Don't blame Sean Riley for pending St. FX strike

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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.

Kyle Morrow

Political Science Student

St. Francis Xavier University

Organizations: NDP, FX Association of University, Canadian Centre FX University Senate MorrowPolitical Science Student St. Francis Xavier University

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Canada

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Recent comments

  • John Guthro
    February 01, 2013 - 13:12

    The sun is setting fast on the University model, as we in Nova Scotia seem reluctant to acceopt there is a big world outside the borders. Just Google the term MOOC to get an understanding of where higher education is going. The professors at X are going to have a hard time competing in the new reality of higher learning. They should take what they can get now and bone up their resumes. The world is going toward certificates and moving away from degrees.

  • Karen
    January 26, 2013 - 11:55

    Kyle, I want to commend you on your well written editorial. I too am a Stfx student concerned about the strike . There are a lot of issues not being brought to attention because it doesn't serve a purpose for the point they are trying to make. Students want to be angry with Sean Riley because he pays the professors but if they are directed toward the NDP they have no reason to be upset with Riley. Thank you for standing up!!

    • Alex
      January 30, 2013 - 14:30

      I think the more immediate concern is the vacant 160 residence rooms this year (at 6 to 8k each). Or perhaps the construction of two new residences (fully funded by the school) might be cause for concern. The academic integrity of the school is under attack and has been for a significant period of time. I am a student here as well. I am also a Nova Scotian and, therefore, realize that we do not exactly have the easiest budget to balance as a province (there's a website where you can try it yourself, if you're feeling brave). Placing the blame on the Dexter government is just a way for you to politicize what is otherwise an INTERNAL issue at StFX.