Langara faculty aghast at proposal to spend money creating new administrative positions

Department chairs say college's surplus funds should be used to increase student supports

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By JAMIE MAH

Faculty at Langara College have expressed concern about the college’s recent proposal to add five new associate dean positions for the fall 2024 semester.

Some faculty believe the new positions will remove work from faculty in favour of administration and that some of the college’s surplus will be used for administration rather than student support such as counselling, food banks and student fees.

Niall Christie, Langara Faculty Association director and history department chair, said he was frustrated by the decision to add new administration roles without consulting the faculty union.

“I find this quite bothersome actually,” Christie said, adding that the college was “going to add associate deans who would now be figures in the hierarchy … between the deans and the division chairs.”

Christie said he is unsure exactly what duties these new positions will have. Whether they will act as intermediaries between the division chairs who represent the faculty, and the deans, who represent the administration, is “not very clear right now,” he said.

The LFA and faculty found out about the five new positions in early October, soon after they had learned of Langara having a budget surplus of funds.

Melisa Hamilton, LFA board member and the chair of the biology department, said she is skeptical whether the addition of associate deans is the best way to spend surplus money.

“To me, it seems like if we have such a large surplus on the backs of international students, or students in general, it makes sense for us to invest that money back into student supports,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said there are critical ways in which the college could give back to students.

“Increasing access to counselling and accessibility services,” she suggested. “We could start an exam-writing centre. I think we need more tuition breaks or scholarships for our students, because it’s very difficult for our students to survive in Vancouver with the high cost of living.”

Christie said the college’s decision to add new associate deans is misaligned with what he believes the school’s values should be.

“The question that I have is, how far is adding associate deans something that actually improves the quality of education for the students?” Christie said. “I worry sometimes that among the senior administration, the basic mission of the college to educate students is sometimes being lost.”

The Voice, producing daily news this week, asked the college for comment but did not receive an answer by its end-of-day deadline.

Students had other ideas for the surplus.

Germanjeet Kaur, second-year associate of arts student, said the college should lower fees for international students.

“Because it’s way too much,” Kaur said.

John Ryan Harper Coombs, a second-year political science student, wants more space for students.

“More places to study,” he said. “We have a pretty decent library…but there’s definitely a lack of space.”

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