Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Self-Sufficiency and the Status Quo

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I sent this to the Telegraph Journal but thay haven't published it yet. Given today is the day for Graham's Throne speech, and his government's attitude toward UNBSJ, I thought I'd get it off my chest.

*Note: an edited version of this letter has since been published in the Tuesday, December 4th, edition of the Telegraph Journal, page A4.

I understand that the PSE Commission’s Report is just a report, and that while it has been received by the government, that does not mean that it has become government policy.

That said, please forgive me for being less-than-enthusiastic when Minister Doherty ‘appreciates’ all our hard work to defend the rights of southern New Brunswickers to have access to a university education, and even graces us with his assurance that there will remain a “university presence” in Saint John. (I can name my cat, “Dog” and invite you to my house to see a Dog, but it will still be a cat nonetheless.)

I am perplexed however at the continuous battle cry that “the status quo is not an option.” Apparently it is obvious to many that we can’t do things the same way.

Here’s what we were doing at UNBSJ, at least until this over-priced and ill-conceived report came in.

We were giving students an excellent education that was leading many of them to successful employment in a shifting economy. We were leading the charge on internationalizing our campus, thereby contributing to immigration and global diversity in southern New Brunswick. We were actively engaged in research that was useful to industry, the government, non-governmental organizations, and to academics. We, both faculty and students, were participating in community events, sharing our skills and interests throughout the region. We were leading the charge for transfer credits across similar institutions (both national and international) and between institutions of different types (e.g., combined university and college programs). We were efficient, because this was all done on a shoestring budget.

If my understanding of the self-sufficiency agenda is correct, isn’t what we were doing exactly what we should be doing? Perhaps what the government should realize is that UNBSJ’s status quo is exactly the option we want.

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