In advance of MUNSU and CFS-NL’s Nov. 2 Day of Action, and as another conciliation meeting approaches between MUNFA and MUNL’s negotiating teams, MUNFA and MUNSU are reiterating our shared commitment to improving the MUNL university community. It is crucial that we understand ourselves to be part of a shared community with shared interests, and to support each other as we pursue those interests.
Students across MUNL campuses will walk out on Nov. 2 to demand a return of a 22 year tuition fee freeze, investment in education and the abolishment of differential fees for international students. This is not a call for the university to finance a tuition freeze at the expense of other segments of the university — rather, it is a demand that the university and government invest in students and the future of this province.
MUNFA was proud to support a motion at University Senate ensuring that students can freely exercise their rights to join this important day of action. Reinstating a tuition freeze aligns with a number of MUNFA’s priorities during this round of collective bargaining, which are aimed squarely at improving the university for future generations. Some of these priorities are: Indigenization; firm commitments to climate action from the university; and commitments to equity and anti-racism efforts that will result in a more inclusive, diverse faculty. MUNFA’s efforts to reduce overwork and increase job security for contractual faculty should also be seen in this light — by improving faculty working conditions, these measures would allow faculty to devote more of their attention to their students, thereby improving students’ learning experiences.
It is possible that the university’s administration will say that a tuition freeze is financially impossible. To that, we respond that it is the administration’s duty to advocate for all members of the university community. MUNL needs to be properly funded by the provincial government, and the administration should be leading this call rather than accepting and adopting the austerity mindset promoted by the government. Furthermore, MUNL’s administration needs to be prepared to put those dollars to work on measures that are sorely needed — such as reinstating the tuition freeze and improving conditions for workers on campus, including faculty.