All Posts Tagged With: "University of New Brunswick"
Aeroplan miles can be used at UNB and Centennial College
Aeroplan, a Canadian loyalty program, will now allow people to pay university or college tuition using miles collected when they shop at certain retailers, use certain credit cards or fly on Air Canada. The University of New Brunswick and Centennial College are among the first institutions to sign up. Aeroplan miles may be converted at a rate of 35,000 for $250 off one’s own tuition or someone else’s. There’s no limit on conversion. Higher Ed Points, which is behind the program, offers form e-mails students can use to request that friends and family donate their miles.
On Judith Butler’s honourary degree from McGill
Every convocation season, some group somewhere in Canada protests an honoury degree recipient or commencement speaker. This year, the controversy is over the honourary doctor of letters that McGill University will bestow upon feminist scholar Judith Butler on Thursday.
Butler is well-respected by those who follow gender theory and perhaps equally despised by supporters of Israel because she calls the nation an “apartheid state” and seemed to sympathize with the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah when she called them anti-colonial and anti-imperialist forces. She later clarified that she doesn’t support “violent resistance,” but that’s not good enough for McGill Hillel and McGill Students for Israel who want the honour reconsidered.
The fact that these students are speaking out against her degree is a healthy sign. Nonetheless, the honourary degree should go ahead. I say bring on the controversial thinkers. That’s what university is all about. Or supposed to be about, anyway.
What students are talking about today (March 18th)
1. Remember before the last federal election when everyone was sharing that little website with the photo of Stephen Harper stroking a cat, plus pages and pages of one-liners about nefarious acts our PM was accused of committing? After Shitharperdid.com amassed 4.1 million in three days in 2011, we didn’t hear much about it again. Well, now it’s back in another form. Vancouver Comedian Sean Devlin, one of the site’s founders, is joining up with improv group The Sunday Service, Brigette DePape (the STOP Harper sign wielding page) and others for the Shitharperdid.com Live! Comedy Tour. Tonight it’s at the University of British Columbia and more than 350 people have told Facebook they plan to attend. Later it stops at Emily Carr University, Simon Fraser University and Douglas College.
2. Harper may have done some shit, but the New Democrats’ budget, released Monday, doesn’t offer an exciting alternative. In fact, it will only appeal to you if you’re a real person. “Real things for real people” has five prongs: better public transit, roads and bridges, fair pensions, health care for veterans, jobs for young people and small business investment, but it’s rather short on details. The “jobs for young people” section says the NDP would launch “a $500 top-up to the tax credit for small- and medium-sized employers who create jobs for Canadians aged 18-30.” Big deal.
What students are talking about today (January 25th)
1. “Alcohol overconsumption = sexual assaults,” Tweeted University of New Brunswick Security last week. Anyone who has followed the issue of sexual assault lately can imagine the indignation that followed. Lee Thomas of The Brunswickan put it this way: most reported sexual assaults have male perpetrators, “so I would expect UNB Security’s “Males = sexual assaults” Tweet any day now.” Except, of course, that would be a crazy generalization. Thomas goes further pointing out that “it’s not the victim’s responsibility to ensure that they don’t get attacked; it’s the rapist’s responsibility to ensure that he or she does not rape.” He’s obviously right that it’s wrong to blame the victim. A better Tweet would have been “Alcohol overconsumption = occasional bad decisions,” although that’s a separate issue.
Government failing Species At Risk, say scientists
As the 10th anniversary of the federal Species At Risk Act approaches, dozens of animals and plants have been added to the list considered at-risk.
The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has released a report card on species at risk, with a subtle reminder the protections offered under the act do work — when they’re actually applied.
“It’s actually implementing those plans that’s the problem. There’s no legislative requirement to actually do anything in the end,” said Eric Taylor, a professor of zoology at the University of British Columbia and one of dozens of committee members who met last week to review the status of 42 species.
The process takes time and money, he said, and then falls victim to government “stalling.”
“This is what people have to realize, as well, that it’s not cheap to do this process, and to have the government do nothing about it is not only hurting the animals, but taxpayers are not getting good value for money.”
Bieber in Maclean’s, Rihanna in Toronto & the Middle East
1. The conflict between Israel and Gaza is exploding again. Gaza sent hundreds of rockets at Israel in recent days, prompting the Israeli army to strike back. A precise operation took out more than 100 rocket launchers and killed at least 13 in Gaza, including Hamas military mastermind Ahmed Al-Jaabari, six Hamas fighters and, sadly, six civilians. A Palestinian rocket killed three Israeli civilians. The U.S. and Canada have declared their support for Israel’s right to defend itself.
