GSMC Questionnaire for CSA Candidates – The Results Are In

All CSA candidates were given five questions to answer on accessibility of education, building the student movement, budget cuts, the elimination of programs and the corporatization of research.

The responses were then analyzed by the GSMC and “graded” based on the Basis of Unity of the GSMC.  Please see below for the full answers from candidates and judge how you think they did!

The grading of the candidates are the views of the GSMC alone and are not associated with the CSA or the CSA elections office.

Candidates appear alphabetically by position and by last name.

Summary Graphic:

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GRADING AND CANDIDATE RESPONSES:

Academic & University Affairs Commissioner

PETER MILLER

Overall Grade: A+ 

  • Strong commitment to free, accessible, public education. 
  • Strong commitment to coalition building for increased public funding of Post-Secondary Education. 
  • Strong commitment to quality education. 
  • Strong commitment to diverse and comprehensive education. 
  • Strong commitment to academic freedom and research for public interest.

1.  Over 25 countries in the world have nominal or no fees for post-secondary education. This includes industrialized countries such as Germany, France, Norway and Ireland and less developed countries such as Argentina, Barbados, Cuba, and Kenya. Is a fully public and free post-secondary education system something that Ontario and Canada should be working towards in your opinion?  Why, or why not?

A fully public and free post-secondary education system is definitely something that Ontario and Canada should be working towards. Education is free for primary school and secondary school and it should also be free and fully public for post-secondary education. Tuition fees are the largest barrier to education for students and disproportionately affect students who cannot afford tuition fees up front. Students who are forced to go into debt because they need loans to attend university or college education end up paying more for their education than students from higher-income families who are more likely to be able to afford tuition fees up front. This is because students taking out loans must pay their loans back and also pay back accumulated interest.

Fully public, free education must be paid for from government revenue and a progressive tax system. Ontario has some of the lowest corporate tax rates in North America and increasing these rates would help increase funding for important social programs like education.

Accessible education is essential to creating a society that is a lot more equitable. The federal government should work with every province in Canada to ensure post-secondary education is a right.

Strong commitment to free, accessible, public education.

2.  How would you engage with students, administration, government and the public to work towards a more accessible and affordable education system?

I will engage with students by working with GSMC and the CSA to include as many students as possible in organizing on campaigns for more accessible and affordable education. I will strongly encourage working towards action days demanding a freeze, reduction, and elimination of tuition fees that will provide an opportunity for students to get involved.

I plan to work with the public by making sure campaigns for more accessible and affordable education are open and accessible to participation from the public. Education is an important issue for everyone. One plan I have is to outreach to students at high schools across the city. Many high school students are being shut out of university because of tuition fees and are members of the public we can engage in campaigns for accessible education.

The way to get administration and the government to work towards more accessible and affordable education is from movements and campaigns that put pressure on them to make affordable education a priority. I plan to go to Board of Governors meetings to demand that education must be accessible and affordable. Presenting petition signatures or letter signing and escalating tactics can be a good way to demand affordable education.

Strong commitment to coalition building for increased public funding of Post-Secondary Education.

3.  The UofG administration has proposed that colleges make huge cuts over the next three years.  This includes proposed cuts of 25% to Arts, 18% to Management and Economics and 15% to the Humanities and Social Sciences.  If enacted, how do you think the proposed cuts would affect the quality of education at Guelph for future students?

If enacted, these cuts will do great harm to the quality of education at Guelph for future students. The cuts will result in larger class sizes, more online classes, lay offs of faculty and sessional lecturers on campus, and have the potential to cut entire programs. As a result, students will have less opportunity to engage with their peers in smaller classes, less choice in degrees they can major in and courses they can take, and less opportunity to get to know their teachers. The result of the cuts will be an educational experience that is less complete, especially for students in the College of Arts and the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences.

The administration is also looking to increase the amount of teaching that professors will need to undertake. With cuts, administration will also be looking to cut benefits for workers on campus and cut important services. Working conditions for faculty, sessional lecturers, teaching assistants, and all staff on campus are connected with our learning conditions. If working conditions are attacked on campus our learning conditions are also attacked by administration. Students must work together with workers on campus to oppose these cuts to our public education!

Strong commitment to quality education.

4.  Through the framework of the “Program Prioritization Process”, smaller programs that have been chronically underfunded are facing elimination and restructuring.  Do you think they should they be maintained to keep our standing as a top comprehensive University?  If so, why? If no, why? 

