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Students still have influence | So what are you going to do about it?

I completed my first year of post-secondary at the University of Lethbridge. On Nov. 4, 2008, the university’s sewage system backed up, shutting down the campus’s washrooms and therefore cancelling classes. The day was soon labelled “Poo Day” and a campaign to make it an annual holiday took off.

How do I remember that Poo Day happened on Nov. 4, 2008? Because as the student body was slurring the praises of Saint Septic, everyone else was watching Barack Obama be elected as the 44th president of the United States of America.

I, presumably like many other Lethbridgian students, am not proud of my actions during Poo Day— but when everyone is shitfaced, lines are bound to be crossed.

How UofL’s student body perceived Poo Day was oddly similar to how UNB students perceived the strike/lockout: something that was both fun and nerve-racking, but we completely missed the larger and more important things that were happening at the same time.

Before the labour dispute, there were two main reasons for students to come to UNB: first, because they couldn’t get into Dalhousie, or second, because they believed that by coming to UNB they had the opportunity to work on a personal level with renowned professors, an opportunity not often afforded by other universities.

However, because of our actions during the labour dispute, such as marching on union headquarters like a 19th century Pinkerton goon squad, we effectively erased the second reason for attending UNB. By clear-cutting our professors like the Irvings clear-cut Crown land, UNB’s student body accepted the disassembly of our own university’s largest draw.

UNB’s students have begun to view our professors the same way we view the Richard J. Currie Center: something that costs a fortune, is all glitz and glamour and that nobody really uses. The difference between the two, however, is that a university runs on academics, not treadmills.

I agree that AUNBT’s actions during the strike were far from perfect. Yes, at times, their public relations and student outreach seemed to be run by a senior citizen beginning to text for the first time. “Profs <3 students. lol. Y no luv Eddy? #facebook.”

But how do we expect our university to maintain a respectable scholarly reputation, a reputation in which we have a vested interest, when we are willing to either ignore or actively support practices that value administrative indulgence over intellectual integrity?

President Eddy Campbell’s administration is turning this university into a Gold’s Gym. People come here, are promised exceptional results, but then will be completely abandoned after paying their inflated membership fee. Furthermore, this charade operates under the altruistic guise of wanting to help you better yourself while, in effect, being driven entirely by fiscal gain.

For those of us soon graduating, we have to live with the fact that we squandered our chance to positively influence our university’s culture and values. While everyone around us was watching their world change, we were standing on the bar yelling “I LOVE POO DAY!”

However, for those students that have time left here, there is still the opportunity to correct our campus’s systemic problem of working against its self-interest.

Last week, The Brunswickan’s front-page story meticulously detailed the fact that while there have been crippling cuts to UNB’s faculties, there has never been a better time to latch on to administration’s teat.

In response to these deeply troubling numbers, UNB’s arts faculty recently voted to support a motion of non-confidence in UNB’s administration. The business faculty is to vote on a similar motion in the upcoming days as well. While these motions are purely symbolic, they send a clear message to UNB’s Board of Governors, a message that demands a dramatic realignment of the university’s leadership (or lack thereof).

While these motions come at the end of the academic calendar, their repercussions will most likely carry over into next September. Therefore meaning that #strikelife may achieve what Poo Day never could, becoming a yearly occurrence.

If we, the students of UNB, wish for our university to be something more than an administrator’s wet dream, we had better start doing something.

Somewhat ironically, the worst part about Poo Day was the fact that Poo Day existed. Yes, it was a blast to get drunk at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday, but after it was all over there was a whole lot of shit to clean up.

Perhaps equally as ironic, this may be the best time to be a student at UNB. The amount of influence we have the ability to wield is unprecedented. We can either take an active role in aiding our university or continue to take the misguided steps that will render it ineffective and ultimately obsolete.

The question comes down to whether or not we willing to stand by uncomfortably while we watch President Campbell flush this university.

Aside from a comedy column in next week’s spoof edition (believe it or not, these columns haven’t all been spoofs), this is my last article. I appreciate the opportunity to be your Opinions Columnist for this year. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Richard Kemick
richardkemick@thebruns.ca

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