University didn’t act in interest of students, so I’m maintaining pledge
Almost exactly two years ago, I joined over 100 Mount Allison students to protest the administration’s decision not to reimburse us with a tuition rebate following a faculty strike. I, like every student at the protest and most students of the university at the time, was angry. We were angry that the administration was treating our faculty like expendable labour. We were angry that three weeks of lost class time and academic work were suddenly dropped on us at the end of the term, to the detriment of students already struggling with their mental health due to inadequate resources here. We were especially angry that the administration was refusing to give students a rebate for the tuition we’d paid during the strike. We were possibly most angry that our anger was being dismissed as inconsequential and uninformed, and that the administration was consistently lying to the university community about its role before, during and after the strike.
Before going to the protest, I signed a petition pledging to never donate to this university unless the administration reimbursed students with a tuition rebate. About 600 other students and alumni signed the petition. A tuition rebate was never issued.
Because I will soon be graduating and becoming an alumnus, I want the administration to know that I intend to stand by this pledge and never donate to this university. The decision not to grant students a tuition rebate was unacceptable and reflects how this administration’s interests don’t align with those of its students. I remind every other graduating signatory of this petition to stand by their commitment, and for current and future Mt. A students to remember the power they have in leveraging this pledge.
The administration refused to pay this rebate because they believe, wrongly, that student mobilization is inconsequential. I believe it’s no coincidence that Mt. A’s dramatic fall from “#1” followed this action, among many others, by the administration that not only hurt students but also dismissed their concerns as trivial. But things may be changing. This year alone, from repealing correspondence tuition to saving the women’s and gender studies program to creating the indigenous studies minor, student activism and outcry has been a powerful force of resistance to regressive administrative directives. This university’s administration might not take its students’ concerns seriously, but it may be starting to fear what they can do.
Pledging to never donate to the university is a small action individually, but done collectively can seriously threaten Mt. A’s credibility by highlighting its administration’s failure to act in confidence of its students, faculty, and staff. I hope the administration remembers the never-donating pledges that came out of the tuition rebate protests if and when more student activist campaigns adopt this tactic. DivestMTA recently started an alumni petition pledging to never donate to the university unless it divests from fossil fuels, which has already garnered over 50 signatories.
Students should remember this is but one way to exercise their power in resisting administrative decisions against them, and, like any good protest, becomes only stronger with numbers. The administration should remember that this university can’t exist without its students, and that if students like myself pledge to never donate to the university for its wrongdoings, it’s being governed against the interests of the very people it serves.