Smaller programs should be maintained to keep our standing as a top comprehensive university. These programs are essential to making sure our university offers diverse programing. Through the “Program Prioritization Process” administration has ranked programs to help decide where to implement massive cuts. University Administration is now saying that they are implementing these cuts to “differentiate” this university from other universities and focus on specific programs. “Differentiation” is an excuse by the university to cut art and social science programs that do not bring is as much revenue as other programs.

UofG is taking the lead in “differentiation” of universities in Ontario. The call for “differentiation” was released in a leaked document from the provincial government. It’s important for students to stop UofG from leading the “differentiation” process, stop the cuts, and call for a one tier, comprehensive, public post-secondary education system.

Instead of universities in Ontario moving down the road of “differentiation” (that also means privatization) of education, students and the public must call for comprehensive, fully public universities. From grass roots mobilization we can pressure government to make education a priority and increase public funding so cuts are not made to our comprehensive universities in Ontario.

Strong commitment to diverse and comprehensive education.

5.  Do you have concerns with the corporate funding of research? If so, why? If no, why?

GSMC calls for “democratic and broad curriculum, free from corporate control” and I am in full agreement with this point. Universities should be a social good that benefits the public, and not at all a private good, that benefits the profits of large corporations. Corporate control of our university can be seen on the University of Guelph Board of Governors that has a majority of representation from people high up in corporations. As a result, the highest decision-making body at our university is filled with people who wish to make this university work for corporate interests.

We are also seeing more and more corporate control of research through corporate funding. At the University of Guelph, examples of how corporate funding increases corporate control on campus include the Kinross Gold Chair of Environmental Governance and the Better Planet Project, a large capital campaign to raise 200 million dollars of private funding for the university. This private funding comes with strings attached. Instead of increasing corporate control, universities must be democratically controlled by students and workers on campus along with the public whose interests are to make education accessible and a social good.

Strong commitment to academic freedom and research for public interest.

Kimmi Snider

Overall Grade: F

Did not submit answers to questionnaire.

 

Communications & Corporate Affairs Commissioner

Matt Brown

Overall Grade: F

Did not submit answers to questionnaire.

Sonia Chwalek

Overall Grade: A+ 

  • Strong commitment to free, accessible, public education. 
  • Strong commitment to coalition building for increased public funding of Post-Secondary Education. 
  • Strong commitment to quality education. 
  • Strong commitment to diverse and comprehensive education. 
  • Strong commitment to academic freedom and research for public interest.

1.  Over 25 countries in the world have nominal or no fees for post-secondary education. This includes industrialized countries such as Germany, France, Norway and Ireland and less developed countries such as Argentina, Barbados, Cuba, and Kenya. Is a fully public and free post-secondary education system something that Ontario and Canada should be working towards in your opinion?  Why, or why not?

Yes, I believe strongly in a fully public post-secondary education system. With Ontario students facing the highest tuition fees in the country, stopping the increasing cost of education must be our first step in order to see that individuals are not being shut out of post-secondary education. Post-secondary education is a public institution, yet we are seeing government funding account for less than 50% of university budgets. Student are presently the most indebt generation in history, and at a time when unemployment rates are soaring, more than ever, it is important to revaluate how our provincial and federal government views and supports the educational systems that so greatly affect us all. Budgets are about priorities and education is arguably the best investment our provincial government can make for the future and society. Investment in education is integral for enriching society and reducing social and economic inequity. The countries listed above are proof that a free post-secondary education system is not only logistically and economically possible, but also extremely beneficial to all facets of society – it is simply a matter of priority.

Strong commitment to free, accessible, public education.

2.  How would you engage with students, administration, government and the public to work towards a more accessible and affordable education system? 

I believe that working together is the best way to address the challenges we face. Communicating with faculty, students and staff is essential in preventing program cuts and underfunding. Coalition work is central to strengthening lobbying and campaign efforts to challenge the larger systemic issues preventing educational institutions from being accessible and of high quality.  Through my experiences as the CSA Associate Commissioner of Campaigns & Outreach, I recognize the importance of research, lobbying, and opportunities for students to engage to stop tuition fees increases. It is essential that none of these areas be neglected to have our provincial and federal governments make education a priority through an increase in funding to postsecondary education. As Communications and Corporate Affairs Commissioner, I will work closely with the other commissioners, particularly the External Affairs Commissioner, to support such campaigns through strong communications. I believe the CSA has an integral role providing students with opportunities to engage in the issues we care about, while also ensuring that all parties –administration, government and the public alike – recognize this as more than a student issue.