2. In less stressful news, Justin Bieber gave an intimate interview (that sounds so wrong) to Brian D. Johnson, a Maclean’s columnist who was, for a guy who’s quizzed Jagger, Richards and Madonna, surprisingly intimidated by the idea of speaking to the 18-year-old star. Some of the tidbits that didn’t make it into the magazine include a tense moment when Biebs is asked “What are your views these days on premarital sex?” More here.
3. Still on the celebrity beat, we have more evidence that Rihanna is a robot. She’s doing seven shows in seven days in seven cities. Tonight she’s at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall. “Yo Toronto. I’ll be at The Danforth tonight. Will you? #777Tour #HTC #2ndStop #UNAPOLOGETIC,” she Tweeted. There are some fun shots of her getting mobbed at Pearson Airport over at CityNews.ca.
Texas tuition freeze, a stabbing & mandatory women’s studies
1. Two people were stabbed during a fight at a house party near McMaster University early on Sunday. This isn’t the first stabbing at a house party near McMaster. Many of the people in attendance were from out of town, police say.
2. Rick Perry, the conservative Texas governor who ran for the Republican presidential nomination, has endorsed a four-year tuition freeze at state colleges and universities. Anti-tuition advocates usually have more success with left-wing parties, but this statement won’t surprise anyone who has heard of Perry’s push to create a $10,000 degree in the Lonestar State.
3. The York Federation of Students is pushing for “a mandatory equity or women’s studies course to help students gain awareness of the root causes behind sexual assaults and violence.” A professor in York’s the School of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies says it may not be the best idea and that there is no guarantee such a course would actually reduce sexual assaults.
Burning couches is dangerous and costly
Firefighters in Fredericton, N.B. want students to consider the financial costs and potential dangers of burning couches after two were found alight near the city’s universities on Friday. The end-of-year tradition among students from St. Thomas University and the University of New Brunswick is something the city has fought for years—apparently without much success. There were 19 furniture fires in 2008. Captain David McKinley told CBC News that there have been seven already this year.
The argument against a Canadian Officers Training Corps
Last week, another prominent Canadian restated the proposal that Canada should bring back The Canadian Officers Training Corps, a campus-based program that was discontinued in 1968, but championed in a recent film by Robert Roy.
Lee Windsor, Deputy Director of the Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society at the University of New Brunswick, supports a program whereby undergraduates register as cadets and get military training on campus while pursuing their studies, after which they may or may not choose to sign up in the reserves or the regular forces.
The new proposal has been widely reported, but not widely endorsed. We should keep it that way.
Guess which universities get the least student financial aid
You know the stereotype that Queen’s University attracts rich kids? The one played up in this recent viral video in which a student jokes: “I don’t know what financial aid is, but Queen’s has it.”
Well, if the number of students receiving financial assistance is any indication, it’s very likely true.
Queen’s University has the lowest number of students receiving Ontario Student Assistance in the province: only 29.6 per cent of students.
Contrast that to Nipissing University in the relatively poorer north of Ontario, where twice as many—59.6 per cent—get loans. It’s almost as high at Trent University—59.3 per cent.
Student tests positive
Up to 300 students and five faculty members at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John will be tested for Tuberculosis (TB) after a classmate tested positive for the airborne disease.
Public health officials notified the university on Monday morning that a student had tested positive for the infection, reports the Telegraph-Journal. The university notified the public Tuesday.
Kevin Bonner, director of student services, told the paper that skin tests will be available in the university’s gymnasium on Friday. Results are often available in just a few days.
Health Canada reports that TB, although serious, is not very contagious. “A person usually has to have frequent exposure to someone with active TB,” says its website. “For example, spending several hours a day with a person with active TB could put you at risk of infection.”
There are approximately 1,600 new cases of TB reported in Canada every year. Health Canada says it usually attacks the lungs, but can also impact the lymph nodes, kidneys, urinary tract and bones. It is easily cured with antibiotics, but still kills almost two million people worldwide each year.
Parents are expected to pay. But what if they can’t or won’t?
University of New Brunswick student Ben Whitney has a $5,000 hole in his budget this year thanks to the re-introduction of the parental contribution requirement for student loan funding in that province. He was loaned $8,000 last year, before the change. This year, the third-year student got just $3,000 because of what his parents—a middle manager and a secretary—took home last year from work. The 20-year-old’s parents are expected to make-up the difference. It’s money that Whitney says his parents don’t have this year.
