Campus to close despite protests

Campus to close despite protests
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The battle over the closing East York campus appears lost.

After the valiant fight students, the Board of Governors passed the recommenda to close the campus on June 1, although they agreed to study the matter further.

Three student representatives gave a presentation to the board meeting on April 12, but after many questions and discussion, the closing is still scheduled for June. The board is considering, however, how to make the move to Progress easier on students.

The meeting was held in the O’Donnell room in the hospitality management centre to accommodate the crowd that came out in support of the students. Library and A/V personnel were also out to support students and have their petition protesting their layoffs placed on the agenda for the next meeting on May 10.

Some 65 students and staff listened intently in the crowded room as SA president Joe Braini, vice president at East York Dave Sibley, and student representative Terrance Dineen formally protested the campus closing. The campus is closing in June until September of 1991 for a major overhaul to create a new communication arts centre at the site.

The students used figures from the board’s own impact survey which shows that 48 per cent of the 161 students surveyed will not be returning to Centennial, and that another 32 per cent will attend Progress “but with difficulty.” The survey, which asked students how the board could help the move, was only given to full-time day students. Part-time and night students were not included.

Even with 80 per cent of the students not happy with the move, Centennial president Bev McCauley still recommended the June closing date even though he admitted that construction on the site won’t start this fall.

Students are mad that the college is moving them out, but has signed a contract with Playing with Time Inc. to film Degrassi High (the graduated to high school version of the award-winning television program) from May to December of this year.

Dineen said that even that extra time could help students prepare for the move. He said the students are more upset with the way the college handled the situation than with the actual move itself.

“We can see the need for a face lift to the school,” Dineen said, “So we’re not against that, we’re against the way we’re being shoved out right now.”

The students feel that they had a contract with the school before the production company, and that the president should honor the contract he made with the students when they came to Centennial.

In his welcoming address to the students in the 1988-89 student handbook McCauley wrote, “when you join Centennial College, you become a partner in a contract for excellence in education.” The students are holding him to his word.

In his presentation, Sibley said, “As Centennial College students we feel betrayed, misled and certainly lost by the methods these administrators chose to inform their partners in a contract.”

Dineen said that if he had known that the East York campus was going to close he would not have come to Centennial.

“If I had been told when I was going to register that two years into my education they were going to switch campuses on me,” Dineen said, “I would not have signed up with Centennial.”
The students also raised concerns over transportation to Progress and early class schedules that the board is considering to ease the move for students.

In their presentation, students called this adding “insult to injury.” Sibley said that not just East York students would use the shuttle bus service, so it would become a selling point for the college. He also said that later class starts mean later finishes and this would hamper students who are working their way through college.

The students also suggeted free parking passes for the people who have to drive the extra distance to Progress; free books because currently their classes are so small they don’t need books, Dineen said; and possible financial help with tuition and TTC passes.

The board agreed to meet with the students at a later date to discuss the possibility of some kind of compensation, and even the possiblity of a later closing date. But for now the East York campus will close on June 1 of this year.

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