Strong commitment to coalition building for increased public funding of Post-Secondary Education.

3.  The UofG administration has proposed that colleges make huge cuts over the next three years.  This includes proposed cuts of 25% to Arts, 18% to Management and Economics and 15% to the Humanities and Social Sciences.  If enacted, how do you think the proposed cuts would affect the quality of education at Guelph for future students?

Less funding leads to decreased quality of education and in the case of the $32.4 million worth of cuts at Guelph, a disproportionate cut to some areas of study over others. Budget cuts at a university are a product of chronic underfunding from the provincial government and a lack of prioritizing at the institutional level. Ontario having the lowest per student government funding in Canada has not only led to tuition fees increasing more than inflation, but is now also impacting the very programs and services that students require and pay high tuition fees for. Ontario students are already experiencing the highest student to faculty ratio, some of the largest class sizes in the country, and pay some of the highest ancillary fees (some of which are illegal) on top of tuition fees. Moreover, budget cuts in the past have led to programs being underfunded at Guelph to the extent that students have switched out of them due to decreasing quality. This leads to areas of study appearing less popular or smaller programs receiving less support. We need to protect our programs to support diversity in education to keep the University of Guelph one of Canada’s top comprehensive universities.

Strong commitment to quality education.

4.  Through the framework of the “Program Prioritization Process”, smaller programs that have been chronically underfunded are facing elimination and restructuring.  Do you think they should they be maintained to keep our standing as a top comprehensive University?  If so, why? If no, why? 

It is essential that such smaller programs are supported and protected to ensure the comprehensiveness that the University of Guelph so prides itself on. These programs are also vital in providing students with flexibility to change majors, specialize in different fields of study, and enhance their learning experiences by taking a diversity of courses outside of their main academic focuses. Program cuts affect all aspects of the university, and by not defending smaller programs facing critique by the ‘Program Prioritization Process’, we set a dangerous precedent on how the issues of chronic underfunding should be dealt with – one which is unsustainable and detrimental to student, faculty and staff experience.

Strong commitment to diverse and comprehensive education.

5.  Do you have concerns with the corporate funding of research? If so, why? If no, why?

Post-secondary education is a public institution, yet we are seeing tuition fees increase for students and funding coming from the private/corporate sector to make up for government funding shortfalls. We have also seen capital campaigns be prioritized to facilitate private funding to our institution. When it comes to research, private funding and the private interests tied to it put at risk academic freedom and the public good nature of research. With unemployment levels being so high it is concerning that companies are provided with the opportunity to fund research at universities instead of creating jobs in the research and development sector for graduates.

Strong commitment to academic freedom and research for public interest.

River Roy

Overall Grade: F

Did not submit answers to questionnaire.

External Affairs

Sonali Menezes

Overall grade: A 

  • Strong commitment to free, accessible, public education. 
  • Strong commitment to coalition building for increased public funding of Post-Secondary Education. 
  • Strong commitment to quality education. 
  • Strong commitment to diverse and comprehensive education. 
  • Some commitment to academic freedom and research for public interest.

1.  Over 25 countries in the world have nominal or no fees for post-secondary education. This includes industrialized countries such as Germany, France, Norway and Ireland and less developed countries such as Argentina, Barbados, Cuba, and Kenya. Is a fully public and free post-secondary education system something that Ontario and Canada should be working towards in your opinion?  Why, or why not?

The short answer is yes because education is a right and tuition should not be a barrier. However, I believe that we need to start somewhere and that begins with stopping tuition hikes which increase every year. High tuition fees are making it more and more difficult for students to access education with the average student graduating after a 4 year degree with over $37,000 worth of debt. That’s $37,000 too much.  We know that tuition can be subsidized by the government through alternative funding sources and at the end of the day budgets are about priorities and a public post-secondary education should be one of them.

Strong commitment to free, accessible, public education.

2.  How would you engage with students, administration, government and the public to work towards a more accessible and affordable education system?

I would firstly engage students through a strong CSA campaign against rising tuition fees. This would include outreach through social media, events and rallies which will be organized by students. Through my experience in outreach I find the most effective way to engage students and the public is through face to face which proves incredibly successful, engaging and impactful. Holding open, accessible public events as well as attending community events is important in promoting students interests. I will also work closely with other groups on campus in collaboration because together we are stronger. Engaging administration means ensuring that student interests are accurately represented in decision-making processes during meetings and at public forums. This includes providing documents and presentations to the board of governors during the University budgeting process. Students need to lobby the government and I will join students across the province and country to meet with MPs and MPPs to advocate for quality, accessible education.

