I have included some highlights of activities with which I’ve been involved over the last month and issues about which TRUFA members should be informed.
In October, along with other Faculty Association presidents from the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE), I met with the Minister of Advanced Education to lobby her on behalf of the post-secondary education system. The Minister, Melanie Mark, told us that she had received a mandate letter from the Premier outlining the government’s goals in relation to post-secondary education and that her responsibility was to fulfil those specific goals. Her Ministry also includes responsibility for administering Trades training and the operations of the Industry Training Authority. Since the July 18th ministerial mandate letter was released, FPSE has been identifying how our system’s key needs can be integrated into the Minister’s mandate goals. Here are the top issues:
|Government Mandate||FPSE Priorities|
|Provide greater access to adult basic education and English-language learning programs by eliminating fees.||Make sufficient funding to institutions to extend the elimination of fees to include Adult Special Education (developmental programs)|
|Reduce the financial burden on students by eliminating interest on BC government loans||Interest rate already reduced to prime; monitor and lobby for full elimination|
|Introduce a new graduate student scholarship fund||Work with Research Universities faculty associations to lobby for this fund.|
|Support co-op, apprenticeship and work-experience programs||Lobby for a comprehensive review of the Industry Training Authority and restore funding to support co-op programs.|
|Work collaboratively and respectfully with First Nations to adopt the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and the Tsilhqot’in Supreme Court decision||Provide the framework and the resources for a faculty-driven plan for indigenizing the curriculum, led by both First Nations and non-indigenous faculty and elders.|
|No Specific Mandate||Undertake a comprehensive review of the current Ministry funding formula for PSE institutions, recognizing the differing mandates and responsibilities of each University and College.|
I met with the TRUSU president and a TRUSU staff member on November 10th to discuss an open letter from TRUSU, which detailed the student union’s efforts to address parking issues on campus. I agreed to distribute this letter to all TRU faculty; the letter includes valuable background information and also an apology from TRUSU for unintentionally allowing TRU administration to cherry-pick TRUSU ideas and choose only those that were already in their own financial interests. The result: worse parking conditions for students and for faculty. If you have comments on the letter or suggestions on how TRUFA can work toward a fairer parking system that meets all faculty needs, please contact me. Faculty have contacted me about several main categories of concern:
While TRUFA has raised these issues repeatedly at the TRU/TRUFA Consultative Committee, we have not received any positive responses. What TRUFA and CUPE and TRUSU all want on behalf of our members is a comprehensive, consultative approach to parking decisions, not top-down decisions made by the VP Finance and Administration.
The last two scheduled meetings of this important committee have been postponed—October 18th and November 15th. We hope to meet again either on December 6th or 13th to discuss the following issues:
After a series of very successful events at the Labour Day picnic, the TRU Welcome Back BBQ, the TRUFA faculty BBQ, and cake/cupcake outreach in Student Street and in Williams Lake, the TRUFA Communications Committee gathered over 1,000 petitions signed by faculty, staff, students and community members calling on the provincial government to recognize TRU’s new mandate as a university through a revised funding formula (which ties in to FPSE’s priority on a review of the Ministry’s funding).
On Friday, November 10th, I presented background information and photocopies of the petitions to Peter Milobar, the MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson. Mr Milobar is well versed on the fact that TRU is underfunded compared to other institutions with our educational mandate and our regional responsibilities. In the New Year, I will be meeting with Todd Stone, the MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson and giving him a similar message with our petitions.
FPSE Presidents’ Council has authorized the funding of campaigns initiated by FPSE locals to a maximum of $5,000 for this current year. As a result, the TRUFA Communications Committee will be able to continue this important advocacy work with additional campus and community outreach.
On November 30th and December 1st, Star Mahara and I will be travelling to WL to meet with individual faculty members and with the WL Faculty Council to discuss issues related to their campus and their region. In addition, Star and I will have the opportunity to meet with Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett and discuss the importance of the TRU Williams Lake campus to the region.
VP Star Mahara and I – along with TRU FEDSW Senator and ESL department Chair Dian Henderson—attended an FPSE conference on Saturday, November 18th focusing on governance issues. In my next report, I will be able to provide full details of the discussions and—most importantly—suggestions on how faculty can better exercise their authority within the governance bodies of the University.
Submitted in solidarity,
Tom Friedman, TRUFA President