While I have been supremely lucky in my experiences at the University of Victoria, it isn’t a school that favours its Humanities or Fine Arts programs. It’s a school very much possessed of a corporate mentality that shows favouritism toward programs that draw in greater revenue and contribute to the school’s desired public image.
As a student of both Humanities and Fine Arts, I have witnessed the very real fight for their continued survival, partially manifest in the restrictions placed on professors to prevent them from teaching outside of their home department, due to a perceived financial loss. These are vibrant interdisciplinary programs that thrive on the mutual dissemination and sharing of ideas. By imposing these kinds of autocratic restrictions, you’re effectively crippling the essence of these programs at a loss to students, researchers, and professors.
Pitting faculties and their departments against one another over financial minutiae, when those fiscal concerns are small parts of the same greater whole, is counterproductive to the entire university. Community starts at home, and if the University of Victoria is to be truly great, it needs to reconsider why it’s disowning some of its most stalwart champions.
Humanities and Fine Arts are valuable resources that are blessed with some phenomenally gifted professors, not to mention researchers, support staff, and students. Fostering an environment that encourages openness, fellowship, camaraderie and respect between these faculties and their departments is as important as showing visible support for students and the community at large.
The consequence of UVic failing to recognize and support the inherent value of what they already have is a toxic environment, wherein everyone’s frightened, censored, or restricted from doing their jobs to their fullest potential because of the looming repercussions to their home department. As a student, I’m ashamed to see what my university deems acceptable behaviour. This devaluation of liberal arts education in favour of financial gain is an absolute perversion of the ethical duty of trust that should be implicit in academia, if not the spirit of academia entirely, and it must be addressed immediately in a meaningful way.