In the late Fall of 2011, with the assistance and encouragement of colleagues in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta, I launched this website. We wanted a public space in which we could come together to raise our concerns about the cuts to the Faculty of Arts that we were experiencing that year, which were devastating, and which were, indeed, irrational, given that the University is operating under the publicly declared ambition of being one of the “Top 20” universities in the world by 2020. No university can be truly great without a fully flourishing Faculty of Arts.
As a result of the cuts of 2011–2012, we have lost many support staff members, and have been forced to close professorial positions. (The agreement was that the “lines” of funding available to hire new faculty would be permitted to “close” as senior colleagues retired. In other words, the Faculty found the means to meet the demand placed upon us for a$1.5 million cut from our operating budget with loss of faculty.)
We needed to be able to articulate our concerns, and we felt that our concerns should be made public. We believe in this just as firmly a year later. Faculties of Arts across the country must stand up for what we do, and where we are subject to cuts, must do so urgently. When the public doesn’t hear us articulating the crucial importance of our work in the face of cuts to our funding, we lose a vital form of support in their understanding.
A public campaign on our behalf is imperative in this time of crisis, which continues this year (2012–2013): we now know that the “sword of Damocles” that is hanging over our heads here at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta is a demand for further cuts of $1.1 million from our operating budget. But our fight is not simply local. We contribute to our local cause when we stand up to participate in the specific battle that we are fighting here, but also when we stand up for the humanities, arts, social sciences in general. So, please, use the Virtual Square to bring forward your concerns and point us towards resources, especially in the form of arguments for the humanities, arts, and social sciences being made elsewhere. And please do so no matter where you are. In the first instance, this is a Square for all members of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta, including students both graduate and undergraduate, but we welcome contributions from anyone, anywhere. And if you would like to write a guest post on either local, national, or international matters that pertain to our vitality as a Faculty of Arts or the vitality of the arts, social sciences, and humanities everywhere, please drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 c. . . . to convert into, draw up in, a square.
2 a. To multiply (a number) by itself.
3 e. To put oneself into a posture of defense.
4 a. To regulate, frame, arrange, or direct, by, according to, or on some standard or principle of action.
5 c. To arrange, adjust, render appropriate or exact.
II 5 d. To settle a debt (by means of payment). (And the debt, if there is any, is to us.)