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Attendance low at SFUO town hall meeting

Jesse Mellot | Fulcrum Staff

Photo by Justin Labelle

ON SEPT. 27, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) held a town hall meeting at the university centre agora. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss a recent document released by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities that proposed a number of changes to post-secondary education, including offering more courses online, shortening university degrees to three years, and standardizing curricula across the province.

The format of the discussion was question-and-answer style. One of the co-facilitators of the discussion, SFUO VP Communications Anne-Marie Roy, said it was important to inform students on these matters.

“A lot of the questions that we asked address some of the changes that [the author of the document] wanted to propose to the sector,” said Roy. “So I think that was very important to consult students and get their feedback. Essentially in a nutshell, what they are looking to do is to cut spending in post-secondary education, while still delivering post-secondary education to at least 70 per cent of the population.”

Sarah Jayne King, former SFUO vp finance and current chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students Ontario, was one of the panellists. She said she was concerned about aspects of the report, which was written by Glen Murray, minister of training, colleges, and universities.

“Murray proposed condensing a four-year undergrad into a three-year undergrad with three mandatory semesters with a third of your courses online,” said King. “I think that is going to have a negative impact on the quality of education.”

Turnout for the event was low, with approximately 30 students attending. Brian Rowley, Board of Administration director for arts, said the low turnout is primarily due to students being unaware of the impact these events have on them.

“These things, people know about them, but they don’t necessarily feel that it affects them,” said Rowley. “But this is something pretty important, so in that respect there should have been more promotion for it.”

The event was promoted by the SFUO via social media and classroom visits by SFUO executive members.

—With files from Keeton Wilcock