Transcript: Assessing Laurentian University's Deep Cuts | Apr 19, 2021

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length straight brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a gray blazer over a green turtleneck shirt.

A caption on screen reads "Assessing Laurentian University's deep cuts. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says IN FEBRUARY, LAURENTIAN UNIVERSITY IN SUDBURY MADE A STUNNING ANNOUNCEMENT. DUE TO WHAT THEY DESCRIBED AS "UNPRECEDENTED FINANCIAL CHALLENGES," THE SCHOOL APPLIED FOR CREDITOR PROTECTION. LAST WEEK, THE TANGIBLE RESULTS OF THAT BECAME CLEAR, AS DEEP CUTS TO PROGRAMS AND STAFF WERE MADE PUBLIC. WITH US NOW FOR MORE: IN SUDBURY: NADIA VERRELLI, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AT LAURENTIAN UNIVERSITY...

Nadia is in her forties, with long straight brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a black sweater.

Nam continues IN NORTH BAY: GYLLIAN PHILLIPS, PROFESSOR AT NIPISSING UNIVERSITY AND PAST PRESIDENT OF THE ONTARIO CONFEDERATION OF UNIVERSITY FACULTY ASSOCIATIONS...

Gyllian is in her forties, with long curly blond hair. She's wearing glasses and a beige sweater.

Nam continues AND HERE IN THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL: SÉBASTIEN LALONDE, CHAIR OF THE CANADIAN FEDERATION OF STUDENTS ONTARIO.

Sébastien is in his twenties, with wavy brown hair and a full beard. He's wearing a red t-shirt.

Nam continues HI TO EVERYONE. IT'S VERY NICE TO MEET YOU. THANKS FOR BEING ON THE SHOW.

Gyllian says THANK YOU.

Nam says BEFORE WE START, IN THE INTERESTS OF FULL DISCLOSURE, WE WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW THAT, STEVE ISN'T DOING THIS INTERVIEW TONIGHT BECAUSE FOR THE PAST EIGHT YEARS, HE'S BEEN THE CHANCELLOR OF LAURENTIAN UNIVERSITY. THE CHANCELLORSHIP IS A CEREMONIAL POSITION. HE PRESIDED OVER CONVOCATIONS AND SPECIAL EVENTS, BUT HAD NO SO, GIVEN THE CURRENT SITUATION AT LAURENTIAN, HE DECIDED TO STEP DOWN AS CHANCELLOR A WEEK AGO. JUST THOUGHT YOU ALL SHOULD KNOW THAT AND JUST TO PUT THAT ON THE PUBLIC RECORD, SO TO SPEAK. SO AS OF LAST WEEK, MORE THAN 100 FACULTY MEMBERS WERE LAID OFF, AND MORE THAN 60 PROGRAMS WERE ELIMINATED. I WANTED TO GET AN IDEA FROM THE THREE OF YOU ON YOUR REACTION TO THIS, AND AS IS OUR TRADITION, WE USUALLY START FROM THE FURTHEST TO THE CLOSEST, SO NADIA, I'LL START WITH YOU.

The caption changes to "Nadia Verrelli. Laurentian University."
Then, it changes again to "Insolvency and layoffs."

Nadia says HI. WELL, AS YOU MENTIONED, ON APRIS WERE LAID OFF, AND I BELIEVE IT'S 40 SUPPORT STAFF WERE ALSO LAID OFF. AND THEN WE FOUND OUT THAT 69 PROGRAMS WERE CANCELLED, 58 OF WHICH WERE UNDERGRAD, 11 GRAD PROGRAMS. OF THE PROGRAMS, THE UNDERGRAD PROGRAMS, 24 WERE FRENCH LANGUAGE PROGRAMS, AND THE OTHER WERE ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROGRAMS.

Nam says THAT IS SHOCKING. GYLLIAN, WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO THAT NEWS?

The caption changes to "Gyllian Phillips. Nipissing University."

Gyllian says WELL, DEVASTATING, OF COURSE. YOU KNOW, I JUST HAVE TO SAY THAT ALL OF THIS COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED.

Nam says HOW?

Gyllian says WELL, IF MINISTER ROMANO AND THE FORD GOVERNMENT HAD STEPPED IN. HONESTLY, WE ARE PUTTING MINISTER ROMANO AT THE CENTRE OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE PROGRAM CUTS, FOR THE JOB LOSSES, AND FOR THE DEVASTATION TO THE COMMUNITY OF SUDBURY. THE FAILURE OF THIS GOVERNMENT TO STEP IN AND SUPPORT LAURENTIAN IS REALLY A FAILURE TO SUPPORT EDUCATION IN THE NORTH.

