BURNABY – More than 1,000 students, staff, and teachers joined in a boisterous rally at Simon Fraser University today to demand adequate funding for public education in order to “Save SFU”.
At the front of the protest were people holding signs numbered from 1-80 to illustrate the number of staff (50) and faculty (30) slated to lose their jobs because of B.C. government funding cuts.
The crowd called on the B.C. government to restore massive funding cuts made last March and deliver promised operating funds for its upcoming budget.
CUPE 3338 president Joann Field predicted that “there will be no true public universities left in BC by 2012 unless the government provides a significant increase in funding to post-secondary institutions.”
CUPE 3338 business agent John Bannister pointed to the hiring freeze at SFU prompted by the budget squeeze. “Positions are not being filled and yet the BC government is pushing SFU to increase enrolment. This puts even more pressure on existing staff and threatens the quality of education for students.”
Bannister said rumors are rife on campus in the wake of what he called “chronic underfunding” that entire departments such as Women’s Studies are now facing the axe. Building upkeep and equipment are also suffering. “ A recent study on the state of the Department of Chemistry building determined it’s not safe for students or staff,” Bannister explained.
CUPE 3338 and 5396 represent support staff, student society staff and some custodial workers at the university. The rally was organized by the SFU Community Coalition, which includes CUPE and staff, teaching, trade worker and student organizations.