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Why Academic Freedom is worth fighting for
Would you be comfortable with a hospital administrator dictating the parameters of your loved one’s health care? Telling a surgeon how specifically to perform surgery? Instructing a nurse how long they may care for a patient? In the College System, faculty are the ones with subject matter expertise. Why would you permit an administrator to tell you how and what to teach? Why can administrators “pass” a student in a course, overriding faculty’s first-hand observations? This would be like a Hospital administrator sending a patient home because they have “overstayed their welcome”, but are not healthy enough yet to go. Academic Freedom is our protection against administration interfering in our classrooms.
This system is broken. The future of education in this Province is at stake. The culture in our colleges is dysfunctional – it is a fear-base culture that destroys our ability to be critical and innovate. Creativity and innovation require an environment of trust, not fear. Academic Freedom provides faculty with the ability to be critical of the world around us, to speak out against the status quo and to construct new ideas and new ways to approach society’s problems. Without academic freedom, these questions could be silenced, and innovation stalled.
The current approach to the Walmartization of education will make our students less competitive in the marketplace and reduce their ability to compete in a global economy. A Walmart education does not guarantee quality employment for our students. The growing cost of administration is placing the entire educational system at risk. So we have chosen to take a stand against it. If we don’t, who will?
This is my first strike and hopefully my last. I hate it. I miss my students. Lack of a paycheque hurts. But I will never, ever, ever give up my Academic Freedom. I will reject this offer and hope that you do as well. Choose courage over comfort. Don’t we teach this?