Nam says AND MINISTER ROMANO, ROSS ROMANO IS THE MINISTER OF TRAINING, COLLEGES, AND UNIVERSITIES AND ALSO AN MPP FOR SAULT STE. MARIE. SÉBASTIEN, WHAT IS YOUR REACTION?

The caption changes to "Sébastien Lalonde. Canadian Federation of Students, Ontario."

Sébastien says I THINK IT WAS QUITE SIMILAR, RIGHT? QUITE DEVASTATING. QUITE SHOCKING. HOWEVER, WE ARE ALSO AWARE THAT THERE WAS SOME FINANCIAL ISSUES HAPPENING AT LAURENTIAN UNIVERSITY FOR MONTHS NOW, AND SO I VERY MUCH ECHO THE FACT THAT IT'S THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE MINISTER AND THE MINISTRY OF COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES TO STEP IN TO MAKE SURE THAT OUR INSTITUTIONS ARE PROPERLY FUNDED, AND THEY FAILED IN THAT AND INSTEAD ALLOWED THIS INSTITUTION, A PUBLICLY FUNDED INSTITUTION, TO DEPEND ON A PROCESS THAT IS USUALLY RESERVED FOR CORPORATE ENTITIES.

Nam says BECAUSE MINISTER ROMANO IS NOT HERE TO MAYBE DEFEND HIS POSITION, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE BEEN HEARING THAT THIS PROBLEM DIDN'T JUST HAPPEN THIS YEAR. IT'S SOMETHING THAT'S BEEN IN THE MAKING FOR A WHILE. THE UNIVERSITY ITSELF, LAURENTIAN CITES DEBT, A TUITION FREEZE, AND OF COURSE THE PANDEMIC AS PARTIALLY TO BLAME. GYLLIAN, WHAT DOES THEIR SITUATION MEAN FOR THE WAY ONTARIO UNIVERSITIES ARE FUNDED MOVING FORWARD?

Gyllian says WELL, THEIR SITUATION IS COMPLEX AND IT HAS A LONG-TERM CAUSE AND A SHORT-TERM CAUSE. THE LONG-TERM CAUSE IS YEAR AFTER YEAR, FOR OVER A DECADE OF UNDERFUNDING OF ONTARIO UNIVERSITIES. AND THAT HAS CAUSED... PUSHED MANY UNIVERSITIES INTO SEEKING OTHER FORMS OF REVENUE AND INTO FINANCIALLY PRECARIOUS DECISION-MAKING.

Nam says LIKE WHAT? CAN YOU GIVE US AN EXAMPLE OF THAT?

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Gyllian says WELL, I THINK ONE OF THE ISSUES THAT MAY COME UP LATER IS THE OVERRELIANCE ON INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS TO MAKE UP THE LOSS OF REVENUE. BUT ALSO WE HAVE... THE CONSEQUENCES FOR UNIVERSITIES AND FOR EDUCATION, WE HAVE THE LOWEST PER STUDENT FUNDING IN CANADA IN ONTARIO. WE HAVE THE HIGHEST FACULTY TO STUDENT RATIO, SO OUR CLASSES ARE THE BIGGEST. AND WE HAVE A VERY PROFOUND AND INCREASING RELIANCE ON CONTRACT FACULTY TO DO THE TEACHING. OVER 50 percent OF OUR COURSES IN ONTARIO ARE TAUGHT BY FOLKS WHO ARE EMPLOYED ON LOW WAGE, TEMPORARY CONTRACTS, OFTEN WITH LITTLE BENEFITS AND NO JOB SECURITY AND DON'T TAKE AN ACTIVE ROLE IN UNIVERSITY GOVERNANCE OR SUPPORTED TEACHER RESEARCH. AND ALL OF THAT IS JUST ERODING THE ACADEMIC QUALITY OF ALL OUR INSTITUTIONS. BUT I DO THINK THE NORTHERN INSTITUTIONS ARE ESPECIALLY VULNERABLE TO ALL OF THESE FACTORS. AND FOR LAURENTIAN, ADD TO THAT THE 10 percent TUITION CUT, THE INCREDIBLY RECKLESS FUNDING MODEL WHICH PUTS 50 percent BROUGHT IN BY THE FORD GOVERNMENT, WHICH PUTS 60 percent OF GOVERNMENT FUNDING AT UNIVERSITIES AT RISK, 3 BILLION DOLLARS. AND THEN DUMPS THE COVID PANDEMIC ON TOP OF THAT, AND IT'S NOT SURPRISING THAT A UNIVERSITY WOULD BE SUFFERING. HOWEVER, I TAKE THE POINT OF THE OTHER GUEST AS WELL THAT THERE IS CLEARLY SOME MISMANAGEMENT AT THE UNIVERSITY ITSELF. HOWEVER, WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT WAS BECAUSE THE ENTIRE UNIVERSITY FINANCES HAVE BEEN CLOAKED IN SECRECY AND WHOLE HAS THIS WHOLE CREDITOR PROTECTION BEEN CLOAKED IN SECRECY.

