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UNB leaders need a pay cut

Governments in this province have little going for them.

Either they’re disconnected, they’re against progress, or, well, they’re made up of politicians. However, it’s the first time in my political memory where a government made a move towards being leaders of our province instead of blind bystanders.

The Gallant government took a pay cut. Our premier and his cabinet ministers took a cut to their salaries as a good gesture to the New Brunswick population. A population that struggles to get by. A citizenship who struggles to, often, even get employment.

Let’s be clear. MLAs and party leaders make a ton of money. Compared to the working class of this province, they’re Warren Buffets, albeit less altruistic. Them taking a pay cut is in no way going to save the destitute financial state of this province.

But it’s a huge gesture. Lately, with these articles, I’ve been obsessed with leadership. While I don’t believe change is top down, I do think that great leadership can provoke a shift in thinking. Great leadership is when those in elite positions decide to not only consider, but assist those who they lead.

Taking a pay cut says a multitude of things on how our government treats our financial situation. It speaks volumes to how our government thinks of its constituents. It’s a gesture towards understanding. It’s an attempt at saying “let’s move forward together.”

What does it say when politicians act more altruistic, have better leadership, actually try to be the front of change instead of its inhibitor, than the leaders of universities? What’s it mean when one of the most entirely degenerative pieces of our society have better form than the institutions which are intended to train the next generations and support the creation and criticism of knowledge?

Herein lies the best explanation for why we have a generation that is so often self-involved and narcissistic. We learned from the best. We had the best teachers possible. They gave a shining example of how to get and maintain things you don’t deserve. They showed us how to keep a job we are subpar at.

I dare any New Brunswick university president to organize a public forum where their wages and benefits are presented and they must then justify their salaries to a body of their subjects.

There’s a lingering question: why were there salary increases at UNB while academic position were left unfilled? Why were their salaries increased while tuition was increasing? Shouldn’t there be some rule where when a president wants to implement a tuition increase, they must take a pay cut?

There’s a suggestion for a UNB Act revision.

Let’s have that forum where we can finally understand why university presidents make so much. At the same event, let’s ask them what they do. This won’t be one of those law school “all is fine, friends” meetings, but an honest chance to get to know the leaders who have “led’ us through strikes and conflicts and change.

Honestly, it’s not going to happen. These individuals are so supremely isolated and escaped from the general population of the places they lead that they would ask “my god, why would they need this? Do they not get it?” These “leaders” are so entirely lost in their own self-importance that it is beyond their understanding.

Instead, they send out heartless letters, they try buying students coffee, and they grumble out empty sentiments. They live in large houses with well-plowed driveways and beautiful porches and can’t grasp why their position might need a review.

Even when their subjects call them out and outright state that they do not have confidence in them, they act like nothing is going on. They honestly think they are doing a perfectly fine job and can’t, for the life of them, understand why people are so unhappy.

This kind of isolation, of disconnection, is so well-groomed and practiced that there is no way in hell that we can change it. The only thing to do is wait them out and hope they are gone before any real danger has been done to the institutions we create, live with, and support.

We all know who I am talking about. My suggestion is this: call a meeting on campus. Open-door. Open to the public, faculty, and staff. Leave your marketers and fellow administrators behind. Let us confront you, question you and we promise we will give you the time and silence to justify yourself.

As a gesture of good will, I’ve cut my article length by 10 per cent. Leadership, right?


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