending, administration and other efficiencies, while protecting educational services.” By shutting down the Writing Centre, Mark Evered, Jody Gordon, and all the senior administration at UFV are doing exactly the opposite of what the government has mandated.
It’s time to stand up for education, for UFV, and the best writing centre in Canada. That’s why I have decided to create the #SaveUFV petition. If you think that students deserve a good education and that UFV’s senior administration should abide by the government’s mandate, sign the petition – either go online to www.saveufv.ca or sign the petition on campus. I encourage UFV graduates to contact their alumni association, and members of the community who are concerned about the future of their university to write to the minister of finance and Abbotsford MLA Mike de Jong.
Finally, on Wednesday, February 25th at 11:30 a.m., I invite everyone who wants to save the Writing Centre to join me on the green in front of the library on the Abbotsford campus for the Rally to Save the Writing Centre. Together we’ll be able to take a stand for education and make sure that the senior administration stops making absurd, immoral, and illegal decisions to cut core educational services.
Let’s #SaveUFV and stand up for #writingUFV!