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It’s time to speak out against UNB’s money troubles

There wasn’t any money to pay the profs. There was, sure as hell, money to pay for external security and communications firms.

In solidarity with our professors and librarians, I had walked the picket line. I can remember the hired security firm that UNB felt they needed approaching picketers to chat and ask how everyone was dealing with the cold. I also remember other security guards standing on UNB grounds videotaping the picketers as though a sudden revolution was going to break out.

The one problem with having a revolution break out on campus is that we don’t have an Eddy statue to topple.

People who hire security and communications firms—especially when they already have their own internal security and communication bodies—do it, I suspect, because they are afraid.

The firm UNB hired for security is called AFIMAC. Their slogan is “a world of solutions.” They can provide such exquisite services as assisting “a client’s legal team by gathering evidence to obtain injunctions and temporary restraining orders.”

AFIMAC also has other savoury services such as ensuring “the safety of the supplemental labour assisting the company is [sic] continuing operations when crossing the picket line.” That is, they protect scabs.

Let’s tally some facts: UNB pulled a massive surplus this year. They spent over $300,000 on an outside security and communications team. Eddy continues to get a massive salary. Tony Secco is still struggling to afford the demand for coffee on Tuesdays.

Alternatively, adjunct professors continue to be subjugated by contracts and meager wages. Tuition increases continue. Tenured positions get cut. We’re still paying a facilities fee that is complete bullshit. And Eddy’s porch is looking better than ever.

I’m leaving this university in a few months. Assuming all goes well, I will walk away with my second degree from UNB. I’ve commented before that I love this university. It played a massive role in my professional growth and personal development.

But now, I can’t wait to get away. I am fed up. I am tired. I am disappointed. As a student, I feel taken advantage of. I look at my online statements of tuition payments. Like many of you, I’ve handed over thousands upon thousands of dollars to UNB. I handed that money over for student services. For pedagogy. For mentoring by the amazing and dedicated professors of UNB.

I never once paid tuition so Eddy could swing his elephant trunk around and pretend he’s Frank Underwood when no one’s looking. I didn’t pay for leadership that thinks it’s okay to say they have no money while hiring security firms and pulling surpluses. And I sure as hell didn’t pay to have coffee with Tony on Tuesdays.

Let’s diverge. Tuesdays with Tony is one of the most uncreative, unimaginative methods of reaching the student body. I am not at all convinced that it’s effective. I think, instead, it’s a nice way for Tony to say that he’s ‘consulted’ the student body on various issues. Tony thinks it makes him look nice and connected. I think it makes him look pathetic.

Tuesdays with Tony is an analogy for how the administration thinks of consultation: if you can create the image of involvement, that’s enough. As long as the administrative CV can claim some type of connection to the campus, it doesn’t matter if that consultation actually happens.

Like many students and professors at many universities across Canada, I feel completely embarrassed of my degree. Not because of my professors. Not because of my fellow students. But because the university, with its burgeoning neo-liberal desires, has played me. I’ve been the fool. And now I am $40,000-plus in debt.

So congratulations Eddy. Good work Tony. You’ve both distinguished yourselves as masters of the money game. You know how to get it. You know how to make it keep flowing in. I shovelled it over and never thought of it.

Perhaps, with this semester’s tuition, you could hire your own security detail. Perhaps a personal driver. Maybe pay a student to lightly spoon caviar into your mouth.

Does Eddy bang his ring twice on a desk when he leaves an office? It’s likely. He’s the face of power. The image of money. The only thing more powerful than Eddy at the moment is our collective voice.

I can’t wrap my head around why we’re not more pissed off. We’ve been duped into shovelling money over. And once we discover the con, we shrug and carry on. Why aren’t we filling up the Old Arts building? Why aren’t we confronting Tony on Tuesdays? Have we no dignity?

Maybe not. But if we’re without any sense of self-respect, I can’t imagine what Eddy sees in the mirror.

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