To the editor,
Recently a group of St. FX students organized a demonstration outside of Dr. Sean Riley's office to show support for the St. FX Association of University Teachers. I am neither supporting nor condemning the St. FX AUT and the students who took part. What I find perplexing, however, is how neither the protesting students nor the aforementioned union is placing the blame at the feet of the real culprits of St. FX's fiscal constraints: the provincial NDP government.
It was the NDP government this fiscal year that announced a massive $10 million cut to university funding and it is the NDP government that has refused to rule out more devastating cuts to post-secondary funding in the future. In fact, according to some estimates, the NDP has cut $100 million (adjusted for inflation) in post-secondary funding over the past three years. A Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report now claims Nova Scotia has the least affordable post-secondary education system in Canada.
So why did the St. FX AUT publish an online document entitled "Commentary: St. FX AUT Response to the Budget Presentation" on its website on Jan. 21 without any mention of the NDP's $100 million in cuts? In fact, the union shrugged it off, noting, "Differences in the budget amounts are not all attributable to external factors... but many are a direct result of management policy... and decision making." I spent a solid 30 minutes sifting through the union's website and found no mention of the NDP's $100 million in cuts at all.
What I did find on the St. FX AUT website, however, was a deplorable cheap shot at Sean Riley and Ramsay Duff (Commentary: Jan. 21, 2013). I have had the opportunity to serve alongside both men on the St. FX University Senate and I think students should know both of these men care as much about this school as the members of AUT. Political pandering and cheap shots should play no role in this negotiation process on either side.
Now I plan on protesting myself, however, I won't be protesting outside the offices of Sean Riley and Ramsay Duff. I will be protesting outside of Antigonish NDP MLA Maurice Smith's office. I would encourage the faculty and academic workers to join me outside our NDP MLA's office as I call on the government to cancel the $9 million it gave to Michelin and the $260 million it gave to Irving, in order to restore St. FX's funding.
Political Science Student
St. Francis Xavier University