MayDay Rally - University of Saskatchewan - May 1st 2014
(News and useful links found at bottom of description)
Read the inspiring MayDay Rally speeches! #1 by Howard Woodhouse
I’ve come here today with several questions:
What is a University?
What are some of the defining characteristics of a public university like the U of S?
Shouldn’t a university provide universal, or rather inclusive, forms of understanding to those who come to learn?
Hence, a place where there is a balanced relationship between teaching, learning, scholarship, and research?
Certainly, these have until recently been defining characteristics of public universities.
So, in light of these, let us imagine a family from Saskatchewan who wish to send their daughter to the U of S.
There are two immediate questions they have to ask: first, can we afford to send our daughter to the U of S; second, how much choice will she have in her undergraduate programs?
To the first question, the family will soon learn that Saskatchewan universities have the second highest fees in the country, according to Stats Canada.
To the second question, the daughter will soon learn that among the programs under threat by TransformUS are those in languages, mathematics, philosophy, religion and culture, art, music, and drama.
In other words, a liberal arts education may well be expunged together with the critical thought which it develops.
As a result, the sons and daughters of the people of Saskatchewan who pay for the U of S are being robbed of a pillar of university education.
And what, one might ask do senior administrators have to say about this state of affairs?
Bearing in mind that their numbers have increased by more than 100% since the year 2000 and that their salaries amount to $4.74 million?
In December, the president offered some encouragement by stating that “the university missions are teaching and learning and discovery, and any dollar spent on administration is a dollar that isn’t going to the core missions” (SP, 10 December 2013, p.A2).
This is a frank admission that senior administrators do not carry out any of the core functions of the U of S.
However, at the GAA last month the president stated that she did not know what educational quality means and was mistrustful of its use.
This is another frank admission, one that reveals either an ignorance of pedagogical practice or a dismissal of its importance.
Considerable research shows that educational quality requires classes small enough that dialogue can take place among faculty and students, enabling critical thought in which all knowledge claims can be questioned.
But, of course, the practice of questioning knowledge claims by faculty and students has its dangers for those in power.
When questioned by a student at the same meeting, the president ruled out not only a debate about TransformUS but also any further discussion of the alleged deficit in the university budget.
Is this a trend we can expect from senior administrators, namely the abandonment of reason in the one place in society where one should expect rationality to be sovereign?
Today’s rally demonstrates that some of us – students, faculty, staff, alumni, members of the public – are aware of the need to defend the core values of the university before they are frittered away for a few pieces of gold.
Some News Articles and videos a regarding the Rally and issues that lead to it:
Rally held opposing TransformUS plan of action (Video and Article on Global News):
As rally takes place on campus, NDP raises concerns about University of Saskatchewan's overhaul plan (Video on The StarPhoenix)
U of S should face elephant in room (The StarPhoenix): www.thestarphoenix.com/should+face+elephant+room/9794892/...
U of S upheaval unwarranted (The StarPhoenix): www.thestarphoenix.com/upheaval+unwarranted/9799333/story...
Campus May Day rally protests looming cuts (The StarPhoenix):
TransformUS plan to cut $25.3M from University of Saskatchewan spending (The StarPhoenix): www.thestarphoenix.com/news/saskatoon/TransformUS+plan+mi...
Campus rally pans U of S cuts(CKOM):
Free Academia at USask:
U of S cost-cutting a ‘disaster,’ Killam Prize winner says (The StarPhoenix):
U of S distanced from noble ideal (The StarPhoenix):
University of Saskatchewan Faculty Association VOX (USFA):