Monday, 5 October 2015
|Is power at the University of Manitoba too centralized|
with the administration? In today's guest post, a
U of M student argues it is.
Image Source: University of Manitoba Administration
Building, obtained from Wikipedia.
The university administration has attacked students. The attack can be most clearly seen in the budget cuts and fee increases that were passed this May, 2015. Depletion in the quality of our education, cuts to programs and courses, a loss of services across campus, a drop in community morale, and, despite University VP Academic Joanne Keselman’s claim that increasing tuition makes the university more accessible, an increase in barriers to accessibility were visible results.
But the attack on students existed long before the vote on this year’s budget. The process, or system, that generates these harmful decisions is the larger problem that plagues this university as well as many others.
The process in which the budget is created is incredibly opaque, as are many other decision making processes on neoliberal campuses.
The majority of budgetary decisions are made by a tight group of senior administration and by the Budget Advisory Committee – a small group completely lacking in transparency that meets throughout the year. These meetings are closed off to the public, including the university community. No minutes are published, and any documents dispersed are not allowed to enter the public domain. What a shame it would be for the university if their proposals could be properly scrutinized by the great minds of our campus.
Students who begin to question budgetary decisions, such as the $3.6 million transfer from the operating budget to the capital budget to pay offthe Welcome Centre, or the plans for developing movie theatres on purchased golf courses, are directed by the administration to the University’s Strategic Planning Framework and Strategic Plan. But this plan was created without student consultations that could create any binding decisions. This means that the consultations with students could only end in recommendations that the admins were free to ignore.
Once the budget proposals have been created, they are passed on to the Board of Governors (BoG) for a rubber stamp of approval. Students, who comprise the vast majority of the campus community, are given 6 out of 23 seats - 3 of these seats are given to UMSU who have traditionally given one of these seats to a University of Manitoba Graduate Students' Association (UMGSA) representative. These board members are only given a single week to review the proposal before it is voted on, with no alternative offered. This decision came at a time when many student board members were preparing for exams.
The university both keeps us in the dark, and acts as if we are having our voices heard. They have created a façade of democracy where students are led to believe that they make decisions that in fact come from a small group atop the administrative hierarchy. This fake democracy conceals our lack of power on campus and creates passive tendencies in students.
|University of Manitoba Students Union Vice-President|
Advocacy Rebecca Kunzman.
Image Source: Rebecca Kunzman/Twitter
But the phrase “action speaks louder than words” comes to mind, as UMSU VP of Advocacy Rebecca Kunzman refused to stand in opposition to the cuts and international fee increases, abstaining from voting while offering no amendments to the budget proposal. UMSU President Jeremiah Kopp voted in favour of the proposed cuts and international fee hikes, with no objection or amendments to the budget.
Our executives are failing us. On Friday, May 15th, students from the Student Action Network (SAN) met with voting student members of the BoG in an attempt to have them vote in opposition to the budget proposals. Despite our efforts, despite the outcry and activism of the international community, and the hundreds of students who participated in the rallies and marches of last year, it was evident that Kopp had already made his mind to vote in favour.
It is has been said time and time again by student bureaucrats that “process is process”. But this reinforcement of the bureaucratic structure allows the administration to avoid responsibility for the dire situation it has created. It allows them to continue with the façade of democracy, pushing the blame onto the broader community who is not at fault and is ultimately powerless.
Our UMSU executives have confused the end goals of unions with the means of attaining those goals. While good relations between our union and the administration can perhaps streamline the procedure of advocating for students, these relations must never be prioritized above the condition of students themselves. Better conditions for students must be the goal. Their confusion is manifested in their support of the budget, and their refusal to oppose administration.
|University of Manitoba Students Union President|
Image Source: Jeremiah Kopp/Twitter
Until UMSU takes issue with the processes it participates in, they can do little to solve our problems. It is not enough to ask them, or the administration, to make different choices on our behalf. The bureaucrats and their choices are a problem, but the problem also lies with the bureaucratic structure.
If the administration were to become reasonable before the next round of cuts, they would still be able to make terrible decisions on our behalf in the future. Instead, we must be able to make the choices ourselves. The university is a diverse and public intellectual centre that deserves a proper democratic process. The recently revived Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations (MOFA) has begun to make headway towards a participatory budget for the University of Manitoba as well as the University of Winnipeg. No doubt this is a step in the right direction, and one we must push the administration to adopt. Hope that we may progress towards a democracy – one that listens to domestic and international students, workers, and faculty – is inspiring.
But our efforts must not end there. Problems such as quotas, differential GPAs, and an increasingly privatized campus cannot all be fought for, or even discussed, within the scope of a budget. We must democratize other aspects of campus as well.
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Liked this post? Consider liking us on Facebook and following The Analyst on Twitter (even though he didn't write this post).
Thursday, 20 August 2015
|Image Source: Wonkette|
10,000 of these flyers were sent to Winnipeg through Canada Post mail delivery. Deceptively labelled "important election information", at least one Winnipegger opened it up - expecting information on where to vote - only to be taken aback by the disgusting shock value of the flyer photos.
