author: john loeppky | editor-in-chief
As first reported by CBC, the University of Regina education department will no longer fund Camp fYrefly. In the CBC report, the faculty is reported as pointing toward a mismatch between the mission of the faculty of education, their “mandate,” and the work of the camp for 2SLGBTQIA+. This follows a similar decision at the University of Alberta, where former University of Regina professor Dr. Jennifer Tupper is the dean.
I find these decisions shortsighted and ignorant to their core. The idea that the camp’s mission does not align with the faculty’s mandate here on campus is a false narrative rooted in trying to get away from funding a much–needed outlet for youth in this province. The University of Regina’s motto is “As One Who Serves,” and I would like to know where this funding is going – whether it does, in fact, serve better elsewhere.
Beyond that, the University of Regina has sung the program’s praises throughout its time providing funding. When I last saw a copy of the giving report of the University of Regina, the camp featured prominently. So, I’m not sure that the faculty’s decision to defund the camp and put the onus on already overstretched organizations such as UR Pride is rooted in students at all. How many folks saw themselves being supported by an open and inclusive faculty when they showed up at the camp? I spent three years as an education student (hurray for posters and reflections) and I’ve always thought that the faculty’s support of fYrefly was one of the best examples of how it, as an entity, actually cared about the community it was serving. Kudos to Dr. McNinch for playing an integral role in the camp.
I think the defunding it was a gutless decision, rooted in the idea that programs for minorities are the easiest to cut and will make the least noise. I think, after removing funding, the University of Regina should be required to answer for their decision rather than hiding behind a press release citing a mandate-related argument that doesn’t pass muster for me, as a student. In Alberta, at least, the work was consolidated into a provincial camp. I’m empathetic to the new dean having to answer the questions posed by the CBC soon after taking his post, but as a leader, I think it’s vital that administration are open and honest about their reasons for making particular decisions. The argument that costs are too high and resources too small is one reason why 2SLGBTQIA+ healthcare tends to lag behind, why there are very few safe spaces that don’t revolve around alcohol, and even fewer for disabled members of the community. “We just don’t have the money” is the easiest argument to put forward, but it lacks substance in its defense.
Full disclosure, I’m straight and cisgender. I can’t ever hope to fully understand this experience of discrimination, but I have seen it with my own eyes. Keeping that in mind, I urge those reading this article to be mindful of where the University of Regina’s charitable donations are going, where it lends its support and celebrates said work, and when that support is removed without a tangible reason. Again, hiding behind a press release just means you’re uncomfortable with answering the hard truths of a situation.
The CBC Article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/university-regina-faculty-education-camp-fyrefly-1.5011557