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Mark Mancini

Collaboration, not confrontation, on upcoming tuition increases

You catch more bees with honey than with vinegar. That should be the new marching order of student unions across the country.Universities, currently, are facing intense budgetary challenges. Not only is the Ontario Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty ceasing to provide funding to universities, there is no indication that this will change under a government of any other colour.This particular problem is highlighted at Laurentian University in Northern Ontario. The expectation of universities is to continue providing consistent programming with increased budgetary constraints. In the North, the problem is only exacerbated; we have less latitude to deal with these issues than most other universities.Essentially, there’s no way out of this issue that will be easy. Cuts will have to be made. Even more than that, painful tuition fee increases are a likely outcome.Typically, it’s the job of student unions to fight against these sorts of actions at all costs. There is a deep-rooted tradition in student politics to take to the streets to oppose these sorts of actions, in a way that’s decidedly adversarial against the administrations of these universities. While these sorts of actions have achieved certain successes, we’re heading into a new era that requires a new vision in student politics – a vision that encompasses a collaborative role between administration and students.If other universities are anything like Laurentian, consultations are occurring between the administration and the student unions. These consultations provide the basis for student unions to compromise with administrators.Make no mistake; it’s not in our interest to accept cuts at the current moment to programming. But what could occur down the line if we don’t accept cuts? Do we simply accept lower quality programming for the next number of years, in exchange for adherence to a principle of “no cuts?” This seems ludicrous.So, in essence, student… Read More

Canadian lessons for American political polarization

I’ll admit I’m a huge fan of Michael Douglas. He’s a great actor, and has played in a number of movies which have become my personal favourites. In The American President Douglas plays an unabashedly liberal Democrat President fighting against a vilified Republican opposition, and in one particularly passionate speech claims, “We have serious problems, and we need serious people to solve them.” Far be it from me to agree with a relatively left-wing character, yet, Douglas’ words resound strongly with us when we consider the serious economic issues that the US faces, and how they could affect us here in Canada. I speak, of course, of the political turmoil that has arisen in the US due to the lack of compromise between two diametrically opposed political factions. The recent debt ceiling crisis was a prime example of how very entrenched these factions are, to the detriment of the economy, and of the average American. Blame for this fiasco need not be spread equally. President Barack Obama has made some good-faith efforts to compromise in ways that aren’t necessarily true to his liberal roots. His willingness to compromise with Tea Party-influenced Republicans on the debt ceiling issue, bucking the rank and file of his own party in the process, saved the US from certain turmoil. His comprehensive jobs bill was a rational answer to a common sense problem: unemployment. Obama has governed in a way that is not necessarily partisan, rather, he has attempted to resolve certain clear issues that have plagued the US for a decade. While he’s certainly not perfect, he has conducted himself with class and decency. And with what has he been met? Instead of nuanced and good-faith opposition from the Republicans on a number of fronts, the once-great party of Lincoln has sold out to… Read More