Solidarity with Memorial Students’ Nov 8 Day of Action to Fight the Fees!

Hello all,

As many of you may have noted, the university Senate approved academic amnesty for students on November 8 so that they may freely participate in the Day of Action to fight for free and accessible post-secondary education.

The motion that passed at Senate, as shared on Newsline on November 1, reads as follows:

That Senate encourage academic units and professors to grant academic amnesty on Nov. 8 to all students of all Memorial University campuses, insofar as academic units and professors remain flexible in making alternate arrangements, including rescheduling examinations and the deadlines for submission of assignments, and in adopting any other required forms of leniency for students who are absent from classes that day, so that they may freely participate in the day of action without fear of academic repercussions; and that this offer of academic amnesty be communicated to students and faculty by Memorial University. Where possible, faculty and instructors are asked to plan for flexibility on this day.

MUNFA stands with students. We must remember the massive support students offered MUNFA during our strike of January 2023. When our need for solidarity was greatest, Memorial’s students went above and beyond to support us. Students deserve our support in return. Just as students understand that our working conditions are their learning conditions, the reverse is also true. Public post-secondary education continues to be actively dismantled across the country, including in this province, through chronic cuts to funding.

Politicians and media in this province characterize Memorial as being heavily subsidized. This is propaganda. Subsidies occur when public money is given to private interests, not to public ones. Memorial is a public institution. By definition, public institutions are supported by public money.

Base funding for Memorial has declined every year since 2014 with total cuts as of 2023 approaching 30% in constant dollar terms.

Figure 1. Government has cut MUN’s operating grant every year since 2015. These cuts increased significantly this year by ~$10 million, resulting in a cumulative loss of $45 million. (Source: Dr. Peña-Castillo, professor; used with permission)

These cuts result in the active dismantling of the core teaching and research capacity of our university. As the base funding of the university is gutted, students pay more and more for less and less.

Figure 2: Raise in Memorial University undergraduate tuition since Fall 2022. Source: The Gazette, “Tuition changes,” July 9, 2021

Students deserve our support. Please consider joining the Student Day Action on November 8. On St. John’s Campus, we’ll be gathering under the Clock Tower in front of the University Centre starting at 11 AM and then moving on to the Confederation Building.  For those on Grenfell Campus, folks will be rallying at the Arts and Science Atrium at 11 AM, marching down to the Sir Richard Squires Building, and ending with a BBQ. I’ll be speaking at the event in St. John’s. I hope to see you there.

Josh Lepawsky

Professor of Geography and MUNFA President