We are horrified about the events unfolding in Ukraine and send our thoughts and well wishes to all the faculty, staff and students worried about loved ones there. The VCCFA sent a donation of $1000 to the Red Cross for humanitarian aid, and we thank the members for supporting that initiative.
Fund it, Fix it
The VCCFA Executive recently endorsed the BC Federation of Students Fund it, Fix it Campaign. We applaud the students on this important initiative.
Our Funding Conference
On March 1, we held a virtual event about various funding issues in Post-Secondary. Our Vice-President, Frank Cosco, spoke about the VCC context and the funding situation the Board is well aware of. A colleague from North Island College spoke of the unique challenges facing rural institutions. Alex Hemingway from the CCPA summarized his talk in his title, “BC can afford to invest in the common good (and can’t afford not to)”. And Dale McCartney from University of the Fraser Valley spoke about the history of International Education in Canada, and how the introduction of differential fees made education, “something that was sold on a global market” and that contributed to a shift “to see[ing] education through its value to the economy, not to students.” Please let me know if you are interesting in viewing the slides from any of the presentations.
Food Insecurity and International Students
Recently we learned of one department in the college, Hospitality Management, which is finding ways to support students who are facing food insecurity. Here is some information about an event the department is hosting:
The Hospitality Management Department is hosting an event for the International Students. Some students reached out to Willy Aroca (the Assistant Department Head) to address their struggles. Subsequently, we applied to the EDI Committee for a micro grant to be able to do something for these students. VCCFA also helped and we received some money from the Hospitality Alumni Association. Therefore, we are hosting our first Hospitality “Community Connections” Event to address the students who reached out about food insecurities. We have Elder John coming to start with a Sharing Circle as this event is all about sharing our cultures.
I am certain the problem of food security is not limited to one department. This issue should be no surprise to anyone; it is all over the news that International Students often come from poverty, and many families sell the farm, literally, to fund their children’s education in Canada. Everything rides on this decision. Then kids come here and this city is extremely expensive, housing is ridiculous, the cost of living is rising. The situation is likely to be extremely difficult to navigate.
We are in a bind at VCC, as we actually need to increase the number of International students because we need the money. But it behooves us to examine the full costs of these decisions. How will VCC support hungry students going forward?
This issue is related to the point Dale McCartney made at our March 1 event. The introduction of differential fees for International students arose out of austere governmental budgets, became entrenched, and now is used to justify lowered governmental funding of institutions. As we know, VCC has been a small player in the International game over the years, and this is a choice administrators have made consciously and for good reason. Now, however, our financial situation at VCC is leading us to increase our International offerings due to the tuition fees International students bring.
Each time we approve high tuition for an International cohort, we should commit to fully supporting that cohort of students, many of whom will be giving up everything to embark on this program of study. How will we support them? How will we support faculty to support them?
I am happy to report that we have navigated our way through this difficult transitional phase, and that outcomes were relatively positive for the VCC H MT faculty, all things considered. Our thanks to VCC Admin for stepping in and helping negotiate a decent deal. Our best wishes to the HMT faculty who will be leaving VCC; we wish you bright futures. In addition, to the faculty who remain in the new HMT at Broadway, we hope the transition is smooth after the rough few years you have had.
As we come to the end of the second, and we presume last, deficit budget, we worry about the future. have a meeting with Minister Kang at the end of the month to raise our concerns and request not just input on the funding review, but a totally different funding model for VCC.
My thanks, as always, to faculty for their optimism, creativity, humour, and care for their students and colleagues. Thanks in particular to the Hospitality Management faculty and Department Head for rising to the challenge of food insecurity. And thanks, as always to my colleagues in the VCCFA for the support to do this work.