MUNSU delivers petition in support of engineering students

MUN Engineering Building crop
MUN Engineering Building crop
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The following is a media release from MUNSU:

The MUN Undergraduate Students’ Union (MUNSU) has delivered a petition advocating for fair wages, effective work term placements and the elimination of differential fees to the President of Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.


“We, the undersigned, recognize several injustices and barriers that students have experienced in the Engineering Co-op program with regard to differential fees, as well as work term placements that pay less than minimum wage.”

Students, especially international students, have found that an increased work term fee, sometimes coupled with low-paying work, higher tuition costs relative to local students, restrictions on how many hours an international student can work weekly, and the costs already associated with living in St. John’s as an international student, can impact both their academics and wellbeing.

MUNSU, are recommending the following changes to the Engineering Co-operative Education program at Memorial University:

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  • All students, both local and international, only pay a fee of $600 for
    each work term;
  • All work term placements must pay students an hourly wage of at
    least the provincial minimum wage, which will be increasing to
    $15.00/hour on October 1, 2023;
  • All work term placements must be somewhat relevant to
    engineering.

The petition contains 797 student signatures, representing 69% of the Undergraduate Engineering Student Body.

Students delivered the petition to Dr. Neil Bose, President of MUNL, Dr. Jennifer Lokesh, Provost of MUNL, Dr. Octavia Dobre, Interim Dean of Engineering and Dennis Peters, the Associate Dean of Engineering.

MUNSU Executive Director of Campaigns Jawad Chowdhury says, as an advocate for fair and just education, it is deeply concerning to hear about the struggles faced by Engineering students at MUNL in terms of gathering the funds necessary for their cost of living, tuition, and other necessities. The imposition of differential fees and unjustifiable co-op fees is a clear indication of the university administration’s prioritization of profit over the well-being of students.

Furthermore, the exploitation of Nursing, Social Work and HSS students through required unpaid work terms highlights the systemic issues within the institution. These practices must be immediately addressed and rectified to ensure that all students have access to quality education without financial burden.

As MUNSU Engineering Student Representative, Nicolas Keough says that Engineering students are frustrated by differential fees and work terms that pay less than minimum wage. These practices perpetuate systemic inequalities and exploit vulnerable student populations, such as international students who are disproportionately impacted by higher fees based on their country of origin. It is time for a larger conversation to be had about unpaid work across all faculties, including nursing, and for concrete action to be taken to address and dismantle these unjust systems.

Following the receipt of this petition, MUNL Interim President Dr. Bose committed to discussing the demands with the advisory committee to the President and pursuing a reform of the co-op office practices at MUNL. MUNSU can be reached for comment via resource@munsu.ca or via (506) 469 4658.

For Further Information:
Kat McLaughlin, Resource Coordinator
506.469.4658
resource@munsu.ca

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Anasophie Vallée
Anasophie (she/her) is a 3rd-year Communication Studies and French student at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. She is very passionate about advocating for human rights, mental health awareness, and inclusivity both within the arts and in our community as a whole. Anasophie is eager and honoured to be Editor-in-Chief of the Muse. She has written for both the Muse and the Independent and is excited to be a part of such an amazing team. Anasophie is also an avid member of the NL arts community, having danced for years with Kittiwake Dance Theatre. When she is not writing or working, Ana can typically be found reading, cooking, or seeing a local production. If you have a tip or question, reach out to themusechief@gmail.com