Keep Algonquin College Academic Upgrading at the Smiths Falls Campus Open!

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It appears that Algonquin College is preparing to vacate the community of Lanark County. This is following the “program intake suspensions” at the Perth Campus announced last March. By calling the move “intake suspensions,” Algonquin College President Cheryl Jensen can essentially bleed the programs out, cancelling the programs in Perth without actually having to officially cancel them and follow the proper policy and procedure for such a decision. The thought that the Perth Campus is simply suspending programs to allow for more relevant programs is NAÏVE, at best. President Cheryl Jensen is making another shady move, which underscores the possibility of the Perth Campus closure. She is attempting to close the Algonquin College Smiths Falls Campus, behind close doors, telling staff to keep the announcement, hush hush. Professor and program coordinator at the Smiths Falls campus breaks her silence;

“On March 12, 2018, my staff and I were told by my manager that, as a result of the implementation of Bill 148, the academic upgrading program in Smiths Falls and Lanark County was slated to be closed. This was the first time I had heard that the program was even being considered for closure. At the time, my manager did not have a definitive time frame as to when the program was slated to close, but she thought it could be the end of June of this year. We were, therefore, instructed to keep this information out of the public ear until more information could be gathered. My manager also informed me that, because this site is funded through a contract with MAESD, the College would need to have a conversation with the Ministry before making a final decision. Last week, I learned that apparently a conversation has occurred between the College and MAESD, but I was not informed of the results of the conversation. I have asked my manager and my union president, and neither have been able to get any answers or updates for me as to if and/or when this site will close. 

Since March, my staff and I have kept quiet about the pending closure. We have kept daily activities to business as usual and, as such, have continued to accept new students into the program. These students believe that, if necessary, they will be able to continue their upgrading courses into the fall at this site because that is all we can tell them. We feel like we are lying to our students. For my part time staff, being left in limbo is very stressful. They are unsure if they should be looking for other work. They enjoy their work at the Smiths Falls Centre and are distressed that no one is giving us any information. I am starting to see a lack of enthusiasm in my staff which I have never experienced before. The not-knowing is the hardest part. 

Furthermore, the seven other Algonquin programs that were recently suspended were made public in March. Since then, these programs have had the opportunity to rally public support in defense of not suspending the program. Because our announcement has yet to be made (or even decided), we have not been given the same opportunity to rally public support. I am certain that we would be able to generate a lot of support from the public, current and former students and staff, and referring agencies and support networks if given the opportunity.”

Read full statement here; Letter to Board of Governors Pending Closure of the Academic Upgrading Program in Smiths Falls and Lanark County

We must speak up and prevent this publicly funded College from leaving the rural community in the dust. Just like the Perth intake suspensions, the Smiths Falls site closure will spell economic and educational disaster for the community. If president Cheryl Jensen wants these programs gone, she needs to go through the proper Board and community consultations. She is otherwise undermining public trust and the Board of Governors. The Board and all impacted needs to consider; Who is really running Algonquin College? Sign and share to show your support for the Smiths Falls site of the Algonquin College Academic Upgrading program.