Strong commitment to coalition building for increased public funding of Post-Secondary Education.

3.  The UofG administration has proposed that colleges make huge cuts over the next three years.  This includes proposed cuts of 25% to Arts, 18% to Management and Economics and 15% to the Humanities and Social Sciences.  If enacted, how do you think the proposed cuts would affect the quality of education at Guelph for future students?

These proposed cuts are problematic. They will negatively impact the quality of education for students which hurts both Guelph’s reputation as a comprehensive university as well as students who experience tuition fee increases each year at the same time cuts are made to programming. As GSMC says, Pay More, Get Less – we are paying more for our education yet receiving less in programming.  Students base their decision to attend the University of Guelph on its positive academic reputation and foreseeing programming cuts which decrees the quality of education will deter students from attending Guelph. This then creates programs with lower enrollment rates thus decreasing program profitability leading to more cuts. This leads to a downward spiral negatively affecting the quality of education which then negatively impacts future students whose programs will see lower quality programs and perpetual cuts through this system.

Strong commitment to quality education

4.  Through the framework of the “Program Prioritization Process”, smaller programs that have been chronically underfunded are facing elimination and restructuring.  Do you think they should they be maintained to keep our standing as a top comprehensive University?  If so, why? If no, why?

These programs need to be maintained.  Keeping the University of Guelph one of Canada’s most comprehensive Universities will be my priority. The PPP process has prioritized certain programs over others, hurting the diversity of education at Guelph. As a studio art major, I decided to attend Guelph for its reputation as a comprehensive university, a life altering decision I share with many other students. Eliminating and restructuring smaller programs at Guelph will only hurt the University and our education.

Strong commitment to diverse and comprehensive education.

5.  Do you have concerns with the corporate funding of research? If so, why? If no, why?

Corporate funding of research gets tricky. Corporate funding adds corporate interest to research creating bias based on how the results of specific research might affect the corporation.  I think relating directly to the students as we pay more and more in tuition we are also seeing private interests at our university increase again hurting our public institution.

Some commitment to academic freedom and research for public interest.

 

Human Resources & Operations Commissioner

David Alton

Overall Grade: F

Did not submit answers to questionnaire.

Colin Morris

Overall Grade: F

Did not submit answers to questionnaire.

 

Local Affairs

Luna Shen

Overall Grade: F

Did not submit answers to questionnaire.

Brittany Skelton

Overall Grade: B+

  • Strong commitment to free, accessible, public education. 
  • Some commitment to coalition building for increased public funding of Post-Secondary Education. 
  • Strong commitment to quality education. 
  • Strong commitment to diverse and comprehensive education. 
  • Some commitment to academic freedom and research for public interest.

1.  Over 25 countries in the world have nominal or no fees for post-secondary education. This includes industrialized countries such as Germany, France, Norway and Ireland and less developed countries such as Argentina, Barbados, Cuba, and Kenya. Is a fully public and free post-secondary education system something that Ontario and Canada should be working towards in your opinion?  Why, or why not?

I think that having a fully funded post-secondary system is absolutely something that politicians at both the provincial and federal level should be working towards. Having an education system which produces generations of graduates with levels of high debt will do nothing to further improve our economy, it can only continue to negatively impact it. Education is a right and no one should be denied the chance to study based on financial circumstances.

Strong commitment to free, accessible, public education.

2.  How would you engage with students, administration, government and the public to work towards a more accessible and affordable education system?

I think that in order to effectively engage with people you have to meet them where they are.  I would work to engage students on these issues by asking them what their concerns are with the education system, enlisting them for their potential ideas and solutions. If elected I would work alongside both the External Affairs commissioner and the Academic Affairs commissioner whose portfolios cover these issues and facilitate the CSA’s campaign on tuition fees and quality of education. I would work with them to engage with the other actors involved, be that administration, government, and the public. I will support them in lobbying administration and the government for a quality, public education system. 

Some commitment to coalition building for increased public funding of Post-Secondary Education 

3.  The UofG administration has proposed that colleges make huge cuts over the next three years.  This includes proposed cuts of 25% to Arts, 18% to Management and Economics and 15% to the Humanities and Social Sciences.  If enacted, how do you think the proposed cuts would affect the quality of education at Guelph for future students?