Nam says SÉBASTIEN, I BRING YOU IN BECAUSE I THINK THAT WAS THE POINT YOU MADE; RIGHT?

Sébastien says IMPACTLY THAT, RIGHT? THERE'S A LACK OF CONSULTATION WITH THE COMMUNITY AND WHAT CAN SAVE STUDENTS' DEGREES, ENSURE JOBS ARE SAFE, AND THERE'S A CONTINUATION OF INVESTMENT IN NORTHERN EDUCATION IN ONTARIO AS A WHOLE. AND UNFORTUNATELY THAT'S NOT WHAT WE'RE SEEING AND IN FACT WE'RE SEEING A GOVERNMENT, WHICH IS ESSENTIALLY APATHETIC TO THESE VERY SEVERE CUTS AND WHAT THIS IS GOING TO MEAN FOR THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY, THE STUDENT, STAFF, AND THE FACULTY.

Nam says NADIA, I WANT TO BRING YOU IN. I DON'T WANT TO PUT YOU ON THE SPOT BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO SHOULDER IT ON YOU. BUT I'M CURIOUS TO KNOW, IS THERE A WHY WE THINK THIS IS HAPPENING TO LAURENTIAN?

Nadia says WHY THE MAJOR RESTRUCTURING OR WHY THE...

Nam says BECAUSE FROM WHAT GYLLIAN WAS SAYING, IT SOUNDS AS IF THE UNIVERSITY WAS ALREADY BEING TREATED UNFAIRLY, SO TO SPEAK?

Nadia says WELL, I THINK SHE RAISES GOOD POINTS. THEY'RE ALL POINTS WE'RE FACING AS SMALL UNIVERSITIES. THE 10 percent WAGE REDUCTION, THE TUITION FREEZE, THE REDUCED FUNDING HAS LED SMALLER UNIVERSITIES IN SMALL TOWNS TO FACE FINANCIAL CHALLENGES UNFORESEEN. AND THIS IS YEARS OF UNDERFUNDING. WITH REGARDS TO THE CCAA PROCESS AND THE RESTRUCTURING, I ECHO THE OTHER GUESTS. YES, HAS THERE BEEN MISMANAGEMENT AT LAURENTIAN? FROM MY UNDERSTANDING, THERE HAS BEEN. IF ANYONE READS THE COURT PAPERS. WHERE EXACTLY WE'RE NOT ENTIRELY SURE. DID LAURENTIAN NEED TO BE RESTRUCTURED? OF COURSE IT DID. ANY UNIVERSITY FACES RESTRUCTURING FROM TIME TO TIME. BUT WE HAVE A PROCESS IN PLACE, AS DOES EVERY UNIVERSITY, TO RESTRUCTURE ACADEMIC PROGRAMS. AND THE CCAA IS NOT THE WAY TO RESTRUCTURE PROGRAMS. AND IF YOU LOOK AT THE LIST OF PROGRAMS THAT WERE CUT, IT'S EVIDENT THAT THERE WAS NO REAL CONSIDERATION IN THE TYPES OF PROGRAMS THAT WE'RE OFFERING OR HOW THESE PROGRAMS SERVICE THE COMMUNITY, PROVIDED PATHWAYS TO IMMIGRATION, PATHWAYS TO THE JOB MARKET. RATHER, FROM MY UNDERSTANDING OR FROM WHAT I'M SURMISING WITH THE CUT, IT CAME DOWN TO WHICH PROGRAMS WERE PROFITABLE. AND PUBLIC EDUCATION, SECONDARY EDUCATION... OR POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION IS NOT JUST ABOUT MAKING MONEY. IT'S ABOUT BUILDING NETWORKS, BUILDING NETWORKS FOR THE COMMUNITY, OF THE COMMUNITY. IT'S ABOUT PROVIDING STUDENTS WITH OPPORTUNITIES THEY WOULDN'T OTHERWISE HAVE. IT'S ABOUT WORKING WITH THE COMMUNITY.

