The following open letter was distributed to the participants in the University of Saskatchewan General, Academic Assembly, in Convocation Hall, on Wednesday April 9th, 2014:
Four Questions and a comment from a taxpayer
As a citizen of Canada and a twenty-year resident of this province of, I am alarmed by some recent actions unelected chief executive officers have taken, and others that they are clearly laying the groundwork for, at an institution that calls itself the University of Saskatchewan. It certainly should be. Hundreds of thousands of us contribute a significant part of our taxes to directly and indirectly, cover virtually its entire budget. How do these very well-paid (with my tax money and ever-increasing tuition fees) senior administrators, in all their baffling profusion, claim to serve the people of Saskatchewan when they insist on continuing a discredited American “transformation” process that has already:
- In a bilingual country and a province with tens of thousands of students in French Immersion, set-up an already decimated French Department for further demolition.
- In a country and province whose main source of growth is immigration, most especially of skilled immigrants to such a degree that many K-12 schools have set up major programs in other important modern languages like the Spanish, German and Russian that many of these immigrants bring with them, similarly laid the groundwork for the elimination of what little is left of a Modern Language Department.
- In a country and province that pride themselves on gender parity, recognizing the rights of women and the right of individuals to freely engage in non-traditional gender-roles, readied the chopping block for the elimination of exactly the kind of Women and Gender Studies programs that provided the conceptual framework for these new freedoms.
- In a country and province that pride themselves on due process and fairness, how can these people purport to have represent the interests of the people of Saskatchewan in their brutal firing of dozens of support staff and especially the craven way they treated these workers like criminals by using security guards to eject them from their workplaces and the campus?
I find this deeply troubling. Especially shortly after watching the last of the 3 U of S Presidents I’ve seen come and go leave with a million dollar golden handshake, and learning that the current one will likely depart with even more . The relative cost saved by firing these people was miniscule, also in relation to the price of a burgeoning administrative bureaucracy that has doubled in size over the last decade, out of all proportion to student enrollment. Even more so, compared to the billion dollars being spent on new buildings, (some of it conveniently offloaded by the Wall government).
But the shock-value was likely considerable in persuading six-dozen professors accept retirement packages and – likely the real goal – abandon their positions for possible elimination. Our university is poorer with the loss of faculty who embodied valuable scholarship. It is also shabbier and less functional because of the loss of support staff who dealt with student and faculty and public needs and workers who used to much-needed maintenance and cleaning.
These actions may serve their career ambitions of senior administrators as they seek to impress future corporate employers or political masters with their ruthless effectiveness. They in no way serve the interests of Saskatchewan taxpayers in a public institution that they have no right to thus mutilate, or of students, faculty and the wider university community they have no right to thus bully and abuse.
Erich N. Keser
* I see absolutely no reason to treat these individuals with any more respect than they have shown in their appalling treatment of their support staff, despite their success in somehow wresting the two top positions in what is supposedly a university serving the public.