By Greg Owens
Completing an honours research project is difficult enough with all the resources and supervision you need. But what happens when the facility you are supposed to do your research in is set to be closed down right in the middle of your study, and no one has any answers as to why this is happening?
This is the unfortunate reality that I find myself in, as a fifth-year neuroscience and mental health student here at Carleton University.
By now, you have most likely heard about the impending March 1 eviction of the department of neuroscience from the Life Sciences Research Building. This building is not only home to my department, but is the lifeblood of our university’s fastest-growing area of research, including the labs used by more than 80 students completing honours theses and graduate studies.
An additional 500 students are a part of the neuroscience program here at Carleton, and nine laboratories that are completing research in important areas like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, stroke, depression, and schizophrenia rely on our current space to produce critical results.
These labs also house more than $20 million of equipment and many dangerous substances. Any attempt to move them without proper preparation will inevitably delay important research and potentially destroy years’ worth of work.
However, this move is indicative of a larger-scale problem here at the university that threatens the future success of students. This eviction has been ordered by senior administration with little to no consultation from anyone who uses the labs.
Instead, decisions have been made behind closed doors by senior administration, despite claims to the contrary. The depressing reality is that this is not an anomaly when it comes to how senior administration handles community consultation on this campus. Case and point:
Senior administration walked away from the consultation process for the pending sexual violence policy last year before moving the task of drafting this document from Equity Services to the Office of Student Affairs. This means that the office where survivors of sexual violence are supposed to receive support is not being entrusted by our school’s senior administration to create sexual violence policies.
The Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) was left out of many conversations between CUSA and the administration regarding the potential Student Union Building on campus, according to executives of the GSA.
The mental health framework, which was mandated to be revisited every year when developed in 2009, only had its second version launched this year due to persistent pressure from students.
Tuition hikes have continually passed through the Board of Governors despite the cries of students crushed by their growing debt.
Carleton’s fraternities and sororities were banned from tabling spaces in the Unicentre atrium and Residence Commons with little consultation or prior warning from Student Affairs.
So should we be surprised when administration decides to displace an entire department and students doing research without regards for their current or future academic success?
Indeed, I may not be able to finish the thesis course I have already paid for, or finish my degree on time, and I am both angry and disappointed. But this reality doesn’t nearly upset me as much as the fact that this is just another example of how little senior administrators respect student stakeholders as the reason this university exists. θ