Nam says I WANT TO GET MORE INTO THAT IN A LITTLE BIT. BUT BECAUSE RIGHT NOW THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT HASN'T STEPPED IN, AND, NADIA, I WANTED TO GET YOUR SENSE, SHOULD THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT STEP IN?

Nadia says THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT? OF COURSE. I PERFECTLY UNDERSTAND THAT EDUCATION IS A PROVINCIAL JURISDICTION. HOWEVER, WE ALL KNOW THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, THROUGH ITS FEDERAL TRANSFER POWER, THROUGH TRANSFER TO SOCIAL PROGRAMS, DOES PROVIDE FUNDING FOR EDUCATION. AND, YES, AND I KNOW THIS IS COMING UP LATER, BUT LAURENTIAN HAS THE UNIQUE MANDATE OFTY CULTURALISM AND BILINGUALISM. THESE ARE CORE VALUES OF CANADA. YOU KNOW, OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS COMMITTED TO BILINGUALISM. OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS COMMITTED TO RECONCILIATION. AND THIS IS WHAT LAURENTIAN IS DOING AT THE UNIVERSITY. SO I DID EXPECT, I DID HOPE THAT THEY WOULD STEP IN AND, YES, THEY NEED TO STEP IN.

Nam says IN FEBRUARY, THE HIGHER EDUCATION STRATEGIES SPOKE TO ME ABOUT LAURENTIAN'S APPROACH TO INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS. LET'S WATCH THE CLIP. SHELDON, PLEASE ROLL.

A clip plays on screen with the caption "February 5, 2021. Alex Usher."
In the clip, Alex speaks on screen. He's in his fifties, with short gray hair and a stubble.

He says I THINK THE OTHER THING IS THEY'VE CHOSEN NOT TO GO AFTER INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS. MOST UNIVERSITIES IN ONTARIO HAVE BROUGHT IN A LOT OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS OVER THE LAST SIX, SEVEN YEARS. YOU KNOW, I THINK IF LAURENTIAN HAD DONE THE SAME, AT THE SAME KIND OF RATE AS OTHER INSTITUTIONS IN THE PROVINCE, THEY'D HAVE HAD AN EXTRA 8 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR, IN 2018-2019, 2019-2020. THAT WOULD HAVE CAUSED THIS WHOLE PROBLEM TO GO AWAY. ARE THERE ENROLMENT PROBLEMS? YEAH. I THINK THEY'RE OF LAURENTIAN'S OWN MAKING. IT'S NOT HAPPENING TO THEM BECAUSE OF DEMOGRAPHICS.

The clip ends.

Nam says I MEAN, RIGHT NOW, BECAUSE OF THE PANDEMIC, YOU KNOW, HAVING INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS MIGHT BE ONE OF A SERIES OF STRATEGIES, BUT, SÉBASTIEN, I JUST WANTED TO ASK YOU: HOW IMPORTANT IS A PROGRAM LIKE THAT TO A UNIVERSITY LIKE LAURENTIAN?

Sébastien says YEAH. I HAVE TO BE HONEST, THIS DISCUSSION OFTENTIMES I THINK DERAILS WHERE THE FOCUS REALLY SHOULD BE. IT'S RATHER DISINGENUOUS TO SAY THAT. STUDENTS ARE SPENDING TWO, THREE, FOUR TIMES THAT OF DOMESTIC STUDENTS. AND DURING A PANDEMIC, DON'T EVEN HAVE ACCESS TO THE BASIC ONTARIO HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN AND ARE FORCED INTO PRIVATE COMPANIES. THIS PROVINCE HAS A LONG HISTORY OF USING INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AS CASH COWS TO SUPPORT ITS POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION SYSTEM, WHEN THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT HAS THE CAPACITY AND YET LACK OF WILL TO SEE EDUCATION AS A PUBLIC GOOD AND TO FUND IT DIRECTLY BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT IT IS BETTER FOR SOCIETY AS A WHOLE, THAT WE KNOW THAT A DOLLAR INVESTED IN POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION COMES BACK TO 1.36 dollars IN THE OVERALL PROVINCE. SO WHEN TALKING ABOUT INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AND THE PRACTICES THAT WE'VE ALREADY PUT OUR INSTITUTIONS IN IN TERMS OF HAVING TO COACH THOSE STUDENTS, NO TERMS OF HAVING TO FIND CORPORATE DEALS AND GET FINANCING ELSEWHERE FROM THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT IS AN ATTACK ON OUR INSTITUTIONS' QUALITY OF EDUCATION BUT THEN ALSO ETHICALLY. IT'S JUST NOT MORALLY SOUND. AND SO TO HAVE THIS ARGUMENT AND TO PUT THE FOCUS AWAY FROM THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSIBILITY IS A [INDISCERNIBLE] PRACTICE AND THIS PRACTICE WITH INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS HAS TO END.

