I am pi$$ed at the University of Guelph right now (and I have always been proud to be a grad from there) due to yesterday’s announcement that the University of Guelph is closing the Kemptville and Alfred campuses. But I didn’t go to Kemptville, so you may ask why I care. Here is why I care:
1. Hubby and many of my friends went there and it’s important to them.
2. It impacts youth I know personally. Feb. 1 was the deadline for students to apply to Ontario colleges. Kids who only applied to programs at Kemptville may not be able to go to school in the fall because they can’t apply to any other local programs that may be useful on the farm (business, science, food science, etc). For many, Ridgetown isn’t an option and they haven’t guaranteed to take everyone. Why was this decision not announced prior to that date? Today, I have heard that rumours started in western Ontario as far back as December on this. So they knowingly took applications (which do cost money to submit) when they were talking about closing the campuses. I know of a family who followed up on where the Kemptville letters were (they had received one from Ridgetown back in Feb.), they were told the computers were down and they couldn’t send out any letters. So the University of Guelph lied to them. What other lies are they telling?
3. On his blog today, Summerlee says fewer students were coming from the local area. What does he define as local? Is local 100 km? 200? what? Many students come from Central Ontario and Western Quebec to attend Kemptville for ag. To me, they are still local as this is the drawing area for the school. The horse program has always drawn from more than just the area as have other specialized programs. If enrollment is down, shouldn’t U of G be asking themselves why? What has the U of G offered at Kemptville to encourage people to attend? What other programs at the U of G have seen a decrease in enrollment?
4. I am a director on the Ottawa Valley Seed Growers and the last few years, we have contributed over $140,000 from the proceeds of the show to research and education at the College. Who now owns that building and if it is sold, will we get reimbursed? (of course not) We and many others donated in good faith so that our future farmers would benefit from it.
5. Obviously the University of Guelph is unable to run a viable, modern program at Kemptville and Alfred and don’t care to try. We now need to look to other organizations or businesses who can ensure these campuses remain an integral part of life, east of the 400. Did Summerlee and his staff bother to do this?
6. I am tired of people saying this is a Liberal thing, it isn’t, it’s a University of Guelph thing (unless this is a job creation strategy as parents may have to hire help because their kids can’t come home every weekend to work on the farm or other family businesses). I don’t support either party so my comment isn’t a partisan thing. I can only hope Premier Wynne, relevant ministries and ALL MPP’s will do what they can to help find solutions to this problem.
7. Ultimately, I’m mad because the lack of consultation or discussion prior to the decision being made shows a total lack of respect for the farming and ag community east of the 400 and Ontario agriculture in general. Summerlee says it wasn’t an easy decision to make but of apparently it was the easiest and the people making it are a 5 hour drive a way so it really won’t affect their lives shortly.