But mass mailings weren't the only way these sicko flyers were distributed throughout our great city.A local group strongly opposed to reproductive choice, Winnipeg Against Abortion, decided to hand deliver 6,000 flyers to homes across the Winnipeg South Centre riding. This riding was one where the Conservative candidate, Joyce Bateman, very narrowly won over her nearest competitor and the flyers were in response to Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's new party line on reproductive choice.
Monday, 27 July 2015
Top: 2.6 million more Greek children entered
poverty following the recession, according
to 2014 Unicef report.
Bottom: Dave Shorr full of suggestions
for helping Greek kids.
Image Source: themanews.com (top)
Image Source: Dave Shorr (bottom)
Here’s what Shorr wrote to me, with selected — and selective — quotes from Hansard:
Shorr: A day after Nancy Allan sent her deputy minister to a high school in Steinbach, to close a shack for teenaged smokers, Jennifer Howard is reminded of her comments from a house debate in 2008 seemingly endorsing smoking as a family tradition.[...]Shorr again: Howard’s views are at odds with Allan’s efforts (to) reduce teen smoking in Manitoba high schools. Since the NDP have taken power, Manitoba has the highest rates in Canada for teen smoking.
Shorr: Perhaps most shocking of all is that she seems to be remiss that young adults will never get to experience smoking in bars.[...]Mr. Shorr, do you think me such an idiot that I would print this without reading Hansard and putting this in context? [emphasis added]
Let’s see what else Howard had to say in that debate, this time after reading her entire speech. I haven’t quoted it all here, I’ve been selective too. You can read the whole thing here.
Howard, on May 13, 2008: "I would like to talk for a moment about some of the things that we have done and how I think those things have been successful. Certainly, one of those is the ban on smoking in public places. I think it’s hard to overestimate what a tremendous change in culture that has been.
"When I speak now to friends of mine who have kids who are turning 18 and starting to go out to bars for the first time, it strikes me that this generation will never know a smoke-filled bar; that will never be part of their experience. I think that is a tremendously positive change in the culture."
Oh, that’s a little different, isn’t it?
"Gerrard's spin doctor blows smoke" Nick Martin, Winnipeg Free Press (January 20, 2011)
The former Liberal staffer went on to greater things, such as executive directorship of the rightwing lobby group Manitoba Forward. As director Shorr stated Manitoba Forward would bring forth "smart policy solutions". A big part of "smart policy solutions" for the lobby group is enacting stark, hard right economic reforms. So the gentleman and scholar that is Mr. Shorr must have much to say about one of the most high stakes economic case studies in the news: the Greek Crisis.
Tuesday, 19 May 2015
|Image Source: Twitter/Steve Ashton|
The forum was organized by the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Winnipeg born and raised activist Brigette DePape, of "rebel page" fame or infamy (depending on your circle) moderated the forum.
The overarching message was that voting matters and that groups of people need to be mobilized to vote, particularly low voting groups such as the youth, the indigenous and those with low incomes. This is a belief I have long held, noting the low voting of indigenous peoples in Canadian elections and how social inequality affected the municipal election here. In short, when social inequality maps onto voter turnout inequality you get the underprivileged underrepresented.
Tuesday, 5 May 2015
|Image Source: Environmental Defence Canada|
In mid April I went to a panel talk organized by the Council of Canadians and the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition on the proposed energy East Pipeline. In a talk featuring strong indigenous perspectives and highlighting the the clear and present danger of Energy East to livelihoods and our City's water supply. A discussion of another pipeline - the Keystone XL - and its opposition in Nebraska was supplied by a rancher from the state.
Tuesday, 28 April 2015
|Image Source: The Hamilton Spectator|
Note: Late in the day, but part of a new commitment to have a new post out every Tuesday.
Amid the height of the first wave of the Senate Scandal in 2013 Stephen Harper took to the Conservative Party faithful to bash "elites". In a speech dripping with hypocrisy Stephen Harper wagged his finger at the Supreme Court of Canada and Federal Liberals for his inability to get his own Senators to clean up the joint.
Tuesday, 21 April 2015
|Image Source: Chaos Cycling Club Forum|
These Federal grants, just so you know, came out during the Harper Government, which for all intents and purposes could give zero fucks about a small, municipally specific lobby in a mid-size prairie city.
Tuesday, 31 March 2015
|Are you with us or are you with the TERRORISTS?!!|
The mature reasoning like that
kind Elmwood-Transcona MP Lawrence
Toet would us.
Image Source: Youtube
Manitoba, unfortunately, was not free from this lunacy.
With the farce that is Vic Toews gone from Federal politics other Manitoba MPs have had to step up their game. My own representative of Lawrence Toet seems a prime candidate for the next Toews.
Defending Bill C-51- a civil liberties crushing bill that would inspire mass protest across Canada (including here) - with the following push polling flyer:
Saturday, 28 March 2015
Tuesday, 30 December 2014
Lest there be another Comment-Gate I'd like to clarify that I switched the commenting system over at The Winnipeg RAG Review from blogger's default system to Livefyre. Unfortunately, it seems that I had to kill a bunch of old comments to do so. Hopefully, it works out in the end.