Nam says NADIA MENTIONED ABOUT THE TRICULTURAL MANDATE AT LAURENTIAN, AND I THINK IT IS SOMETHING THAT THE SCHOOL PRIDES ITSELF FOR. IT OFFERS ENGLISH, FRENCH, AND INDIGENOUS PROGRAMS. SÉBASTIEN, YOU KNOW, FRENCH PROGRAMS HAVE BEEN HIT HARD. WHAT'S AT STAKE FOR FRANCOPHONE STUDENTS IN THE NORTH?

The caption changes to "A tricultural reputation."

Sébastien says YEAH, FOR SURE. YOU KNOW, I PERSONALLY... I'M FRANCO-ONTARIAN, IT WAS MY FIRST LANGUAGE. I WENT TO YORK UNIVERSITY AND DID MY PROGRAM ENTIRELY IN ENGLISH. THAT'S BECAUSE THE PROGRAMS I WAS LOOKING TO DO TO COMPLETE MY ENTIRE EDUCATION IN FRENCH ISN'T AVAILABLE OR IS AT LEAST VERY, VERY STARK IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO. LAURENTIAN UNIVERSITY WAS ONE OF THE FEW PLACES WHERE YOU COULD GET A FULLY FRANCOPHONE POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION, AND YET AS WE'VE SEEN THAT AND INDIGENOUS STUDIES AND INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE PROGRAMS ARE THE VERY FIRST THINGS TO BE CUT WHEN WE'RE SEEING FINANCIAL CUTBACKS. AND THAT IS A DIRECT ATTACK ON THE FRANCOPHONE COMMUNITY, ON THE INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES, AND ESPECIALLY FOR THE TRICULTURAL NOT ONLY UNIVERSITY BUT A TRICULTURAL COMMUNITY IN SUDBURY.

Nam says I KNOW ALEX USHER, EVEN WHEN HE WAS ON THE SHOW IN FEBRUARY SAID THERE HAD BEEN A LACK OF COMMUNICATION BY THE PRESIDENT OF LAURENTIAN. HE RELEASED A STATEMENT AND I'M JUST GOING TO READ A LITTLE BIT OF THE STATEMENT AND, GYLLIAN, I WANTED TO GET YOUR REACTION. SO HE WRITES...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Laurentian University Statement." The quote reads "While we understand that the termination of the Laurentian Federation has left some students with questions regarding their academic path, solutions are being worked on. For example, Laurentian University will provide approximately 140 students registered in the Indigenous Studies program at the University of Sudbury with access to courses rooted in Indigenous perspectives already on offer, mostly though Laurentian's Faculty of Arts, in a range of disciplines. As part of our commitment to honour and affirm our tricultural mandate, Laurentian is committed to an Indigenous Perspectives program among its academic offerings in addition to its well established Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work and Master of Indigenous Relations programs."
Quoted from Robert Hache, President and Vice-Chancellor. April 15, 2021.

Nam says FIRST QUESTION, GYLLIAN: WHAT IS THE LAURENTIAN FEDERATION?

Gyllian says WELL, THE UNIVERSITIES THAT ARE CONNECTED TO THE FEDERATION AGREEMENTS WITH LAURENTIAN HAVE GROWN UP THROUGH, YOU KNOW, KIND OF AN INDEPENDENT AND IN SOME CASES FAITH-BASED PROCESSES, AND THEY HAVE AGREEMENTS, LEGAL AGREEMENTS AND LONGSTANDING... YOU KNOW, ARRANGEMENTS BETWEEN THE STUDENTS AND LAURENTIAN UNIVERSITY AND THE FEDERATION. AND WHAT'S SHOCKING IS THAT HACHE WOULD COME IN AND JUST CANCEL THESE AGREEMENTS UNILATERALLY AND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CREDITOR PROTECTION PROCESS, WITH NO ACADEMIC CONSULTATION OR CONSIDERATION FOR WHAT IT MIGHT MEAN FOR THE PROGRAMS THAT ARE HOUSED IN THOSE UNIVERSITIES AND FOR THE STUDENTS THAT ARE LEFT HANGING. SO HIS FOCUS ON THE INDIGENOUS STUDIES PROGRAM IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE FOR A TOTAL LACK OF CONSIDERATION, BOTH OF THE UNIVERSITY'S COMMITMENT TO TRC AND ALSO OF ACADEMIC INTEGRITY OVERALL...

