“An ugly stain for years to come”: Laurentian University interests shaken by staff, program cuts

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“An ugly stain for years to come”: Laurentian University interests shaken by staff, program cuts


Monday was one of the worst days on record for the Laurentian University community, with news that around 100 faculty members lost their jobs and dozens of programs were canceled, leaving students, staff and other interests shaken.
“I found out about the news on my program on Twitter… but then seeing it officially confirmed in the email was just heartbreaking,” said political science student Katlyn Kotila, adding that the loss of a third of Sudbury, in Ontario. , the teachers at the school are amazing.

“It’s an absolute loss, not only for the university, but especially for the students. These students have come to Laurentian to study with academics who are the best in their field. Many of these professors are doing amazing things in the fields they are studying. . ”

As Laurentian maneuvers the insolvency process, job and program cuts are the most astonishing development to date, the result of a vote by the University Senate last week that is aimed at helping university restructuring operations in financial difficulty.

Laurentian’s legal proceedings under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) began on February 1. The insolvency process provides protection for creditors, so that organizations can continue to operate while undergoing changes to regain their financial footing.

Staff, faculty and students are mourning dozens of job losses and program cuts at Laurentian University. (Yvon Theriault / Radio Canada)

Read the list of program cuts here

“I have friends and colleagues whose lives are destroyed. It’s brutal, ”said Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde, professor in the department of biology and holder of a Canada research chair.

“I have to get back to work, and how am I going to handle the work for an administration that has implemented this obviously inhuman and cruel plan?” It’s very difficult. “

The biology department is not part of the School of the Environment, which was closed, but the interrupted ecology and restoration biology programs are in the department where Schulte-Hostedde works.

Albrecht Shulte-Hostedde, Canada Research Chair in Applied Evolutionary Ecology at Laurentian University, called the staff and program cuts “grossly inhuman and cruel.” (Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde)

“The whole legacy of Sudbury regreening has been shattered,” said Schulte-Hostedde. “The university uses its expertise in environmental science and environmental studies in its marketing. Its strategic plan highlights our expertise and productivity in these areas. She destroyed the whole school of the environment. “

“I am deeply concerned for my colleagues and friends. I am concerned about the mental health of all the people who have endured this inhuman process that we have been asked to go through, ”he said.

“All the aspects of what made Laurentian unique – it is the aboriginal character, the francophone programs – all of that has disappeared. “

Losing university programs will ‘hurt’, says professor

The money will also go into Greater Sudbury’s economy, which Laurentian economics professor David Robinson said will cost tens of millions of dollars when teachers and students leave the community.

Following the cuts, professional programs remained intact.

“Which is sort of appropriate for the city; that’s the right general direction, ”said Robinson.

“It is the great mining town of Canada. Is not it? It is the mining university of Ontario. And I see they haven’t cut that part of the university. “

Laurentian economics professor David Robinson says the cuts will have “a whole bunch of cascading effects,” including on the school’s reputation. (Yvon Theriault / CBC)

But most college programs are gone, Robinson said.

“We don’t have a lot of people coming to Sudbury. You really have to face it. When you have a decent arts scene, it is difficult to find partners to move to Sudbury in many cases. So yes, it will hurt a bit.

“There’s a whole bunch of cascading effects. The reputation effect is one of them. It doesn’t look good for a city that was seen as a dirty mining town – and had changed its image to a large extent – to suddenly have its intellectual sector crumble. It doesn’t look good at all. ”

Impact on Indigenous learning

A spokesperson for the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (CTF-Ontario), which represents 350,000 students, said French classes account for the bulk of program cuts and French-speaking students are being targeted .

Nearly 40 programs in French have disappeared, including the practice of midwifery – the only bilingual program of its kind and the only one in the North.

“Laurentian University is one of the most important francophone institutions in the province,” said Sébastien Lalonde, president of SCF-Ontario.

“Francophone students are told that their education, language and culture are not worth saving.”

In a statement, CFS-Ontario also points out that Laurentian’s mandate is tricultural and a hub for Indigenous learning and research. He says the cuts to programs will have serious and negative repercussions on aboriginal language learning and degrees.

“These groundbreaking programs have made significant contributions to the sovereignty, self-determination and decolonization of indigenous peoples through research and an expansive curriculum,” the statement said.

“These cuts go against the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action # 16:” We call on post-secondary institutions to create university and college degree and diploma programs in indigenous languages ​​”.

According to CFS-Ontario, the CCAA process “was never intended for use by public sector institutions.”

“It is unacceptable that students, who have invested so much in their education, are affected by financial challenges created by reckless administrative decisions and the erosion of funding for public universities,” said Kayla Weiler, national representative of the leadership of the CFS-Ontario.

“The Laurentian-made crisis could be stopped at any time by the Ontario government. Budget 2021 is the third budget in a row with reduced funding for post-secondary education. It’s time to invest in all students no matter where they live in Ontario. ”

Lobby for provincial financial assistance

For its part, the Ontario Confederation of University Teachers’ Associations (OCUFA) is calling for the resignation of Colleges and Universities Minister Ross Romano.

“If Ross Romano had done his job, none of these cuts would have happened,” said OCUFA President Rahul Sapra.

“Romano and the Ford government were aware of the depth of Laurentian’s financial difficulties for months, if not years. They have had many opportunities to take action to avoid this crisis. Instead, they chose to do nothing and betray the trust of Ontarians. “

I urge people to be careful because what happened at Laurentian can happen anywhere.– Katlyn Kotila, eat

OCUFA calls on the province “to invest immediately in Laurentian University to avoid job losses, reverse these harmful cuts, support students and the community of Greater Sudbury and reassure Ontario’s public universities that the government is committed to ensuring their success ”.

For students like Kotila, whose future as a student is now on hold, Monday’s news will be “a nasty stain on Laurentian University for many years to come.”

“We are losing so many amazing academics and in the process we are also going to lose a lot of students who will likely leave and continue their studies elsewhere, now that their program is being phased out,” she said.

“I urge people to pay attention because what happened at Laurentian can happen anywhere. And I hope that will never happen again at any other post-secondary or post-secondary institution.

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