Member of MRU Board of Governors resigns from position
By Nathan Woolridge, News Editor
Roberta Lexier resigned from her position on the board of governors at MRU after the board voted to increase tuition by seven per cent for students in the midst of provincial budget cuts and changes to post-secondary education.
On Feb. 24, the board of governors at MRU voted to approve a seven per cent tuition increase for next school year.
Lexier says her resignation came the next day after the board approved the tuition increase.
“We do this job for the students and I can’t put responsibility for the cost on some of my students and force them to bear the brunt [of it] and to see so many of us students not be able to access higher education,” Lexier says.
For Lexier, she feels strongly about advocating for students, especially during a time when the provincial government appears to be making university students, faculty and staff “feel very devalued.”
She is also critical of the new performance-based funding model and says she couldn’t support MRU’s support for the changes to post-secondary education funding.
“I think it’s going to create financial instability and insecurity. For me, I cannot support that position. I think this funding model is going to be a huge catastrophe for the institution,” Lexier says. “If I stayed on the board, I would have to support even passively their position that they took on this. I felt I just couldn’t stay on a board of governors that had decided to acquiesce to this funding model that I think is going to have devastating effects on Mount Royal and on public education in the province generally.”
Lexier, an associate professor in the department of general education, says she studies student movements in the 1960s and has learned a lot about “how universities function and the governing structures and why people want representation.” She adds in her experience, she’s noticed Alberta to be a province with little to no movements happening to oppose or inspire change.
“In this province there’s always a lack of protest movements and social movements, or at least they tend to be marginalized in a large sense,” Lexier says. “There’s an attitude in this province that we have to work with the government or we’ll get punished in some way and I think that comes from 45 years of one government.”
Lexier hopes there’s a chance for those affected by tuition increase to come together and resist.
“For me it was about solidarity and knowing that we’re all in this together. The faculty are here with the students, so the students should be here with the faculty,” she says.
So far, Lexier says many people have been reaching out with positive feedback and support. She says students and her fellow faculty members have been commending her for saying what they have wanted to say.
“I wanted to make a public resignation [because] I think people need some inspiration and just a sense that we can do this. We can fight. We can stand up for what we believe in and we have an obligation to do so, especially faculty members when we have tenure. We have that responsibility to stand up and speak out.”