Faculty and Students Continue to Disagree with the Administration Over the PPP and Proposed Cuts
By Róisín Lyder
Campus was abuzz with talk of the Program Prioritization Process the week of its release. Hundreds of campus community members packed themselves into Peter Clark Hall to listen to the administration deliver the results which included a proposed 25% cut to the College of Arts. Since then, talk has died down a little but certainly not disappeared. Professors, Sessionals, TAs and students continue to question and object to the proposed 32 million dollars in cuts.
In an analysis of the University’s audited financial statements from 2006 to 2012 released this week, the University of Guelph Faculty Association (UGFA) questioned whether the financial decisions of the Administration were serving the University’s mission. In their document they cite survey data that shows that “morale amongst UGFA members has deteriorated significantly,” and that “severe budget-driven initiatives” have helped to “create a climate that is distressing.” The report highlights growth in administration salary that far outstrips that of faculty salaries and questions this in light of the University’s official and principal missions of teaching and scholarship. Perhaps most importantly UGFA suggests that the $32 million dollar deficit claimed by the Administration is, in fact, “presently crystal ball gazing.” They conclude by suggesting that an approach in line with the mission of the University would be different than the one currently being pursued. The President of UGFA Ed Carter has previously stated that he is “very concerned about the budget cuts and what appears to be a created crisis”.
In addition to UGFA and in response to their report, individual professors have been speaking out. Professor Emeritus John McMurtry published a response to the PPP criticizing the fact that “all the cutting is on teaching, while student fees and debts multiply at the same time to pay for this unaccountable administrative spending.” President Alastair Summerlee responded claiming that UGFA’s priorities differed from those of the University administration. Professor Andrew Bailey, in reaction to the ranking of the undergraduate Philosophy program at the very bottom of the PPP wrote a letter to the President criticizing the results of the PPP and asserting that the philosophy department contributes “at a very high level and with a great deal of success” to the mission of the University, as likely most philosophy professors and students would agree.
And of course not all of our instructors are represented by UGFA. Sessionals and TAs are members of CUPE 3913, the past president of which recently asserted that “we don’t have to play the game of competition between departments, but need to question the fundamental direction of our university.”
Students have been expressing dissent from the beginning. The Central Student Association that represents all undergraduate University students has released statements critical of the PPP stating that it is “not an exercise… with the goal of increasing the quality of education in Guelph.” The Guelph Student Mobilization Committee, a student group that “campaigns against cuts that affect the quality and diversity of University programs,” has released a statement citing 10 reasons to drop the PPP and stop the cuts. The reasons include concerns about privatization, differentiation of the education system in Ontario, and declining diversity and quality at the University of Guelph.
While perhaps not everyone on campus is critical of the cuts, organizations representing basically all segments of the campus population have raised concerns about the PPP and the cuts. The administration will face increasing challenges in forcing these unpopular measures through.