But the issue of parental contributions, which he’s taken up with verve, means a lot more to him than sudden penury. “It’s also a matter of principle,” says Whitney. “As an adult, I shouldn’t have to depend on my parents until I’m 22,” he says. “It’s also a matter of pride to have to call my parents and ask, can you send me $20 so I can buy a bottle of shampoo?” he says. But he can’t afford such luxuries otherwise, even with a part-time job.
Website offers profs group therapy
June Madeley is annoyed with the increasingly rude demands she gets from students at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John. Ten years ago, it was common for them to see her during office hours when they had a question. “Now there’s an expectation that we’ll answer their emails immediately and meet them whenever there’s a good time for them.” And as surely as the leaves pile up on campus each October, the communications professor knows her inbox will soon fill with complaints about mid-terms scheduled for the week after the Thanksgiving holiday. “There are a lot of people who feel they can’t make the exam because of travel arrangements,” she says. “And others who think it’s unfair that they have to study that weekend.”
But when Madeley gets frustrated, she doesn’t fire off a snotty email to the student. She logs on to “That’s ‘Professor’ Uptight to You, Johnny,” a Facebook group with 297 members, all of them teaching at universities and colleges. The members-only site is a place where university educators can vent in the form of steaming emails they wish they could write to their students but can’t because that would be, well, rude. Madeley, who says she hasn’t posted yet, enjoys reading the rants from her colleagues. The site is run by Khrystyne Keane, a Connecticut-based editor for a non-profit group, who took over its administration as a favour to a professor friend. The logo—a unicorn standing under a rainbow—is a jab at students, some of whom feel they are every bit as special as the fabled one-horned horse and the multicoloured arc.
The posts are all written to anonymous Janeys and Johnnies, but they share one trait: carefully crafted sarcasm. “Dear Johnny, I suspect that if you had spent as much time and effort on your last assignment as you did on the long flaming email you just sent me, this whole ‘conversation’ would never have happened,” reads one. “Dear Janey, I want to assure you that we didn’t do anything important in class. We just stared out the window for three hours in silence,” reads another.
Nothing riles a professor more than asking about material covered in a skipped lecture. But Joey O’Kane, a vice-president of the University of New Brunswick Student Union, thinks it’s no big deal. He also thinks it’s reasonable to expect email responses from profs within 24 hours, preferably 12. “Professors have a pretty good gig,” he says. “You put in some office hours, you teach for a few hours and then you end up with a decent paycheque, so taking 10 minutes out of your day to respond to a few emails . . . I don’t think that’s asking too much.”
Kevin Maness, another Facebook member from Eastern University in Pennsylvania, recalls a student who emailed him a couple of weeks after the last semester ended and asked if there was anything he could do to increase his grade because he had been “too busy” playing basketball. Incredulous, Maness wanted to shoot off a caustic retort. Long before he had even heard about That’s “Professor” Uptight, someone else had addressed the same complaint with a post that read: “Dear Johnny, Just tell me the grade you want and I’ll change it in the book, because it doesn’t really matter anyway.” After joining the group last month, Maness has found it to be “great group therapy.”
When Maness attended the University of Pennsylvania in the early ’90s, he accepted that professors would challenge him. In return for doing the coursework, he was rewarded with the grade he had earned. Now, if he hands out a C-minus “it’s almost like a complete shock to them.”
So why the attitude? In their book Lowering Higher Education: The Rise of Corporate Universities and the Fall of Liberal Education, University of Western Ontario sociologists James Côté and Anton Allahar say it started when higher education became purely a financial exchange. Funding pressures forced universities to accept as many students as possible, even those who weren’t suited to academics, says Côté. That crowds lecture halls with students who shouldn’t be there.
At the very least, one educator feels students should learn to mind their manners. At the University of Minnesota, law professor Michele Goodwin added “civility” to her course requirements this September. “Failure to follow this guideline will affect your final grade,” she wrote in the class syllabus, explaining that emails should include the basic salutation “Dear Professor Goodwin” and not “Hey Prof.”
She even assigned practice email as homework. “It’s a bit awkward for professors to think, wow, this is actually my job now?” says Goodwin, who blogs for industry publication The Chronicle of Higher Education, “but it’s necessary.” If the new rules don’t work out, at least she has a place to commiserate. The professor can always join That’s “Professor” Uptight to You, Johnny.
