Spanish philosopher George Santayana famously wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” While most of you were only preschoolers during the last Mount Allison work stoppage and thus have no memory of that walkout, I hope that you will accept some wisdom from an alumnus whose university experience was tarnished by the previous Mount Allison Faculty Association (MAFA) strike in 1999. Just like the Mount Allison Student’s Union (MASU) is doing now, the elected student leadership in 1999 chose to adopt a position of neutrality. While their stance was well-meaning, it proved to be a disservice to the students, and I am very disheartened to see the same mistakes that failed us fifteen years ago are being repeated today.
Rather than remaining neutral, you should be taking an active stance against the side that is directly responsible for the indefinite suspension of classes, which in this case is the striking faculty union. Threatening to cancel your winter semester is a key pillar of MAFA’s bargaining strategy, so make it known that you will not tolerate being used as pawns in their negotiations! You should be furious that your education is being used as a bargaining chip, so meet with your MASU representatives and urge them to end their misguided notion of neutrality in favour of adopting a position of unambiguous opposition against the group that caused your classes to be cancelled. For every professor on the picket lines, there should be a dozen students marching against them. Only MASU has the organizational reach to make such a wide-spread counter-picket a reality, but this will not happen so long as your student leadership refuses to take sides.
On a final note, I implore you not to mistake this advice as being anti-faculty. During my years at Mt. A, I had the pleasure of learning from many great professors, as I’m sure each of you have as well. Ultimately, however, it is the faculty union that has voted to walk off the job, and thus the striking professors should be the focus of your efforts as you do everything within your power to end the strike. If the situation was reversed and the class cancellation was caused by an administration-imposed lockout, my advice to take sides would not be changed, but I would instead be urging you to occupy Centennial Hall en masse.
-Chris Levesque, ‘02
Mount Allison, will you be my Valentine?
Truth be told, I’m rather smitten with you, and you’ve stolen my heart (I know you’ll take good care of it).
I love being with you. You never fail to make me laugh or cry or feel something. Being around you is a roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes I’m completely speechless and sometimes I’m just plain giddy. You are so complex, and I love all of your flaws and imperfections just as much as I love your beauty. I love the way you make me feel. When I’m around you, I feel like a million bucks. I feel like I have unconditional support and the confidence of thousands patting me on the shoulder.
Being with you, Mt. A, means going about my day and having this constant, continuous feeling that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. It’s pretty magical. I love you for giving that to me. I love all of the little things that make you you: I love walking into the student centre and seeing a banner that is hilarious or super artsy or just big. I love sitting in a cubicle at the library and exploring the messages left by those before me. I love feeling badass when I can walk into the bookstore without taking off my backpack, because the ladies know me. I love Carol’s decorations in meal hall and I love how the ladies in Gracie’s go all-out for the holidays, too. I love going out to the Pond and feeling like it was a great night because I saw so many people I knew and recognized. Mt. A, you are so cool.
I love you even though you put down wooden boards on the steps in the winter, even though I can’t find any places on campus to buy Skittles, even though I feel mixed emotions whenever I spot a high school student on a tour of campus. My heart swells with pride and I have to fight the urge to tell them that this is the best place on earth, better than Disney World, so as not to freak them out (I know I can be a little overwhelming. You can, too). Instead I settle for a smile at the parents or a simple, “Welcome to Mt. A!” hoping that it might make a difference and it might express some small inch of my love for you. And I also fight back envy that they are thinking about future time at Mt. A—not about how much time they have left with you.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Mt. A. Thank you for being the love of my life.
-Danielle Lenarcic Biss
With their student-wide email of Jan. 31, the administration has insulted both the faculty and students of Mount Allison. While the opening lines of the email apportion blame entirely on the Mount Allison Faculty Association (MAFA), students recognize that the situation is clearly more complex than that. The strike action followed seven months of failed negotiations on the part of both MAFA and the university. To insinuate that MAFA bears all the blame for the strike is deliberately misleading. Similarly, the administration blames MAFA for the existence of an impasse in the first place. The email reads, “The faculty association states that it will not return to the bargaining table unless the University withdraws all of its major proposals.” It fails to mention that the university has been just as unwilling to accept MAFA’s proposals. This email portrays the administration as partisan and petty.
However, the email also highlights a much deeper issue. By nature of its position as the organizational body of the university, the administration has access to all student email accounts. MAFA does not. Disseminating its biased version of events in this manner is unfair and one-sided. Furthermore, with several references to tuition, student-to-faculty ratios, and the current strike, the email appears to be an attempt to turn students against their professors. To address this email to the “Mount Allison Community” while at the same time seeking to divide it is blatant hypocrisy. That the university believes its own students are not intelligent enough to notice this is extremely disappointing.
Students are and ought to be a neutral body to the contract negotiations and neither MAFA nor the administration should be attempting to sway them to their side. Mount Allison’s students are engaged, passionate, and informed and will not be convinced by this poor strategy. I hope that the university will apologize for this misrepresentative and divisive email and will change its tactics before they begin to backfire.