All Posts Tagged With: "Brandon University"
Runaway compensation is hurting students
When students across the country united for the Canadian Federation of Students’ National Day of Action to protest tuition fees on Feb. 1, tiny Brandon University’s student union did their part.
They gathered students, foisted placards and yelled into a megaphone. The message was clear.
Drop fees. Drop fees. Drop fees.
It seems strange then, that last fall when the Brandon University Faculty Association went on strike for the second time in three years, the student union wasn’t so bothered about being asked to pay more for their professors— who make up most of the university’s costs.
6.3 per cent dropped
Nearly 200 students, representing six per cent of the student body, have left Brandon University since November. Scott Lamont, the vice president of administration and finance, told CBC News that it’s safe to assume many students dropped because of the uncertainty and missed classes that resulted from the 45-day long professors’ strike. The student’s union called for a refund of tuition paid during the strike. Instead, the deadline for voluntary withdrawal from first semester courses was moved to Jan 6. and professors were told to complete classes. The professors picketed from Oct. 12 until Nov. 26 in order to extract higher wage increases. On Dec. 6, they ratified a four-year agreement that includes an 8.5 per cent wage increase, plus increases to professional development, travel and meal allowances. It was the second strike at Brandon in three years.
Damage up to $150,000
Police in Brandon, Man. are treating Monday’s fire at the building that houses the Brandon University Students’ Union (BUSU) as suspicious. The damage to the Knowles Douglas building is believed to be between $100,000 and $150,000. No one was injured in the blaze. A 45-day professors’ strike at Brandon ended on Friday. Students returned to class on the same day as the fire. The BUSU sided with the professors’ demands for pay raises and, unlike the university, will not refund fees to students who drop their classes as a result of the nearly seven-week strike.
Students can complete courses or get refunds
After 45 days, the strike at Brandon University ended late Friday. Students will return to classes as of 6 p.m. Monday. On Sunday, University President Deborah Poff said that the Board of Governors approved a plan for student refunds of individual courses or entire semesters. However, students who wish to complete their courses will be able to finish the missed semester. Last week the provincial government said it would force Brandon’s 240 professors and other staff to vote on the university’s latest offer. That offer included a nine per cent pay raise over four years, plus an $1,800 signing bonus. To read about how students were reacting to the strike last week, click here.
Occupy? Demand money back? Transfer to Winnipeg?
As the faculty strike at Brandon University enters its seventh week, students are frustrated. But that doesn’t mean they’ve been sitting on their hands.
For Nathan Layh, a fourth-year student in the School of Music, this is the second faculty strike that has interrupted his studies. He was there when faculty picketed for 17 days in 2008.
It’s an interruption he’s not taking lightly. Layh, along with a handful of other students, has been camped out on campus since mid-October as part of ‘Occupy the Courtyard,’ movement, hoping to raise awareness of the strike’s impact. Aside from leaving to go to work or similar obligations, Layh says five to 10 protestors have been living on the BU courtyard everyday, even in snow.
“It’s been a long month,” he said. “We didn’t expect it to go this long, we thought that both sides would see how detrimental this is to the university,” he added.
Minister takes “extraordinary” step
Manitoba’s labour minister has ordered striking professors to vote on the latest contract offer from Brandon University’s administrators. A strike at the small prairie school has killed classes for six weeks now. If a majority vote “yes,” professors will go back to work almost immediately.
“I have reviewed the circumstances of the dispute and the negative effect of the work stoppage on the students of Brandon University and the city of Brandon,” Labour Minister Jennifer Howard wrote in a letter to university president Deborah Poff and BUFA president Joe Dolecki yesterday. “I am of the opinion that a vote of the employees in (BUFA) to accept or reject the last offer of the employer, respecting all matters remaining in dispute between the parties, is in the public interest.”
The vote is expected later this week. The parties were close to a deal last week. The university offered raises of nine per cent raise over four years, plus an $1,800 back-to-work bonus. BUFA wants 10 per cent over four years, plus $3,000 for each member who goes back to work.