Editor’s Note: I wrote this story for the print edition of Maclean’s. As both Profs. Maness and Magatha have pointed out in the comments section, it should have included more nuance. For one, I should have made it more clear that every single professor I spoke to for this piece exuded passion for teaching. Indeed, research shows that North American professors work on average around 55 hours per week and many of those hours are dedicated to helping students learn beyond the classroom—something they get little credit for. The profs. also made it clear that there are many students who don’t fit the stereotype of entitled. I agree. While it’s a challenge to decide what to include in the space allotted, I should have done a better job. I also want to note that there was a factual error in this story that was introduced in the editing process. Maness did not read a complaint “months earlier” from another professor who sarcastically offered to change a student’s grade. That was merely what he said he might have written had he know about the page at the time.
Fredericton schools find unacceptable levels of lead
The student newspaper at St. Thomas University is reporting that eight drinking fountains at the small university are being shut down because of high levels of lead detected in the fountains. University officials were uncertain as to the exact source of the contamination, and vowed to replace the fountains with newer models equipped with filters to make the water safe.
According to the report, STU only looked into their fountains after recent tests at the University of New Brunswick showed unacceptable levels of lead in 18 per cent of fountains and sinks — along with others that were very close to the limits set out by Health Canada. New fountains are on order there, too, according to The Brunswickan, coming in at a total cost of roughly $100,000 dollars for twenty fountains.
Why does this matter? Long-term exposure to small amounts of lead can harm the nervous system. According to Health Canada:“Recent scientific studies on lead show that adverse health effects are occurring at lower levels of exposure to lead than previously thought.”
Concerns over water quality at school drinking fountains are not new. A US investigation in 2009 turned up lead-contaminated drinking water at schools in every American state. Some of the lead came from the school’s own well or local water supplies, while lead-soldered pipes were identified as culprits in other cases. In Canada, one study found that 27 per cent of “first draw” samples taken in Ontario schools had high levels of lead, and 9 per cent still had high levels even after the system was flushed.
How many more schools have contaminated water that is going undetected? Since STU only identified its problem after learning of the UNB case, universities across the country may need to begin more systematic monitoring of water quality. At present, Ontario is the only province that has legally mandated monitoring of school drinking water. Mandatory or not, universities should consider conducting tests of their own.
In Fredericton, furniture blazes are dangerous tradition
It’s a sure sign that students are back at school in Fredericton. The Fire Department has responded to three couch fires since Sunday, Platoon Capt. Jeff Mills, told the Times & Transcript newspaper.
“It’s a joke and it’s fun for someone,” said Mills. “But it’s tying up personnel that could really benefit someone else,” he added.
There was an epidemic of couch fires near Fredericton’s two new universities, the University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University, in 2007, when 43 furniture fires were recorded on Graham Avenue alone. After the the city created designated days for roadside pick-up of trashed furniture, the total dropped to 17 in 2008 and nine in 2009. Including the three this frosh week, there have been six so far in 2011.
Mayor Brad Woodside offered a message for students after hearing of the fires. “This is your home away from home and live, love, laugh and enjoy,” he said, “[But] respect the community when you’re here, we’ll treat you like family, but treat this like it’s your home as well.”
UNB English prof teaches every 50 minutes as if it is ‘the most important 50 minutes’ of her students’ lives
In 1986, to recognize the importance of university teaching, the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and 3M Canada created the 3M National Teaching Fellowships. Ten university faculty members are recognized each year for their educational leadership and exceptional contributions to teaching. This week we continue our series profiling all 10 of the 3M Teaching Award winners, with a look at Diana Austin, an English professor at the University of New Brunswick.
When Diana Austin saw a video of herself teaching, she could not have been more embarrassed. As she lectured in front of the class, she became wildly animated. “I was horrified to see how expressive my face was,” says the University of New Brunswick English professor. “I actually apologized to my students.”
There was no need. Austin’s intensity, where “whatever emotions” she is teaching “flit right across” her face, is what draws students to her. Her apology was rebuffed by her class as unnecessary.
That enthusiasm for English literature and poetry has been charming students for years. Sean Yeomans, who graduated from UNB in 1995, says what he remembers most fondly about Austin was “her waving her intensity and passion” at the authors she taught.
Yeomans, who is CEO of Prince Edward Island video game developer, Telos, credits Austin with helping him to “harness a thought and wrestle it down.”
Once when Austin, a notoriously hard marker, awarded him a “B” on a paper, he visited her to see how he could improve. She tore “apart the entire essay from beginning to end,” Yeomans recalls. While going through that exercise with another professor, might have been excruciating, Yeomans welcomed it from Austin. “I was hungry for that kind of attention to detail and she recognized that and she was fired up,” he says.
