The Western University budget is formally presented to Senate on Friday, and I am perplexed and concerned.
As an outgoing senator-at-large and arts student, I am worried about the future of faculties like arts. Now before I go into details, I want to state that I do believe dean Michael Milde and his efforts to retain as much of the programs and courses that are possible with a $4 million deficit. He has the best interests of the faculty and students in mind.
What we need now, more than ever, are students at the table. The fact that students find out such information so late in the game is frankly ridiculous. Students are a big part of why campus communities are created and continue to thrive. Students need to be at the table right from the beginning. Students need to be involved and given the platform to provide their input.
Right now, students are finding out that there will be cuts made to faculty and course offerings. Everything is tentative. As students push through exams and the stress of it, many of us are concerned about what our timetables next year will look like, if courses we need to take for progression requirements and graduation will be there or not.
With fewer course selections available, will we have to take an extra semester, or even a year, to meet all the requirements? Is it worth sticking around an extra year, or is it smarter to cut that minor or certificate so that we can still graduate on time? These are real questions that require answers and tough choices for students in arts and humanities.
Students must take interest and engage with these issues. Talk to your student senators. Reach out to your student council leaders. Ensure your voice is heard and that your representatives speak and work for you.
With MTP, students found out about the cut to the program by looking at the faculty website. This should not happen. Senate and administration need to ensure students are present at the table in a speaking and voting capacity where it all starts: departmental committees.
There needs to be consideration about pushing decisions forward without students and their feedback present at the table. There needs to be special consideration and arrangements made to ensure at least a student representative is present at these meetings where major decisions about programs and course offerings are made.
With arts and other faculties working with funding and enrolment changes, it is imperative that dean Milde and the administration across campus includes students in consultations and the decision-making process especially as cuts and adjustments are made.
After the March senate, I told someone that these cuts to programs like writing could be the beginning of the end for the department. I really hope that is not true ever.
— Arjun Singh is an outgoing student senator-at-large and fifth-year political science student