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United we stand/L’union fait la force!

September 25, 2008

Alert readers may remember that on July 14 of this year, the Saint John Senate unanimously passed the following motion:

1. Whereas with the “Action Plan to Transform Post-Secondary Education in New Brunswick” the government of New Brunswick has recognized the wisdom of increasing the autonomy of the community colleges and allowing them to develop a governance model that best suits their needs (Action 11),

This Senate affirms that independence from government control and interference in academic matters is a defining characteristic of a public university, and of academic freedom.

2. This Senate recommends that the senior administration, including the V-P Saint John, work to ensure that any legislative changes to the university acts will not impair university autonomy or the principle of academic freedom. Such work should include the administrations of other N.B. universities, wherever possible.

Further, if the acts are reviewed, Senate expects senior administration to fully engage, from the outset, the University community in this process.

Trendsetters that we are, the UNBF and STU Senates passed similar motions this past week, and one hears that discussions are going on at Mt A and U de M.

This is excellent news. For most of last year, we in Saint John were reminded all too often that many elsewhere regarded the PSE difficulties as “a Saint John issue” (interesting how Edmundston and Shippagan so often slipped off the radar entirely here in the south). However, the “Action Plan,” but more importantly, the widespread shift to attitudes that favour corporate and government control of post-secondary education, are threats to all institutions of higher education in the province, and indeed nationally and internationally.

And as we know, we are stronger together.

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