Third-year English student Ashlee Joyce, would agree with that sentiment, describing Austin as a “coach” who is always “in your corner.”
Joyce highlights two common exercises that Austin uses to engage her students.
The first is called “designated speakers” where at the start of each class a different student gives their opinion of that week’s readings. “Dr. Austin has a way of making every student feel valued for their idea. Any interpretation is on the table for discussion,” Joyce says.
The other exercise is “rants and raves” where three times each term, students submit a couple paragraphs, via email, about either what they loved or what they hated about a particular reading assignment. Students are encouraged to be informal, and to draw comparisons between the readings and events in the world or their own lives. “She really believes in developing each individual student,” Joyce says.
Austin would be heartened to hear her students speak that way as it illustrates almost perfectly her teaching goals. “My attitude is to teach every 50 minutes as if it is the most important 50 minutes for any of our lives because we don’t know what’s going to happen,” she says.
Spirit of Canada was the theme running through the night at celebration in Toronto
Last night at Koerner Hall in Toronto, the University of New Brunswick celebrated its 225th year by awarding five honourary degrees to outstanding Canadians. Each honouree gave an impassioned talk about his or her field of expertise. Alan MacGibbon, a business leader and the current managing partner and chief executive at Deloitte Canada, spoke about the coming economic uncertainties and the opportunity Canada has to create business models that are responsible and sustainable. Olympic athlete Clara Hughes was also honoured, and talked about the value of sport and its power to inspire.
Purdy Crawford, an esteemed lawyer and businessman, discussed Canada’s great potential to be a leading nation in the world. Carolyn Acker, the founder of Pathways to Education Canada, shared her thoughts on the possibility for education to empower and create new pathways for underprivileged people in this country. Finally, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine gave a speech about the place of reconciliation in Canada, and the goal Canadians should have to close the health and well-being gap between First Nations people and the rest of Canada.
New Brunswick came to Toronto for the evening because Ontario is home to a great number of UNB alumni and donors. The university is also seeking to create awareness about its history and offerings outside of the Atlantic provinces. The university was founded in 1785 before Canada was formed and even before the U.S. had its first President. Loyalists from south of the border carved UNB out of the wilds of New Brunswick with the goal of bringing higher education to the local population. Since then, the university has established this nation’s first engineering school, as well as a world-renowned institute of biomedical engineering, among other top-ranked programs. The university now has 13,000 students who come from 100 countries.
Canada’s oldest English-language university celebrates its 225th year
This school year marks the 225th anniversary of the University of New Brunswick, Canada’s oldest English-language university (only Laval, founded in 1663, trumps it), currently renowned for its engineering, science, and computer programs. Eddy Campbell, UNB president and vice chancellor, says this milestone is just the right opportunity for the university to boast about its considerable accomplishments and rich legacy. “Universities in Atlantic Canada probably don’t receive the national distinction they deserve,” says Campbell. “Canadians are a modest bunch and maybe we don’t take sufficient time to celebrate our success and blow our own horn.”
So the school has planned a series of events that will do just that. First, there’s an honorary degree night at Koerner Hall in Toronto on Sept. 23 that will showcase talented alumni, including Anne Murray and Frank McKenna, as well as five Canadians that the university feels have made an enormous contribution to Canada. The honourees are Carolyn Acker (pioneer in poverty reduction), Purdy Crawford (business leader and dean emeritus of Canada’s corporate bar), Phil Fontaine (former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations), Clara Hughes (Olympic champion and philanthropist) and Alan MacGibbon (UNB alumnus, global strategist, and corporate visionary).
In October, homecoming at UNB will be bigger and splashier than usual, and the history of the university will be documented in a new book about architecture on campus. The university was founded in 1785 by Loyalists who had fled the American Revolution. (A second campus was established in Saint John, N.B., in 1964.) The Fredericton campus houses the oldest university building in the country that is still in regular use for school operations.
The university’s history is also entwined with the legacy of Max Aitken, or Lord Beaverbrook. He was the first modern day chancellor at UNB, a patron of the university, and of course, a towering historical figure who became a press baron and sat on the war cabinet of Winston Churchill. To pay homage to their great benefactor, a “Beaverbrook Celebration” will take place on campus in November.
As Campbell says, “UNB is a great university and it does not always enjoy the kind of reputation it should given its quality.” He adds: “This event is a good opportunity for us to go to Toronto, make a splash, celebrate our accomplishments, and start pointing out to people what great universities we have out here on the east coast.”
