Saturday, July 28, 2007

Doing the splits

I haven't commented before now on the provincial government's decision to split Memorial University of Newfoundland and Wilfred Grenfell College because I kept feeling like I was missing part of the equation. As if there was more information that I wasn't getting and I wanted to have that before commenting.

Besides, the two main sides in this debate are two organizations I haven't agreed with much. Not agreeing with Premier Danny Williams and his government's decisions is a more recent thing. But I have a long history of not agreeing with MUN that goes back until at least 1988. Hell, some of the best traffic this blog has ever seen came from my horror over MUN's new logo last year.

Still, one wants to leave MUN whole, the other wants to split it. One of them has to be wrong.

But here's the thing, I haven't read a really convincing argument to split Grenfell and MUN. Oh sure, there's the grumbling about being run from St. John's and not having enough say in how Grenfell is run. But that's hardly cause to split the two in half.

And even in this CBC story the provincial government is still not offering any solid reasons on why this should happen, other than they say it's going to happen. Which doesn't strike me as being a particularly good reason for doing something.

Meanwhile, The Telegram unleashes a really solid editorial showing why this is a remarkably short-sighted and stupid idea (kudos to the editorial writer, by the way. Perhaps it's my imagination but the Telly's editorial writing has been especially good in recent months). That it would produce an unnecessary duplication in bureaucracy, that it will cost a lot more money, that it will harm both the St. John's and Corner Brook campuses at a time when it's becoming harder and harder to draw students.

Really, anyone can see this is the government trying to suck up to the Corner Brook area during a provincial election. It would strike me as a fairly obvious ploy. But then again, Williams and his government haven't been exactly subtle in their vote buying this summer. I can see how you might get numbed after being sledgehammered that often. I guess the government believes if you're not an idiot yet, then you will be after they've repeatedly smacked you in the head with all of these partisan spending announcements.

Thank god I'll only be home for two weeks of this madness. A concentrated burst of it might drive me mad.

But anyway, I'm agreeing with MUN on this one. I'm trying to recall how often that's happened. I'm not sure I'll be needing my second hand to assist with the counting...


North of Nain said...

You make it sound as though this issue has just arisen and is linked directly to a potential election. This issue has been on going since at least 1999 if not long before that.

Perhaps because you never worked for SWGC (by the way it is SIR ...)that you do not understand the frustrations of working under the St. John's campus or the inabilbity to really get the issues that SWGC has taken care of from afar.

Grenfell would certainly benefit and grown from being allowed out from under the shirt tails of the main campus. The identity of Grenfell remains hidden and is only trotted out by those in St. John's when they see a benefit to themselves.

The differences in the two campuses for staff and faculty are huge. Tell me why at SWGC I was paid less than my St. John's counterparts to doing EXACTLY the same job. Why? Because the people in St. John's felt that because it is a smaller campus there is less work?!

I fully support Grenfell's wish to break free from the bonds. As far as attracting students, Grenfell will have no issues, it's a different market that it seeks. Given the choice I would rather attend the campus in Corner Brook at get away from the ignorant townie bastards living in St. John's who seem to think they know what is best for those on the West Coast of the province even though they have never lived there.

towniebastard said...

Hmmmm, three points in response then...

1. I said I've been hesitant on this issue. A well reasoned argument might have persuaded me to change my mind. But hey if venting and sniping helps you feel better about what sounds like a pretty crappy experience Grenfell, more power to you. Just don't expect me to change my mind based on what you said and how you said it.

2. You either didn't read or choose to ignore the points in The Telegram editorial. That this will cost the people of the province millions extra each year. That student recruitment both inside and outside the province is only going to become more challenging and that fund-raising will be more difficult.

All of this essentially so Grenfell can feel better about itself and so the Premier can score some political points on the west coast. I remain unimpressed with the idea

3. Again you missed a key point. that being I normally disagree with MUN. I ran for the Board of Regents two years ago (and likely will again next year) because I so frequently disagree with the way MUN is run.

So if St. John's is treating Grenfell crappy, then that's cause to work hard at getting the west coast campus treated better. And if you were getting paid less than a counterpart in SJ, then that's wrong, but a separate university wouldn't have necessarily have fixed that or many of the other problems (for the record, if you were unionized, then the head of your union was an idiot).

There's no problem at Grenfell that can't be fixed by better administration. And that comes from MUN SJ doing their job better rather than a separate university.

Mireille Sampson said...

I'm going to take a stab at one possible reason staff at SWGC get paid less: it costs less to live in Corner Brook. There likely are other reasons that are discrimination/unfair as well.

The cost of living is something I'm amazed more people don't seem to take into account when they leave the province for Alberta. Yeah, it pays more there, but check out the price of a house...the cost of almost everything is also going to be comparatively higher. Fine if you can't get a job here, but there are fields of employment that are in need of people.

Sheena said...

I just hope that somewhere in between all the old guys in suits yelling at each other, someone considers this from a student perspective.

North of Nain said...

Well excuse me for not being a journalist and getting my point across to you in a more articulate way.

If you were really going to show the true story I would think you would drag up some of your old contacts and get the SWGC opinion and facts instead of buying into the St. John's and MUN party line.

Oh, and no, I was not unionized and yes, I understand the cost of living in different places dictates salary. I live in don't have to explain it to me.

Anonymous said...

the telegram editorial was very weak. People seem to think this is a split from MUN, which it is not, and people also forget Grenfell already exists, there is no creating a new university from scratch. The stories relating to the extra costs that have been in the media are misleading. Many of the costs are "start-up" costs, that will be gove after a a year or two. The numbers are also based on students doing 8 courses a year, instead of 10. Taking this into consideration, the price drops per student. Also, an increased student population (which should happen when it is marketed as a university as opposed to a college), and Research and Development spinoffs will also reduce the costs.

If you want a compelling argument on why Grenfell needs MORE AUTONOMY, and NOT A SPLIT from Memorial, read Adrian Fowler's letter to the editor in today's telegram.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and one more thing regarding looking for votes in the corner brook district. I understand this criticism, it is only natural to be skeptical of politicians, but....

A) Aren't politician supposed to be doing things for their districts?

B) It's not like these guys need to boost their popularity. Williams is hovering around 70% in the polls. His seat is safe. I don't think this is about politics. I think it's about doing something positive for a region that has seen some obstacles over the decades from MUN's governance structure.