A trip to North Bay to discuss the future of Nipissing’s campus in Bracebridge ended in frustration for a Muskoka contingent.
The group, which included concerned students, the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) and Town of Bracebridge staff, attended a Nipissing board of governors meeting last week, hoping to push for the continued operation of a campus in Muskoka.
“The meeting went as we expected it might, but hoped that it wouldn’t,” says Ryan Coyne, a Muskoka campus student who attended the meeting. “Several of our people had formally requested the opportunity to speak at the meeting . . . all of us were denied.”
After 20 years in Muskoka, Nipissing announced abruptly last June they were closing their Bracebridge campus, which was constructed in 2008 and had a residence building added in 2011.
Despite not being allowed to speak, Coyne says the subject of the Muskoka campus dominated the discussion. In the end, Coyne says the upper administration showed little interest in discussing any chance of saving the campus.
“The president has created the conditions within the board that very few are willing to speak against his wishes. It’s incredibly unfortunate for the university, and due process in general that this sort of behaviour is accepted,” says Coyne. “It’s typical of the kind of stubbornness that the upper admin has displayed throughout the process.”
In their original press release, Nipissing said the September 2015 intake would be the final one for the school in Muskoka. However, Coyne says there has been little other information offered since then.
“Trying to get any information from the admin in North Bay is an exercise in frustration,” he says. “As far as we can tell, the plan is to close the doors for good at the end of this semester. “
Coyne says if they continue to be stymied by the Nipissing administration, they will take their fight to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
Lynn Jacob of the CFWU also attended the meeting with several other members of the organization. Their request to address the board was also denied.
“We would have preferred a more positive outcome from the meeting but still feel it was important to attend,” says Jacob. “We now have some understanding of the dynamics of the board, which helps explain why such an unfortunate and ill-founded decision was reached.”
The median income in Muskoka is well below the provincial average, says Jacob, and a university campus is critical to helping people in the area find employment.
“For 20 years Nipissing has given Muskoka residents, many of whom for social or economic reasons cannot leave home, access to a university education,” she says. “If Nipissing cannot continue to do this, then we must find another university that will.”
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