How Much Does a Hand Weigh? Or, Cuts “Modest”

Thank you to everyone who has signed on to the petition for sustainable funding for the University of Alberta and the freezing of tuition fees.

The Petition originates from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta because for us the 2%-cut to which every Faculty is being subjected for the 2011-2012 year is anything but “modest.” The cut is certainly not modest when viewed in the context of the series of cuts to which the Faculty has been and is being subjected. All departments in the Faculty of Arts had to cut their departmental operating budgets by 50% in 2009-2010. That is when the Department of English & Film Studies (for example) had to cut its phone lines. And the Faculty of Arts is scheduled to be subjected to an additional 2% cut for 2012-2013. The two current rounds of cuts together involve the loss of a significant number of support staff and faculty. (Faculty “lines” or positions will be permitted to close as faculty members retire.) We would choose an adjective other than “modest” to describe what these cuts, year after year for the last few years, add up to for the Faculty of Arts. And we are hearing from members of other Faculties — Science, Education, and now Engineering — that as far as they are concerned the 2% cuts all round this year are not “modest” for them either. 

To this end we cannot help but wonder how much a hand weighs.

Is there any chance that a hand constitutes roughly 2% of a person’s weight? Or 4%? 

Perhaps one of our colleagues in the Faculty of Medicine could confirm! We’d be happy to hear the weights with or without blood coursing through the hand.


We are certain that our colleagues in Medicine can confirm that the severing off of even an apparently minor body part such as a hand can lead a person to hemorrhage to death, or that there will be such damage done to the entire body until the flow of blood is staunched and the part restored that the person may never be quite the same again.

We would therefore like to draw everyone’s attention to the fact that the first of the Petition’s demands is entirely consistent with what the members of the University of Alberta are told by the Administration: that we must all always be asking for a minimum 4% increase to the Campus Alberta Grant so that the University may “break even” with its current operating budget. If this demand is met by Alison Redford’s government, all institutions of post-secondary education across the province will benefit in immediate ways. Even more importantly,  if this demand is met by Alison Redford’s argument, all Albertans will benefit. 

They will benefit because our universities are the site at which we create and cultivate the ideas and technologies that bring a better future into being. We’re hoping that Alison Redford’s government will have the vision to see that public investment in Alberta’s public institutions of post-secondary education at this time is the way forward to a stronger Alberta cultivating diversified resources, and first and foremost the resources of the talented people at its universities, including its students and support staff. In direct support of students, the petition also calls for the freezing of tuition fees.

We urge you to join us in signing on to the petition.

Please put your hands to work for ours!

Here’s the link for the petition:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/854/477/873/.

Speak, gentle niece, what stern ungentle hands
Have lopp’d and hew’d and made thy body bare
Of her two branches, those sweet ornaments,
Whose circling shadows kings have sought to sleep in,
And might not gain so great a happiness
As have thy love? Why dost not speak to me?
. . .
O, had the monster seen those lily hands
Tremble, like aspen-leaves, upon a lute,
And make the silken strings delight to kiss them,
He would not then have touch’d them for his life!

—Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus (1594)

#sustainUofA

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