May 1, 2014 7:05 pm

Rally held opposing TransformUS plan of action

Watch above: U of S staff, students, faculty rally against TransformUS

SASKATOON – A rally was held in Saskatoon Thursday against changes to come at the University of Saskatchewan as part of TransformUS. It’s a plan of action that is one of seven broader initiatives that the university is undertaking to bring down the operating budget deficit.

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Shouting “they say cut back, we say fight back,” students, staff and faculty made their voices heard loud and clear as they stood up and spoke out against TransformUS, a program prioritization process.

“I certainly think there should be some onus on government in this, of this province and it’s all about priorities and where you want to spend your money,” said Wayne Foley, president of CUPE Local 1975.

“It certain seems that the priority certainly isn’t with post-secondary education and the advancement of the young people and the communities of this province.”

Faced with a $44.5 million shortfall in it’s operating budget by 2016,  the University of Saskatchewan’s implementation of TransformUS is said to save the university $25.3 dollars in annual expenses.

WATCH HERE: U of S putting financial action plan in motion

“What it looks like to me is we’re becoming a clearing house for industry problems, problems that industry doesn’t want to invest in solving themselves, they want to do it at public expense and our kids are going to suffer,” said professor Ed Tymchatyn with the department of mathematics at the U of S.

Seventy-five per cent of the university’s operating budget goes toward salaries and benefits. As part of the plan, there will be a reduction in the size of the campus’ senior administrative group.

“They’ve grown enormously, they’re like a cancer on the university body,” said professor Howard Woodhouse with the U of S department of educational foundations.

“In fact they’re not like a cancer, they are.”

“The senior administration, not administration in general but senior administration has grown by over 100 per cent, actually 104 per cent, since 2000 whereas student numbers have only grown by 11 per cent and faculty by 10 per cent.”

There are also concerns that TransformUs will not only affect students already attending the campus but future recruits.

“Fortunately for the university from their perspective of the vision that they want for it they’ll be able to increase their research and that will look good for the university but in general I don’t think it’s will offer the same student experience and i think students will recognize that,” said Nicholas Marlatte, a University of Saskatchewan alumni.

Some even question if the deficit really exists.

“My solution to the deficit, let them release the books and show to everyone that there is in fact a deficit because there are many of us, the faculty association included who do not believe it,” said Woodhouse.

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