Nam says CAN YOU... SORRY. I WAS GOING TO ASK IF YOU COULD CLEAR UP THAT CONFUSION WITH EXACTLY WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE INDIGENOUS STUDIES PROGRAM.

Gyllian says YEAH. AND FRANKLY, WE DON'T KNOW. AND SO I'VE BEEN ASKING AROUND AND TALKING TO FOLKS WHO HAVE MORE KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE WITH THIS THAN I DO, AND I HAVE A COLLEAGUE AT NIPISSING UNIVERSITY WHO IS A NEW FACULTY MEMBER IN OUR INDIGENOUS STUDIES PROGRAM, HE'S A LAURENTIAN GRADUATE, QUITE RECENT, AND HE'S VERY CONNECTED WITH THAT COMMUNITY AND WITH LAURENTIAN. AND I WONDER... HE'S ALLOWED ME TO SHARE HIS WORDS, AND I WONDER IF IT'S OKAY IF I JUST QUOTE A LITTLE BIT FROM A CONVERSATION THAT WE HAD? HE SAID... SORRY, THIS IS DR. TYSON STEWART, WHO WORKS AT NIPISSING, AS I SAID. AND HE SAID: THIS DECISION TERMINATES HIGHLY RESPECTED SCHOLARS WHO TOGETHER OVERSAW ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT STORIED INDIGENOUS STUDIES DEPARTMENTS IN NORTH AMERICA, AND HE SAYS SOME HAVE CALLED IT A BLATANT EXAMPLE OF COLONIALISM. AND THAT REALLY HIGHLIGHTS... TO BE CLEAR, NO ONE ACTUALLY KNOWS WHAT THE FUTURE FOR THESE FACULTY MEMBERS ARE BECAUSE LAURENTIAN DOESN'T HAVE THE POWER TO TERMINATE PEOPLE AT A FEDERATED UNIVERSITY. HOWEVER, I DO KNOW THAT MANY OF THE... AT THE OTHER UNIVERSITIES, SUCH AS THORNLOW, PEOPLE'S CONTRACTS ARE BEING CANCELLED FOR TEACHING CLASSES LIKE... ACROSS THE BOARD. SO ONE OF THE THINGS THAT TYSON HAS SAID THAT HE'S HEARD IS THAT, YOU KNOW, KIND OF THE WRITING IS ON THE WALL. THINGS ARE NOT LOOKING GOOD. AND OF COURSE HACHE'S COMMENTS SUGGEST AS WELL THAT THERE WILL BE NO INDIGENOUS STUDIES PROGRAM. THERE MIGHT BE SOMETHING VAGUELY CALLED INDIGENOUS PERSPECTIVES. BUT I THINK WHAT MY COLLEAGUE, DR. STEWART, IS WONDERING IS: ARE THOSE INDIGENOUS PERSPECTIVES GOING TO BE TAUGHT BY INDIGENOUS SCHOLARS, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE WHO ARE ROOTED IN THE COMMUNITY? AND THE OTHER THING HE POINTS OUT FROM HACHE'S COMMENT IS HIS DISMISSAL OF 140 STUDENTS. IT'S ONLY 140 STUDENTS. YOU KNOW, IT'S A SMALL PROGRAM. THEY'LL BE ABSORBED ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. AND HE SAYS IT WASN'T JUST A PROGRAM LIKE ANY OTHER. IT WAS A THRIVING COMMUNITY OF INDIGENOUS SCHOLARS, STUDENTS, AND LOCALS. SO I THINK THIS REALLY POINTS TO THE FACT THAT UNIVERSITIES ARE SO EMBEDDED AND RESPONSIBLE TO THEIR COMMUNITIES. YOU CAN'T JUST RESTRUCTURE THAT AS IF IT WERE, YOU KNOW, AN AUTO MANUFACTURER.

Nam says WE HAVE ABOUT FIVE MINUTES AND I WANT TO GET IN A FEW MORE QUESTIONS BUT, NADIA, I DID SEE YOU NODDING.

