Blog 77

I have been away from the blogspace for a few weeks, perhaps for obvious reasons. May has been a wild ride so far, but I share with most members of the university community in the relief that the ride is going from warp to coasting speed for now. We have had some of the liveliest public discussions in a long while, and one should always welcome that opportunity, not fear or shy away from it. Debate is always necessary and good, if not always as graceful as we would like. It has ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime, animated by the pernicious reductionism of social media, driven by the sound-bite culture of modern media in general, and informed throughout by a strong current of anxiety here and elsewhere because we—Memorial and this province–have huge economic challenges.

Although much of the public banter has seen me at its centre—convenient for protesters and the gaping maw of media—and as personalizing and exaggerated as that coverage has and even continues to be, I have to say that I am deeply appreciative of lessons learned on this journey. No one has ever accused me of not having a sense of humour. That trait—gratefully acquired from my courageous dad—and the persistent, steady wave of support I have received in the last few weeks have buoyed me through some pretty dark moments. Now it’s time to give thanks.

And so, thanks to the Memorial Board of Regents, now comprising old and new members, who have shown care and caution throughout every minute of our deliberations. The BoR is deeply committed to Memorial and its future, to our students and their well-being. Members of the Board have persistently questioned and challenged the senior administration on our expenditures and our transparency—always respectfully and with intelligent, reasoned understanding of the complexity of both the institution and this historical moment. Thanks to the Chair for her courage, generosity, and sensitivity. Thanks all of you for your dedication and wisdom, and especially for always keeping students first and foremost in your sights.

Thanks to my colleagues at the leadership tables, especially the vice presidents, deans, and directors with whom I have worked so closely these last few weeks. I appreciate the commitment to team work, focus, and purposefulness of our shared efforts. None of us works alone. Thanks to MarComm for all your insight and good guidance. And thanks to the president for enduring his own huge share of the burden, for always showing confidence in the team and, most importantly, Memorial’s future well-being.

Thanks to Senate and the Planning and Budget Committee of Senate for the wisdom, respect, and engagement throughout the budget proposal process. Our governance processes are strong and necessary, and they are well in place to handle exactly the kind of exercise we have just experienced, albeit in a necessarily compressed time frame.

Thanks to the protesters who are keeping the spirit of resistance alive. I might not always appreciate the full-bore oppositional approach, but I was a student activist once, too, and understand the rage and frustration that fuel it. I also totally applaud the right and need to resist. Thanks for reminding me that an admittedly foolish, if totally honest, few moments of face-making reaction to a call to fire the president, can, indeed, go viral in our age. That gave the media a lot of useful filler, too, for which, I am sure, they are grateful. Thanks, especially, for reminding me what hateful demonizing, misogynistic, profane sites Twitter and Facebook can be. Twitter is especially forceful in turning a phrase or image into an opportunity for a vitriolic outpouring of hate, and for quick, censorious judgement. My inbox has never been so full of venom. (Mostly) male students/strangers from as far away as the USA have written me directly for me to resign or drop dead, whichever comes first—a useful reminder of the anti-women aggression that persists in our culture like a very bad smell. It is always wise to be mindful of it, as well as the nagging theme that, as some have put it to me directly, I am “not really from here.”

Thanks to the many students both current and former who have written me to express support of the university’s proposals in general and of me in particular. Eloquently written emails and texts of such support have helped dull the harshness of the attacks and the crude, personal denunciations, giving me perspective and reassurance. Thanks especially to those student leaders who have approached me personally and respectfully to share their own views, often in disagreement with dominant voices around them. That has taken a lot of courage, to put it mildly, and many of us respect and admire you for possessing it.

Finally, and with a lot of love in my heart, thanks to all the friends, feminists, my staff, colleagues, and community members who have written and continue to send me messages of courage. The day of the Board of Regents meeting I received a fruit basket from a retired colleague and his wife, with a card that said “Stay Strong.” Such profoundly human gestures have moved me to my core, reminding me what a wonderful community we belong to, how much we need each other, especially in hard times. Never has the cliché of strength in numbers seemed more real or meaningful. I have every confidence that Memorial will continue to thrive while ably serving the people of this province and beyond. For all of this I am grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “

  1. Doreen Dray

    I don’t envy your job, that of the Board of Regents, that of the President, or that of any of the other people or groups who are doing their best to manage a touch financial situation. I do appreciate your efforts, and the good grace with which you accepted the challenges by those who feel that they will be negatively impacted by any financial solutions. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  2. Donna Hewitt

    Yes, Ms Golfman, that is all well and good. But I do think your reaction to protesting students was disdainful and dismissive, not very professional, indeed. I enjoy listening to you and feel sure you are making a worthy contribution to the Board of Regents, however, I wonder if you don’t owe those students an apology or at least an admission you had acted inappropriately.

    Reply
  3. Judy

    Ms Golfman I saw the your reaction to protesters it was unbecoming and most likely an embarrassment for Memorial . It’s was unfortunate but shows the frustration on both sides. Having said that , I believe the message that is ringing out loud and clear though, is that these intrtnational students are only coming here because its cheap . I did not hear any foreign students mention that they came here for quality education. Is that the reputation Memorial wants to have ? I agree student tuition increases and appauld the adminstration for not including Newfounland (i hope ) born students. Newfounland students and there parents, grandparents have been supporting the institution there entire lives and deserve recognition and a break from the higher tuition . In terms of fees to off set and maintain infrastructure I agree all studets should be required to contribute

    Reply
  4. James Cheater

    Facing this issue ad nauseam is part of your job. In an age where student debt is at an all time high, how do you sleep at night/expect anyone in my generation to feel sorry for you? Mun may be the cheapest school in Canada, but that doesn’t make tuition increases justifiable. Be the school others can look up to, not just anouther part of the problem. You’re under a much needed microscope, and demonising social media is making you look more like a kook than causing the deflection you’re​ intending.

    Reply
  5. Alumnus

    Just ask a good communications/media relations pro next time. We can help, especially when the facts are no longer part of the conversation.

    Reply
  6. Nancy

    I enjoyed your post tremendously. It makes me feel like we have good people running the ship, especially when you obviously know how to keep things in perspective.

    Reply
  7. Disgruntled Alumnis

    My experience at MUN was abysmal largely due to poor treatment from your over-bloated and unhelpful administration, I can see where the corporate culture and attitude is spawning from via your reaction to the student protestors, it starts and the top and poisonously trickles downwards. There is so many administrative staff at the university who are profoundly bad at their jobs; I’ve had 3 different people completely mess up my degree audit, had admin tell me their faculty won’t offer medical accomodations to drop one course requested by doctors under any circumstances (I’m sorry this is not undue hardship to anyone), and when I wanted to switch programs and a coordinator overheard she had to hound me about how I’ll never have any opportunities if I switched out of the program (commerce). Much of the behaviour from admin during these intreactions was almost as immature as your tongue waving at protestors, very hostile and unwelcoming people. From my (very very very poor) experience at MUN St. John’s I feel you should consider looking at administrative deficiencies and bloat rather than make cuts to the delivering of educational services, flourishing the mind is the first and foremost thing that a university should do. My mind was not flourished at MUN. I am attending Grenfell campus now and there’s no comparison, it’s a significantly more well run and inviting campus that actually cares about students, and my program is significantly more well designed than the commerce one I unfortunately completed. Maybe the main campus can drop some animosity towards Grenfell and actually learn from them?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>