Ashamed of my peers

Picture 54

That’s my naked right pinky finger. On most engineers (who are right-handed) you will typically find a piece of iron (actually stainless steel) that represents their obligation to engineering. I didn’t get mine because I refused, and still do, to sign the Obligation that would have required me to hypocritically betray my conscience while pledging to be honest. While I would still appreciate being offered the olive branch to be included in that ceremony, I’m growing even more ashamed of the people who were once my peers.

Today’s Facebook check brought an invite to the page “Engineers in favour of improving our faculty and supporting the ESS" which lists a statement by the University of Alberta’s Engineering Student Society’s Board of Directors, a body made of up of the democratically-elected presidents of each discipline plus the executive of the ESS.

The statement outlines how the Board has consulted with the faculty administrators and decided that the best when to ensure that the “world class facilities and faculty” are kept in place is to tax students.

Oh wait, they don’t use the word tax, they call it a “Market Modifier.”

Market modifier my ass, the ESS has just sold the average engineering student up shit creek without a paddle.

I’m glad my finger is naked, because I’m ashamed of these tools.

Currently the UofA administrators are pushing forward, almost without protest, a mandatory tax, sorry “Common Student Space, Sustainability and Security Fee,” of $570 per student per semester to recoup some of it’s $57 million deficit. This fee is on top of the market modifiers, so the ESS is proposing that engineering students ought to pay even more than the average student.

But don’t worry says the University and the ESS, some of these fees will go straight back into scholarships!

So to help the un-affordability that extra student taxes are creating, they offer to throw a few bucks back, at only a few students. But don’t worry, titles like “ESS President” look really good on scholarship applications, so our wonderful Board members may be able to get their funds back, plus a little of their peers.

But why is the UofA in such dire straights?

Having the highest paid administrators in Canada can’t have anything to do with it, I mean, combined they only take in $2.57 million. That’s not even counting how much the deans and their staff are bringing in. Their vision of making the UofA “top 20 by 2020” (whatever the fuck that means, remember how they never explained it) has come at the financial stability of the school and now they’re pinning the exorbitant costs on students.

Where’s the lobbying to Stelmach? Where’s the lobbying to Ottawa? These people are also in part to blame.

But instead, you have students being manipulated by these people trying to protect their overpaid jobs.

I thought it was bad enough that far too many engineers are creationists or anti-science climate change denialists. But this takes the stereotypical right-wing engineer to a far new level.

Notice how they even tilt the language, using the word “market” as though a degree is a mere product to be traded, not earned. Entitled shits. Universities used to be about higher learning and expanding your mind. If this is the future of engineering, move it back to technical school and leave university for the actual academic pursuits.

Market modifiers my ass. A tax is a tax, and this is only going to hurt the University of Alberta. Tuition only goes up, and letting them raise it will only screw students in the long run.

I’m glad I got out. I feel sorry for those who will no longer be able to get in.

5 thoughts on “Ashamed of my peers”

  1. Ian, its unfortunate about the market modifiers and the extra the eng students have to pay. But blaming the administrators is not the right thing to do in this case. Apparently (I am getting this from a source who sat at the meetings where this was actually discussed) that the Alberta government told the U of A that they were getting $60 million less and that the government ‘suggested’ the university raise tuition to make up for it. That is a clear indication that the government is not going to budge. If only we had a provincial government that knew how to plan for the future when it wasn’t a boom…..I guess its because it ‘never’ happened before!

    1. I can and will blame the administration. Their job is to show leadership, instead their first instinct when told they have less money is to circumvent tuition law (which they’ve been actively lobbying against) and to create a non-tuition tax to charge students. The UofA has the highest paid bureaucracy in Canada, and for what? A record setting deficit because they expanded to fast? There’s ways to cut back that won’t negatively affect either access or the current students, I outline some of them here.

    2. And I will be fair, Stelmach and Harper share a lot of the blame for cutting funding and screwing PSE.

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