Nadia says I JUST WANT TO POINT OUT HIS COMMITMENT TO THESE STUDENTS FINDING A PATHWAY THROUGH INDIGENOUS... COURSES WITH AN INDIGENOUS PERSPECTIVE. THAT IS DIFFERENT THAN A PROGRAM OF THE INDIGENOUS STUDIES PROGRAM. THE INDIGENOUS STUDIES PROGRAM HERE AT LAURENTIAN IS ONE OF THE OLDEST. IT WAS CREATED OF INDIGENOUS SCHOLARS OF THE COMMUNITY FOR THE COMMUNITY. SO SAYING THAT THEY CAN'T CONTINUE TO TAKE COURSES THROUGH THE FACULTY OF ARTS, IT'S NOT THE SAME. ON GYLLIAN'S POINT ABOUT 140 STUDENTS. IT GOES BEYOND THE 140 STUDENTS. AT LAURENTIAN, THEY HAVE... IN ORDER TO RECEIVE YOUR DEGREE, YOU NEED TO HAVE AT LEAST SIX CREDITS IN INDIGENOUS STUDIES OR A COURSE WITH INDIGENOUS PERSPECTIVE. ALL OF THOSE STUDENTS ARE AFFECTED AS WELL. SO IS A WELL-ROUNDED EDUCATION. AND IF I CAN BRING IT BACK JUST FOR A SECOND ABOUT ALEX USHER'S POINT ABOUT RELYING ON INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS. I THINK IT'S DISINGENUOUS TO SAY LAURENTIAN HAS CHOSEN NOT TO. THAT'S NOT TRUE. HAVE THEY BEEN SUCCESSFUL? NOT AS SUCCESSFUL AS OTHERS UNIVERSITIES. I'M NOT CLEAR ON WHY. IT'S NOT SOMETHING I'VE INVOLVED WITH. HOWEVER, FOCUSING ON LACK OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS TAKES US AWAY FROM THE ISSUES, AND THE ISSUES ARE THE CHRONIC UNDERFUNDING OF PUBLIC EDUCATION. THE ADMINISTRATION AT LAURENTIAN CHOOSING TO GO THROUGH THE CCAA PROCESS TO RESTRUCTURE THE UNIVERSITY AS OPPOSED TO RESPECTING THE COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT THAT HAS PROVISIONS IN THERE TO RESTRUCTURE PROGRAMS.

Nam says SÉBASTIEN, WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT STUDENTS AND YOU ARE REPRESENTING STUDENTS. HOW DOES THIS AFFECT THEIR YEAR AND THEIR DEGREES, WHAT'S HAPPENED?

The caption changes to "Student and Faculty setbacks."

Sébastien says YEAH. I THINK WHAT'S MOST COMPLICATED IS IT REALLY DEPENDS WHAT PROGRAM YOU WERE INITIALLY IN, HOW FAR ALONG IN THAT DEGREE YOU ARE. BECAUSE NOW WE HAVE STUDENTS WHO HAVE REACHED OUT AND ESSENTIALLY TOLD US THEY HAD THREE EXAMS WITHIN ONE DAY BECAUSE THEY HAD TO DO THAT BEFORE THE PROFESSORS WERE GOING TO ESSENTIALLY BE FIRED THREE DAYS AFTER, RIGHT? SO IN TERMS OF THE IMMEDIATE, IT'S A LOT OF ANXIETY. IT'S A LOT OF LACK OF FOCUS AND BEING ABLE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS THAT YOUR NEXT YEARS IN THIS DEGREE ARE GOING TO LOOK LIKE. AND THE THING THAT I ALSO WANT TO HIGHLIGHT AND THAT A LOT OF STUDENTS HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT IS THIS DOESN'T ONLY AFFECT THE PROGRAMS FOR STUDENTS WHO THESE ARE THEIR MAJORS. THIS REALLY SPEAKS TO THE PLETHORA OF, THE VARIETY, AND THE DIVERSITY OF COURSES THAT STUDENTS ARE ABLE TO TAKE. MEANING THOSE ELECTIVE COURSES FROM THOSE DEPARTMENTS WHICH PRIOR WOULD HAVE BEEN REQUIREMENTS FOR THESE STUDENTS ARE NO LONGER GOING TO BE AVAILABLE, MEANING THAT THE DIVERSITY AND THE QUALITY OF THE EDUCATION THAT THESE STUDENTS ARE RECEIVING IS ESSENTIALLY LEFT ASIDE AND NOT CONSIDERED, LEAVING STUDENTS WITH MORE ANXIETY ABOUT THEIR DEGREES OR HAVING TO MOVE AND RELOCATE TO BE ABLE TO FINISH THOSE DEGREES THEMSELVES.

