IMPACT OF LAURENTIAN UNIVERSITY'S FINANCIAL ISSUES ON STUDENT-ATHLETES

The issue:

On February 1, 2021 Laurentian University announced that it had filed for court protection from creditors, an unprecedented move for a post-secondary educational institution in Canada.  Click here for CTV news coverage of the story.

On April 12, 2021 Laurentian cut roughly 1/3 of its academic programs, and laid off over 100 faculty.  That same day Laurentian also "discontinued" it's men's and women's swimming and hockey programs.   Click here for CBC news coverage of the story.

While student-union groups across the country quickly reacted with calls to stop the academic program cuts (click here for a list of student-union groups who issued a statement of solidarity), no entity which claims to represent the interests of student-athletes (USports, OUA), made any comment or even acknowledged what was happening.  This underscores the built-in conflict of interest in the current Canadian University Sports model landscape, which is that organizations such as USports and the OUA ultimately operate in the best interests of their members...the universities, and not in the best interests of the student-athletes themselves.  

Which is why there is a need for student-athletes to have an independent organization which represents the best interests of the student-athletes, somewhere for student-athletes to turn and which will give student-athletes a voice in decisions which are being made which impact their lives, careers and futures.   That organization is the Canadian Student-Athlete Association.

In this case, in response to what happened, on April 14, 2021, the Canadian Student-Athlete Association sent a letter to Premier Ford, calling for the resignation's of Laurentian University President Robert Hache, Vice-President Academic and Provost Marie-Josee Berger, Vice-President Administration Lorella Hayes, Board Chair Claude Lacroix, Registrar Serge Demers, and Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano for their roles in creating this financial crisis. Click here to read the letter.

 

The letter further called for the launch of a complete investigation into this crisis, asked the Ontario government to cancel the company creditor arrangement that Laurentian University has fallen into, and further asked that all related academic and athletic programs that have been cut be reinstated and all staff cuts be rescinded.

What is happening at Laurentian is devastating to students and moreso to student-athletes (some who saw their academic program cut, and their team discontinued).     They need a voice.   The Canadian Student-Athlete Association is that voice.

What is happening at Laurentian also raises some significant questions.  Given the current economic environment and the associated impact relating to the pandemic, one has to ask "is Laurentian the tip of the iceberg"?   Are other universities/colleges (without it being made public) also facing potential financial difficulty?  If so, will the same thing happen elsewhere?  

What is being done to protect the interests of students, and student-athletes?  Are they again going to be told of cuts only after they are made, leaving a trail of devastation behind?

That is not right, and is not in the best interests of student-athletes.

Click here for Sudbury Star article "Canadian Student-Athlete Association founder calls for resignations...".

Click here for Sudbury.com article "Canadian Student-Athlete founder outraged at Laurentian cuts".