Photo: Sir Howard Douglas Hall (Old Arts Building) at the UNB Fredericton Campus; the oldest university building in Canada. Courtesy of the University of New Brunswick.
University committee to make recommendation on whether condoms can be handed out during orientation week
Condoms might be available everywhere at St. Thomas University, in Fredericton, but a plan to hand them out to first-year students during orientation initially caused confusion over whether the university had a policy that prevented it. To clear up the misunderstanding, university president Dennis Cochrane struck a committee on student health that is expected to make a recommendation within days.
Update: Condom fiasco at an end
In July, the St. Thomas Students’ Union (STUSU) was told by Residence Life that they couldn’t include condoms in Welcome Week kits, alongside t-shirts, clip boards, and information about the campus. When STUSU sought clarification from the administration, it was discovered that no such policy existed, only a long standing convention, although condoms had been handed out in some previous years. It was also suggested to STUSU and reported elsewhere that the decision stemmed from the university’s roots as a Catholic institution, but the university denies that. Although the university originated as a religious institution, it is now a secular university.
Jeffrey Carleton, STU’s director of media relations, said the request to hand out condoms during Welcome Week was denied because condoms are available elsewhere on campus, including from a residence adviser, and because students have “more important” things to worry about during their first week. “Any student who wants [a condom] can just go ask for one . . . the feeling was that [Welcome Week] just wasn’t the appropriate time,” he said.
Student president Ella Henry says while condoms are indeed readily available, students might “feel embarrassed” about approaching a residence adviser for a condom. “It was about establishing a culture where safe sex is normal,” she said. “We have to recognize that students are going to have sex . . . They aren’t going to necessarily put that off.”
Although not all student unions distribute condoms during orientation week, it is widely practiced across Canada, including at the University of New Brunswick which has a Fredericton campus that is shared with St. Thomas.
The committee advising the president is composed of ten members representing various campus constituencies including four students. The committee will also make other recommendations regarding student health and wellness.
Conciliation board appointed by government to bring an end to collective bargaining gridlock.
University of New Brunswick students were given some hope Thursday, after the province appointed a conciliation board to bring an end to a collective bargaining stalemate that has, until now, made a faculty strike seem all but a foregone conclusion.
After negotiations broke down between the university and the Association of University of New Brunswick Teachers (AUNBT) at the beginning of February, things were looking grim and the possibility of a strike loomed.
Previously, both parties had been working with a conciliation officer, a neutral representative who could make suggestions during negotiations. These talks concluded on Feb. 3 with several issues still undecided, and the parties entered into a waiting period before potentially going to a strike or a lockout.
To break the deadlock, Donald Arseneault, minister for post-secondary education in New Brunswick, announced the formation of a conciliation board to look into the remaining issues on the table between the two parties.
The formation of the board is a rare move in labour negotiations, but the appointment of the conciliation board prevents the possibility of a strike or lockout until after the board has filed its non-binding report. According to a document on the AUNBT website, this can take at least a month. AUNBT also stated that although they are surprised by the minister’s decision, they will work with the conciliation board in good faith.
In a joint press release, the administration and the union stated that “Both AUNBT and the UNB administration continue to share the goal of supporting the communities around us and of making UNB a better place to study and work.”
Both sides have agreed to a media blackout and said that “All communication with the media regarding negotiations will be by way of joint statements at this time.”
However, the Daily Gleaner reported Friday that it had obtained a faculty union “internal bargaining bulletin” that outlined AUNBT’s position. According to the Gleaner, the union says it is rejecting the university’s salary proposal that would see wages frozen for the first two years of a contract, and increase by two per cent during the final two years.
“This moves average salaries at UNB drastically downwards relative to other universities so that the average assistant professor at UNB will be earning 15 per cent less than if they were working at St. Thomas University, 12 per cent less than at Mount Allison or 35 per cent less than Queen’s University,” the internal document reads.
Jon O’Kane, president of the UNB Student Union, feels that the appointment of the conciliation board is a positive decision that will help settle the discussion.
“Negotiations are going to happen in a more thorough, rigorous way, before we get to that position of a possible strike or lockout,” he said. “Those fears . . . are there, and they’re still there, except now we know that people are still going to be at the table for sure for a little while longer.”
The UNB Student Union is not choosing a side as it does not want to interfere with deliberations. “We don’t want to use students as emotional pawns,” said O’Kane.
AUNBT represents 600 academic staff. Approximately 12,000 students would be affected by a strike.