The proposed cuts are not being designed to benefit students, they are being enacted to prevent financial strain on the university.  The quality of education at Guelph will be impacted because programs with already maxed budgets are being told to cut back, so there is little room for improvement on anything. There is the opportunity for a strengthened staff and student community as both have already been vocal about their unhappiness and even anger with the cuts. It has been argued that in the long run perhaps there is room for innovative solutions, but it would be better for everyone to focus on what is important here- the quality of education- over what if situations.

Strong commitment to quality education.

4.  Through the framework of the “Program Prioritization Process”, smaller programs that have been chronically underfunded are facing elimination and restructuring.  Do you think they should they be maintained to keep our standing as a top comprehensive University?  If so, why? If no, why?

I think that it is unfair for these programs to be forced to be potentially eliminated and restructured when the university in the first place did not give them the resources to excel.  In order to be an effective comprehensive university a diversity of programming is important, so eliminating what has set us apart does not seem like this will benefit students in the long run.

Strong commitment to diverse and comprehensive education.

5.  Do you have concerns with the corporate funding of research? If so, why? If no, why?

I think that the university should be doing more to engage public funding over corporate for research. I think that although it is great for students to be given projects in class that are partnered with corporations, that in reality they should be getting paid for their work instead of corporations being able to save money off of them. If the funding is coming from the public it will also allow for the public to set the agenda on what should be researched as opposed to corporations directing funding for only their private benefit.

Some commitment to academic freedom and research for public interest.

Caitlin Drew Zeran

Overall Grade: B

  • Strong commitment to free, accessible, public education. 
  • Some commitment to coalition building for increased public funding of Post-Secondary Education. 
  • Strong commitment to quality education. 
  • Some commitment to diverse and comprehensive education. 
  • Some commitment to academic freedom and research for public interest.

1.  Over 25 countries in the world have nominal or no fees for post-secondary education. This includes industrialized countries such as Germany, France, Norway and Ireland and less developed countries such as Argentina, Barbados, Cuba, and Kenya. Is a fully public and free post-secondary education system something that Ontario and Canada should be working towards in your opinion?  Why, or why not?

Yes, we should absolutely be working towards a free post-secondary education system in Ontario and Canada. It has become a common expression that a “Bachelor’s Degree is equivalent to a high school diploma”, and it would seem that this is accurate as more and more people feel the need to pursue Graduate programs. So, if that’s the case, post-secondary education should be an opportunity made available to everyone.

Strong commitment to free, accessible, public education.

2.  How would you engage with students, administration, government and the public to work towards a more accessible and affordable education system? 

I would concentrate first on educating and instilling passion in students. Changes need to be made from the ground up and we, as students, are the base on which alterations to the education system in Canada need to be made. I am also of the opinion that there is strength in numbers, so I would attempt to get students actively involved in advocating for change as opposed to standing on the sidelines.

Some commitment to coalition building for increased public funding of Post-Secondary Education.

3.  The UofG administration has proposed that colleges make huge cuts over the next three years.  This includes proposed cuts of 25% to Arts, 18% to Management and Economics and 15% to the Humanities and Social Sciences.  If enacted, how do you think the proposed cuts would affect the quality of education at Guelph for future students?

Cuts this significant would be catastrophic for several reasons. By cutting funding to these programs specifically, a statement is being made that non-science programs are less important or are less viable as preparation for a future career. I foresee enrollment at the university dropping drastically and the morale of those enrolled in the Arts, Management and Economics, or the Humanities and Social Sciences diminishing.

Strong commitment to quality education.

4.  Through the framework of the “Program Prioritization Process”, smaller programs that have been chronically underfunded are facing elimination and restructuring.  Do you think they should they be maintained to keep our standing as a top comprehensive University?  If so, why? If no, why?

This is a tricky question to answer. If these smaller programs have low enrollment, then I can see why eliminating or restructuring them might make fiscal sense. However, if the University of Guelph wishes to continue to attract such a wonderfully diverse array of students, then these programs need to be made a possibility for future applicants. If there is a demand for these programs, then I would argue that funding needs to be allocated to improving and promoting these smaller programs.

Some commitment to diverse and comprehensive education.

5.  Do you have concerns with the corporate funding of research? If so, why? If no, why?

An issue that accompanies the corporate funding of research is that some expectation or motive on the part of the contributor is likely to present itself. As a result, the outcome of the research may be biased in order to satisfy the demands of those financing the project. Research is extremely important and, in order for findings to be truly useful, integrity must be maintained at all times.

Some commitment to academic freedom and research for public interest.

For feedback on this “report card” please email student.mobilization@gmail.com