Supporters of Laurentian University demonstrating on Sudbury's Bridge of Nations
SUDBURY -- 'Save Our Sudbury' (SOS) held a demonstration Tuesday on the city's Bridge of Nations as Laurentian University's senate prepares to hold an emergency meeting about the fate of the school.
Laurentian declared financial insolvency on Feb. 1 due to more than $300 million in debt.
Through the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) process, the court has ruled that Laurentian is allowed to cut programs and lay off faculty.
On Thursday night, before the long weekend, Laurentian President Robert Haché announced in a letter that the university is terminating its agreement with three federated universities, University of Sudbury, Huntington and Thorneloe. This sent shock waves through the school community leaving students and faculty with much uncertainty.
In a news release sent out Monday night by Reuben Roth, an associate professor in the workplace and labour studies program at Laurentian, Haché's proposed restructuring plan will be discussed in a closed meeting of the school's senate on Tuesday.
The Save Our Sudbury group is asking its supporters to gather for a physically distanced demonstration on Tuesday beginning at 8 a.m. with small groups being given staggered start times in order to comply with the current provincial COVID-19 shutdown.
"SOS is demanding that president Haché keep the university federation intact, end the CCAA process, and call on colleges and universities minister Ross Romano to immediately fund Laurentian University," the group said in the news release.
The group blames ongoing underfunding for the current financial crisis at the university and is calling on the Ontario government to increase funding to the institution.
People taking part in the protest said they want the community to be aware of what SOS expects to be dramatic developments in the near future with LU's restructuring plan.
"The main message is the insolvency process through the CCCA that the university is using is the wrong one, the right one is through provincial funding, the message has to get through from the university to the provincial government that this isn't going to work. They are not going to accomplish the savings they need to save and have a recognizable Laurentian University when this is all over," said Richard Eberhardt, a protest participant.
SOS is demanding that Haché keep the university federation intact.
"I really want to support my faculty and the professors who help teach me. And let the administration know that I am not just going to stand to transfer into Laurentian University even though I been taking classes at Thorneloe or any of the federated universities," said Amitesh Guraya, a Laurentian student.
Another student shared worries about completing what she started.
"I am out here because I am a third-year gerontology student being directly impacted by the termination of the agreements with the federations. I am out here because I want to have my voice heard. If this decision is made, I won't be able to graduate and I will be forced to take another program at a different university," said Katharine Champaigne, LU Student.