MUN should be lauded, not hob­bled

Northern Pen - - EDITORIAL -

Me­mo­rial Univer­sity is ar­guably the great­est sin­gle ac­com­plish­ment of suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments of this prov­ince go­ing back to the days of Joey Smallwood. In­deed, many New­found­lan­ders — my­self in­cluded — owe much of our col­lec­tive suc­cess and the life­style so many of us en­joy to the ed­u­ca­tion we re­ceived from Me­mo­rial, as do many oth­ers in Canada and around the world.

This ven­er­a­ble in­sti­tu­tion, how­ever, has been un­der at­tack re­cently and that is very frus­trat­ing.

The suc­ces­sive bud­get cuts heaped on MUN by this cur­rent gov­ern­ment, es­pe­cially those led by Gerry Byrne, are most un­for­tu­nate, to say the very least. Byrne’s on­go­ing in­vec­tive against the univer­sity in terms of discretionary spend­ing and so-called sense of en­ti­tle­ment ap­pears quite disin­gen­u­ous, given Byrne’s 20-some­thing year ca­reer of be­ing well served while feed­ing di­rectly or in­di­rectly off the pub­lic purse as a po­lit­i­cal aide, MP and now MHA, over por­tions of the last three decades. In con­cert with th­ese cuts, Byrne has seen fit to warn MUN not to raise tuition fees, thereby hob­bling the univer­sity’s abil­ity to weather th­ese financial set­backs.

While it is un­for­tu­nate that un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents, in gen­eral, across this coun­try are be­ing sad­dled with large amounts of stu­dent debt, we must also be cog­nizant of the fact that Me­mo­rial’s tuition rates are cur­rently the low­est in Canada.

Fur­ther, a pro­posal by Doug Smith in a let­ter to the ed­i­tor in the May 11th Tele­gram to cut MUN’s grad­u­ate schools as a cost-sav­ings mea­sure is, to say the least, quite in­ap­pro­pri­ate. The pur­pose of Me­mo­rial, like any other univer­sity, is as­suredly not just to ed­u­cate un­der­grad­u­ates. Uni­ver­si­ties are, in­deed, in­tended to ed­u­cate un­der­grad­u­ates, but also to lead in fields of re­search and sup­port the ed­u­ca­tion of grad­u­ate stu­dents in their pur­suit of mas­ter’s and PhD pro­grams. To even sug­gest oth­er­wise in­di­cates a fun­da­men­tal lack of com­pre­hen­sion of the goals of post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion, would be to the detri­ment of Me­mo­rial and would re­duce it to the level of a glo­ri­fied high school.

We can only hope that strong lead­er­ship from within and ap­pro­pri­ate over­sight and gov­ern­ment sup­port from without will en­deav­our to con­tinue the sup­port of Me­mo­rial’s suc­cess and fu­ture achieve­ments.

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