by Robyn Tocker
“University is a place you go to get answers,” says Professor Chris Yost. One of the answers he wants is where in the world the research money is going.
On Oct. 24, University of Regina President Vianne Timmons held a public forum to address the issues brought up at the council meeting. Yost spoke at the forum, voicing his concerns over what is happening to research on the campus.
When asked, Yost said graduate students are being underfunded and research in general isn’t being taken seriously.
“Our students do a lot of good research and they are not being as valued as they could be. They devote their lives to it.”
U of R teaching assistants, said Yost, are the lowest funded in the country. With the money already in the university’s pockets, Yost wants said money to go where it belongs: to the students. If it isn’t done, he fears the campus will lose a valuable component.
Timmons agrees that more needs to be done for research. She has committed $150,000 to research from the university’s contingency fund with an additional $330,000 distributed to the graduate students. This money will come from the Saskatchewan Innovation and Opportunity Scholarship program (SIOS).
“Research is a critical component of our university. We will continue to work and support our researchers.”
Timmons says a provincial auditor has been called as well as an external review to make sure the money is going where it is supposed to.
“We need to make sure the system and structure is designed to allow researchers to get the job done.”
Yet for graduate students like Ben Perry, a first year microbiologist, the reality of the situation is appalling
“I’d make more money flipping burgers.”
After paying tuition, Perry makes $850 for a 60-75 hour week, not including the amount of work he does on weekends. His frustration with the tuition hikes for graduate students isn’t surprising.
“It makes me feel unappreciated, like my work isn’t worth being paid more.”
What Perry and other graduate students are asking for isn’t much. An increase in salary and compensation would be nice, but Perry doesn’t hold much hope. Still, he wants to finish his masters degree and get a PhD which would, hopefully, lead to a professorship.
“It’s about the science. It sucks having this feeling of impending doom.”