A modest (draft change) proposal

A Swiftian approach to ending the suffering of staff and students amidst proposed education cuts.

Dear Ms Jagose,

It truly is a sad sign of the times when students, who are passionate about and committed to their studies, are forced to abandon their posts and protest, because you – who claim to care about their future – threaten their departments with extinction. I am of course referring to your disastrous proposal that will endanger many undergraduate and postgraduate FASS subjects. Let me be clear that despite our obvious disagreement, I have the utmost respect for you and your position. However, I am afraid that I can remain silent no longer. I have been forced to act.

It is my firm belief that by not announcing your decision on the proposed cuts, you are torturing the staff and students in these departments. You have spent the past year dangling this sword of Damocles above their heads, leaving the future of their jobs and studies in the balance. This sadistic ordeal must come to an end. That is why I have devised a humble proposition that you – if you truly care about your staff and students – will implement at the earliest convenience. The time has come to tear off this decrepit band-aid and finally dismantle the entire Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Let me be blunt. FASS has become a stain on this institution, providing meaningless degrees for students who do not deserve them. From the pamphlet-passing punks on Eastern Avenue to the showy champagne socialists of the SRC (another group that ought to be shut down), FASS students have made a mockery of this university. We grant these sub-standard students the opportunity to ‘study’ in these hallowed halls, yet this ‘studying’ is little more than a charade. Look into a FASS classroom and what do you see – students laughing, enjoying themselves and debating one another. I was under the impression that this was an academic institution, but it is clear that FASS sees it as a four-year bludgefest for these students to engage in “meaningful debates” and “critical thinking.”

These practices have no place in our university, Ms Jagose. FASS classes encourage people to question and reflect on what shapes and influences society. These students often emerge as “critical thinkers” who believe they ought to “hold power to account” – whether it be corporations, our Liberal government or the university Senate. Tell me, FASS students: if this thinking is so “critical,” why don’t you have a job? I rest my case.  

I have a confession to make to you, Ms Jagose – I have zero understanding about how money works. For all intents and purposes, I am economically illiterate. Given that you are proposing to make sweeping cuts to a faculty that is expected to deliver a surplus of $135 million this year, I would say that this is something we have in common. I know that you have been criticised for this, especially since the government dramatically raised FASS student fees last year, but I do not hold it against you. Rather, I admire you all the more for it.

It is clear that you, like me, are a dreamer. When we set our sights on something, we do it – regardless of the facts laid out before us. No matter how horrible the consequences may be for those in our wake, we understand that sometimes sacrifices need to be made in the name of our personal ambition. I understand that you are being promoted from Dean of FASS to Provost. Congratulations. That means that you will still have a job once this proposal is implemented, unlike all the casual staff who are currently saying their prayers beneath the guillotine.

But I am getting ahead of myself. These eggs have yet to hatch. As each day passes, FASS continues to fester, its students more outspoken than ever before. But I have faith in you, and I have faith that you will implement my humble proposition. Because I believe that critical thinking has no place on this campus. And given the way that you have acted in the past year, it is clear that you agree.

Yours sincerely,

A concerned student.