Nam says THERE'S A LOT OF ANXIETY, NADIA, FOR THE STUDENTS AND FACULTY WHO HAVE BEEN LAID OFF. THERE IS A PANDEMIC. WHAT ARE THE PROSPECTS FOR YOU AND OTHER PROFESSORS THAT HAVE BEEN LAID OFF?

Nadia says OH, WOW. WELL, ANY ONE OF US WHO WANT TO CONTINUE IN ACADEMIA WILL HAVE TO LEAVE SUDBURY, BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER UNIVERSITY. WE DO NOT KNOW THE FATE OF THE FEDERATED UNIVERSITIES. I KNOW THORNLOW AND THE U OF S, UNIVERSITY OF SUDBURY ARE NOT CHALLENGING THAT DECISION. IF WE WANT TO CONTINUE ON IN ACADEMIA, OF COURSE, WE HAVE TO LEAVE THE CITY. THE SAME IS TRUE WITH STUDENTS. THIS IDEA THAT THEY CAN CONTINUE ON AT LAURENTIAN... WELL, THEY CAN CONTINUE ON, BUT NOT IN THEIR DEGREE OF CHOICE. CUTS HAVE MINIMIZED THEIR OPTIONS AT LAURENTIAN, AND TO STUDY AT HOME. AS WELL, IT MINIMIZES THE CHOICES FOR FUTURE STUDENTS. SO IT DOES CUT OFF PATHWAYS TO EDUCATION, PATHWAYS TO CAREERS, TO LIVE AND WORK IN YOUR LANGUAGE, NEAR YOUR COMMUNITY. SO THE IMPACT IS NOT JUST FACULTY. THERE WILL BE A HUGE IMPACT ON STUDENTS THAT GO BEYOND THIS TERM.

Nam says WE HAVE ONE MORE MINUTE, GYLLIAN, AND I'LL GIVE IT TO YOU. ONE REPORT ESTIMATES THAT UP TO 100 MILLION DOLLARS WILL BE LOST TO SUDBURY, THE COMMUNITY ITSELF. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR SUDBURY AND THE NORTHERN ONTARIO UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY WHEN STUDENTS AND FACULTY HAVE TO LEAVE?

The caption changes to "Keeping talent in the North."

Gyllian says YEAH, IT'S DEVASTATING FOR NORTHERN COMMUNITIES. YOU KNOW, IN NORTH BAY AND SUDBURY, THIS UNIVERSITY IS THE THIRD LARGEST EMPLOYER IN TOWN. SO WHEN IT LAYS OFF HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE, IT HAS A CATASTROPHIC EFFECT FOR THE ECONOMY, YOU KNOW, MORTGAGES, TAXES, YOU NAME IT. BUT ALSO A PROFOUND EFFECT ON THE SOCIAL IMPACTS ON THE COMMUNITY AS WELL. I MEAN, THIS IS A HUGE BRAIN DRAIN FROM THE NORTH. AS NADIA SAYS, PEOPLE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO LEAVE. STUDENTS ARE GOING TO LEAVE. AND THAT MEANS A LOSS OF COMMITTED COMMUNITY MEMBERS WHO ARE INVOLVED IN EVERY PART OF SUDBURY'S LIFE, AND IT WILL JUST LEAVE THE COMMUNITY POORER IN EVERY WAY.

Nam says WE REALLY APPRECIATE ALL OF YOU... NADIA, I'LL GIVE YOU 10 SECONDS.

Nadia says JUST TO ADD TO THAT. THE PROGRAMS THAT WERE CUT HAVE AFFECTED AND WILL AFFECT THE COMMUNITY. SO LAURENTIAN HAS BEEN KEY IN THE RETRAINING OF SUDBURY. THE STUDENT'S ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES IS GONE. THE MIDWIFERY PROGRAM, THE ONLY BILINGUAL MIDWIFERY PROGRAM IN CANADA AND THE NORTH THAT SERVICED THE COMMUNITY IN MEANINGFUL WAYS. THAT'S GONE. SO IT WILL HAVE A HUGE IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY AND THE SERVICES THAT WE'RE ABLE TO PROVIDE IN THE COMMUNITY.

The caption changes to "Produced by: Carla Lucchetta, @carrletta."

Nam says WE ALL APPRECIATE YOUR TIME SO MUCH, AND WE WILL BE THINKING OF YOU AND THE COMMUNITY THERE. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL YOUR INSIGHTS. TAKE GOOD CARE.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

The guests say THANK YOU.

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