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I know someone who liked to apply technology to improve processes and had a very clever name for his houseboat: EEE-FISH-ANT-SEA.

We are witnessing, and I bet you are witnessing, some negative impacts at Fanshawe College all in the name of “efficiencies.” The word out there is that every department suffered a 2% cut to repair the $8 million budget “hole”.

We are aware of full-time faculty that have left the college that haven’t been replaced. We intend on grieving those “failure to replace” instances and have filed one grievance already. If you’re aware of a full-time position that hasn’t been posted, please let us know.

There have also been other effects, such as partial-load faculty previously paid for exam week whose new contracts were cut back to cover only 14 weeks. We’ve filed a union grievance on that issue as well.

We need to remain vigilant in order to protect our jobs and our livelihood.

Why are these efficiencies, better known as budget cuts, happening?

After all, Fanshawe is not flat broke. We did reach a settlement with the college on our Article 2 staffing grievances: Fanshawe actually hired more full-time faculty this year than they were required to.

We all readily acknowledge that government funding could be and should be much better than it is.  There is something else going on though with the funding the college does have.

I submit to you that Fanshawe senior administration has taken on too many capital projects all at once. Consider these projects that will all be under construction simultaneously, listed below with approximate costs from college documents:

Purchase of Hot Zone Training Consultants (a private company): $1.7 million

Downtown Phase 2 (Kingsmills): $61.4 million total

Canadian Centre for Product Validation: $8.1 million committed from the college to match the $8.1 from FedDev

C Building Redevelopment: $8.2 million

Wellness/Fitness Centre: up to $24 million from students plus an unknown contribution from the college

Fanshawe’s Board of Governors has changed how this activity is represented on the financial statements. Capital projects are now amortized over five years. In many ways, that does make sense. But no matter how one accounts for these projects over time, we’re talking about some really big numbers.

Previously in The Educator, I wrote about the questionable practice of Fanshawe transferring operating funds (composed of primarily student tuition and government grants) to capital reserves. Obviously, it is still happening.

The problem is, from the new financial statements you won’t be able to tell that it is happening.

As hidden as it might be, students will feel it. Programs will feel it. Faculty hoping to find stable employment will feel it. We’re seeing the effects already.

No matter how you try to spell “efficiency”, these are still budget cuts.  Unlike the cleverly named EEE-FISH-ANT-SEE houseboat, we’re now in a different type of vessel in a different kind of creek. And the “efficiencies” have taken away our paddles.

In solidarity,

Darryl Bedford, President

OPSEU Local 110,  Fanshawe College Faculty Union