As is made clear in our news release below, MUFA has a two pronged approach to the Days of Protest. One prong involves an educational campaign directed at the delegates to the Progressive Conservative Conference in Hamilton, while the other prong involves joining the marches organized for the 23rd and 24th.
February 21, 1996
Concerned about the impact of the PC government’s cutbacks on higher education, the McMaster University Faculty Association is encouraging its members to participate in the “Hamilton Days of Action” protest on February 23 and 24.
At the same time, it has decided to send a delegate to the Ontario PC conference which is the focus of the protest. Dr. William Smyth, chair of the department of computer science, will distribute to other delegates a leaflet advocating quality university education and research, and financial accessibility to universities. He will also participate in discussions on educational policy.
Faculty Association executive members will also try to meet with Conservative MPPs to inform them of the professors’ concerns that Ontario’s young people are able to get a good university education.
The Faculty Association leaflet portrays universities as an investment. They give students an opportunity for intellectual and cultural development, the leaflet says, and produce an educated workforce which has a low unemployment rate and helps the economy to thrive. The leaflet cites the latest Statistics Canada figures showing an unemployment rate in Ontario of 3.8% for university graduates and 9.0% for the rest of the workforce.
It also highlights universities’ contributions to the growth and preservation of human knowledge. University-based research, it asserts, is a source of new ideas and discoveries which foster technological development and help create jobs. As an indication of the stature of Ontario’s university-based research, it points out that two Ontario university professors have won the Nobel prize in the last 10 years, one in physics, the other in chemistry.
Ontario’s universities, the leaflet points out, are already highly efficient. Ontario now ranks eighth among the 10 provinces in government operating grants per university student, and dead last (10th) in government operating grants per capita. A graph in the leaflet shows that, in the past 15 years, Ontario’s universities and colleges have got less money per “client served” (in constant dollars) while other sectors in Ontario got more, as much as 80% more in the case of hospitals. As a result, the ratio of students to professors in Ontario’s universities has soared from 14 to over 19, and average undergraduate class sizes are over 100 in some departments. That has meant, the leaflet claims, less individual attention for students, a bigger instructional burden for professors, and less time for the research that can lead to productivity growth and more jobs.
For further information: Dr. Henry Jacek, President, McMaster University Faculty Association, 905-525-9140, ext. 24682