Students express concern about IPRM

Graphic by Joshua Awolade

Graphic by Joshua Awolade

Students at Wilfrid Laurier University have come forward and expressed concerns with the Integrated Planning and Resource Management report.

A group called “Laurier Student Voices,” which is comprised of about 20 undergraduate and graduate students, has taken an opposition to IPRM.

They will be doing a demonstration by way of a silent protest in the Quad on Thursday before the board of governors meeting and have created a petition circulated among Laurier students asking the board to “reject IPRM in its current form.”

At the meeting, the board will be discussing the IPRM report and giving the Laurier community the opportunity to voice their opinions. They will have the option to either vote on the report or table motions until the next meeting.

The silent protest will continue through the meeting, with students moving closer to the Senate and Board Chamber when the meeting starts at 1 p.m. Some students will be protesting while others will be expressing their concerns in the discussion portion of the meeting.

As of  Tuesday evening, the petition had 371 signatures.

Connor Young, a fourth-year Laurier student who is part of Laurier Student Voices, said the silent protest is meant to “bring agency back to the students.”

“Obviously there are people on both sides of the issue. We’re not trying to create like a big schism between supporters and the nay-sayers,” Young said.

“All we’re saying is our voices have been ignored. People who have been opposed to this process have been heard, but not listened to. And that’s an issue. If we were listened to, changes would have been implemented, but they weren’t.”

Young explained most of the students involved didn’t know what IPRM was until late November when the report was released.

Students went to the town halls and Senate meetings to voice their concerns, but the report was still passed by Senate.

“We’ve been coming forward with these issues for a long time, in town hall meetings and all this stuff. And all they say is, ‘thank you for your comments,’ but nothing changes.”

Over the holiday break, the students continued to read the 300-page report.

Their negative feelings were amplified and they began to create the group to fight for change.

“It’s corporatizing higher education,” Young said.

“It views us as products, not people and views staff as liabilities, not assets.”

What sparked the most anger out of students was the lack of student involvement in the IPRM process, Young explained.

According to Young, only two undergraduate students were on the administrative priorities planning team and no undergraduate representation was present on the academic priorities team.

Additionally, Young said Laurier Student Voices will be advocating for the university to hire more permanent teaching positions rather than contract academic staff.

Young said in 2012, 3.4 per cent of all of Laurier’s total costs were spent on teaching 52 per cent of the students by 52 per cent of the contract academic staff.

“It doesn’t add up. They say they can’t make ends meet, but this just doesn’t add up,” Young continued.

“Where is the rest of our money going?”

On Monday the university released a statement responding to “misinformation” published about IPRM.

The statement said Laurier “recognizes and welcomes students’ continued participation in the IPRM discussions.”

According to the statement, the total number of courses taught by CAS members cannot exceed 35 per cent of the courses offered and, currently, CAS teach approximately 45 per cent of Laurier students.

The statement also said faculty salaries comprise the “largest portion” of the university’s total salary budget, sitting at approximately 60 per cent excluding benefits and pensions.

The university’s statement also said that the two students of the “original 27 members on the academic priorities team” represent seven per cent of the APT.

The actions of Laurier Students Voices also has the support of Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group, which came forward Monday in opposition of the IPRM process.

LSPIRG has also provided Laurier Student Voices with funding for their initiatives.

Young said Laurier Student Voices isn’t looking to tarnish Laurier’s reputation, but show that students are actively involved in the IPRM process, which he said will hurt Laurier’s reputation in the long run.

“We are not here to damage Laurier’s good name. We’re here because we want to uphold it,” he said.

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