Letter: MUN should be lauded, not hobbled

Published on May 16, 2017

Memorial University of Newfoundland’s St. John's campus.

©Keith Gosse/The Telegram file photo

Memorial University is arguably the greatest single accomplishment of successive governments of this province going back to the days of Joey Smallwood. Indeed, many Newfoundlanders — myself included — owe much of our collective success and the lifestyle so many of us enjoy to the education we received from Memorial, as do many others in Canada and around the world.

This venerable institution, however, has been under attack recently and that is very frustrating.

The successive budget cuts heaped on MUN by this current government, especially those led by Gerry Byrne, are most unfortunate, to say the very least.

The successive budget cuts heaped on MUN by this current government, especially those led by Gerry Byrne, are most unfortunate, to say the very least. Byrne’s ongoing invective against the university in terms of discretionary spending and so-called sense of entitlement appears quite disingenuous, given Byrne’s 20-something year career of being well served while feeding directly or indirectly off the public purse as a political aide, MP and now MHA, over portions of the last three decades. In concert with these cuts, Byrne has seen fit to warn MUN not to raise tuition fees, thereby hobbling the university’s ability to weather these financial setbacks.

While it is unfortunate that undergraduate students, in general, across this country are being saddled with large amounts of student debt, we must also be cognizant of the fact that Memorial’s tuition rates are currently the lowest in Canada.

Further, a proposal by Doug Smith in a letter to the editor in the May 11th Telegram to cut MUN’s graduate schools as a cost-savings measure is, to say the least, quite inappropriate. The purpose of Memorial, like any other university, is assuredly not just to educate undergraduates. Universities are, indeed, intended to educate undergraduates, but also to lead in fields of research and support the education of graduate students in their pursuit of master’s and PhD programs. To even suggest otherwise indicates a fundamental lack of comprehension of the goals of post-secondary education, would be to the detriment of Memorial and would reduce it to the level of a glorified high school.

We can only hope that strong leadership from within and appropriate oversight and government support from without will endeavour to continue the support of Memorial’s success and future achievements.

 

Marvin Barnes
St. John’s