The reason Brandon professors have gone on strike for the second time in three years is that they feel they’re underpaid. Associate professors average $89,000, which is less than the $106,000 nationwide. Still, salaries are very similar to those paid at similar small schools like Nipissing University in North Bay, Ont.
Last strike was in 2008
Brandon University’s 240 professors, librarians and administrative staff have voted 71 per cent in favour of a strike. That does not mean a strike is certain. “The clear message of this strong, positive mandate is that BUFA members are determined to achieve a fair and equitable settlement in this round of negotiations,” Brandon University Faculty Association president Joe Dolecki said in a release. The school experienced a 17-day strike in the fall of 2008, according to CBC News.
Provincial government funds study to explore developing Brandon medical education
The study will explore the option of developing a medical school in Brandon and potentially expanding a satellite program between the University of Manitoba and Brandon University. It will also look into enhancing existing medical education programs in Manitoba.
Brandon University president Deborah Poff will chair the study’s steering committee, with U of M dean of medicine Brian Postl serving as vice-chair. “This will be a comprehensive review that will include input from local communities, health professionals and other stakeholders and we anticipate completing the study as expeditiously as possible,” Poff said in a press release issued by the province.
University needs to find $1.2 million in cuts to balance its budget
According to the Winnipeg Free Press, Brandon University is going to leave five per cent of its professor positions vacant for the next school year.
Jobs won’t be eliminated, but 11 of 220 faculty positions will be left vacant next year, according to the school’s vice-president of finance.
The university needs to cut about $1.25 million, and is attempting to balance its budget by leaving the jobs vacant, digging into reserve funds and making a variety of small cuts across the school’s campus. For more, click here.
Students return to classes on Friday
A two-and-a-half week faculty strike at Manitoba’s Brandon University ended yesterday evening and students will be returning to classes Friday after the university and its faculty association reached a tentative agreement late Wednesday.
Neither side is releasing details of the agreement pending ratification.
According to the union, the major issues were pensions and a sexual harassment policy.
As the strike entered its third week, Manitoba’s premier Gary Doer offered to send the dispute to binding arbitration. The faculty association declined the offer last Friday.
As the third week dragged on, it appeared the two sides were further apart than ever. On Monday, talks between the two sides broke down and the university left the table requesting the dispute be sent to binding arbitration.
The university changed the final date for voluntary withdrawal to November 14, but does not expect to change the date of December exams.
The dispute involving 240 faculty, instructional assistants, and librarians effected 3,300 students.
As Windsor strike drags on, Brandon professors get ready for the picket line
It appears faculty at the Brandon University will be on strike starting Monday.
Meanwhile, the strike at the University of Windsor continues without any end in sight. The provincial mediator has left the table and neither side is talking. According to the mediator, there is no reasonable prospect the sides will be able to settle the dispute at the present time.
This leaves students with no classes, and no hope of returning to classes this week.
With this in mind, it is time for the government to prepare to act.
The Ontario Minister of Labour, Peter Fonseca, must deliver a strong message to the two sides that he expects them to negotiate. Failing that, he must be prepared to table back-to-work legislation. (It’s a shame that no one is able to toss the leaders of the two sides into a room and lock the door until they reach an agreement.)
If the two sides do not sit down; it’s inevitable that the province will be forced to legislate faculty back-to-work. The government will not tolerate a cancellation of the academic year.
UWindsor students cannot afford to lose summer jobs because there exams run into the first week of May to make up for a strike in October.
In short, the Minister of Labour must get the two sides into a room Monday morning or table back-to-work legislation; anything else will be letting students suffer in the interest of political appearances.
(A side note, I’ve noted discussion about how a fall strike may hurt recruitment as grade 12 students are presently deciding which schools to apply to. If anything, I’d be more inclined to attend a university which settled contracts negotiations the year prior to my attending than one which faces contract talks during my first year)