Article: Tommy Douglass – Contributor
When I first heard of the potential non-confidence vote, I was taken aback. It seemed to me as though only a week ago it was March 2013 and the University of Regina made history with its first council meeting in twenty years. I had attended the event and witnessed firsthand the frustration held by many faculty members.
I remember three distinct voices. “We want to know who is accountable for this! We don’t have enough sessionals and we want to know exactly where the money is!” Rang out the voice of an English professor. “An external audit will consume more time, more money, and will further weaken our current financial position.” Replied the calm voice of a Paul J Hill professor. “We will take every recommendation seriously and implement what we can.” Replied the executive.
In all, eight motions were passed and progress was born, as it often is, from the furnace. Progress, it would seem, is what the U of R does best lately. With the consistency and determination of a military drummer the U of R has managed to march on and meet some of its biggest challenges for the future. With the exception of parking, that is
The audit came at the end of August. The University’s financial statements were found to be reliable and rules and procedures to safeguard public resources were effective. If the books are good, then why the uproar? Why are some departments so underfunded?
The U of R has seen rapid commercialization in recent years in an effort to generate more revenue. Whether commercialization is the right option in my opinion is another issue altogether, and while I don’t necessarily agree with the ethics of science for sale, what else can the U of R do when it is ridiculously underfunded?
The U of R has seen consistently disproportionate levels of provincial funding compared to its counterpart the U of S. In fact, if you take a look at the University Of Regina Operations Forecast for 2013-2014, you will see that even with its meager funding, tuition at the U of R remains the sixteenth lowest of the fifty-seven English-language Canadian public universities. Furthermore, the U of R has managed to do this when it receives about five and half thousand dollars less provincial funding per full-time student than the U of S. As if they weren’t hamstrung already, now the provincial government is tapering down their promised increase of funding from around five percent to a meager increase of 1.95.
While everyone is busy pointing a finger at Dr. Timmons and Dr. Chase, the provincial government has cut back on promised funding and the serious inequity between our two Saskatchewan Universities continues. The audit gave the university a clean bill of financial health and yet the mud continues to be slung.
It seems to me the real problem lies with a lack of communication. Maybe we should try to schedule a council meeting more often than every 20 years. It’s no secret that the U of R is undergoing a radical metamorphosis and the newly commercialized left arm of the University doesn’t seem to be communicating with the right arm. Both arms are yelling at the head and the head is trying to appease everyone. Right now, the University of Regina stands grumbling and divided. The real bone to pick is with the provincial government, yet some factions seek to blame the executive. You want mismanagement of money – how about the guys who need to raise tobacco and alcohol taxes to keep the books in the black this year? Why don’t we raise both arms and lift our heads toward the provincial government with the same motivation and passion.
I may not know much. After all, I’m just a lowly business undergrad, but I’ve had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Timmons on a number of occasions. To me, it’s plain to see that this Red Cross Humanitarian of the year is not the issue at the U of R, but rather one of its shining lights. A vote of non-confidence is a step backward for the U of R. Times are indeed tough, but they will only get worse unless the University of Regina can pull itself together and stand united against serious underfunding.