The fallout from the poorly-planned Neuroscience eviction keeps piling up…

 

Yesterday, the Physics Society, Earth Science Society, Neuroscience Society, Math Society, and Carleton Science Student Society were given 2 weeks notice that they will have to vacate their student offices for the remainder of the year.  This is due to the fallout from the Neuroscience eviction, and once again highlights the lack of planning and consultation that has marred this process from the start.

The Carleton Academic Student Government society (CASG) issued a statement regarding this most recent set of evictions…

“However, we believe that the Neuroscience eviction, and the consequences it has had on these academic Societies and their members is something that could have been avoided with proper planning and consultations.”

Lack of consultation is the hallmark of this administration, unfortunately.  Now the shoe is on the other foot.  But where were you CASG, when we sought out your support for our motion in Senate?

Similarly, the Science Student’s society (who also refused to support our efforts to stave off the eviction) posted about their disappointment with this decision on their Facebook page:

“We were given less than two weeks’ notice that all our property must be removed by the 15th of February.
We acknowledge and wholeheartedly know the importance of seamless access to professors by their students; however, it cannot be said that this will be without consequence. The decentralization of our workspaces will undoubtedly have negative effects on our programming capabilities for the science community at Carleton University.
It was indicated by the Dean of Science that this option had been an option prior to our notification. We wish the administration had found it prudent to consult us and hope that in the future they will on such important subject matter.”

Given the ongoing fiasco with Neuroscience, it is stunning that the administration would continue to refuse to consult and engage with affected its stakeholders before making major decisions regarding building space.

“Alternative Facts” live on at Carleton

Apparently, the phenomenon of “alternative facts” is not restricted to the Trump Administration.

In the Neuroscience Update of November 30, president Runte went on record stating, “Over the summer the vice-president (Research and International) and his staff met with researchers in Neuroscience and made a list of their needs”. This information was flatly refuted by the Neuroscience department chair, John Stead, in communications to the administration. No such meetings took place, yet a correction was never issued. Moreover, the statement implies that the department was aware of the impending move over the summer, but the first suggestion of a “possibility” of a move were not conveyed until mid-September, and these did not come from the VP Research and International.

The same November 30th update indicated that “Space has been secured today. The University of Ottawa has graciously agreed to make labs and other space available to us.” In truth, only animal care space had been secured at that time. It is now February 14th and, as of this writing, we still don’t have a signed contract with ANY institution in Ottawa for lab space (this includes the Civic, The Royal, and U of O). And yet we are supposed to move out by March 1?  If I was moving from my apartment, I’d have a new place secured more than 2 weeks in advance, never mind an entire research department! Is it any wonder that students are anxious, upset and have lost confidence in the administration?

The November 30th update also claimed, “This space is superior in quality to the present location. It meets all requirements and standards.” This is a classic example of a half-truth. Certainly the LABS are superior, if we actually had a signed agreement, but the animal care is not. Yes it meets standards for housing the animals, but it does NOT meet ALL requirements, because researchers were never consulted prior to making the arrangements. The agreement obtained far fewer animal rooms that we currently have, resulting in the inability to perform important studies in mental health and obesity research and electrophysiology. Thus, some researchers have sought out lab and animal space independently, at other institutions, and are now waiting on Carleton administration to sign agreements with these facilities.

Lack of consultation and poor planning has been at the crux of this whole situation, and yet no one from Carleton’s administration has acknowledged this critical issue, nor the deleterious effect it has had on students and faculty.  Instead of acknowledging that mistakes were made and apologizing for the lack of early consultation, president Runte tried to justify the lack of early engagement with Neuroscience by claiming the administration was bound by confidentiality agreements around the grant proposal.

In the December 2016 meeting of the Senate, president Runte stated that the Neuroscience department could not be involved in planning earlier than the November 11th notification due to confidentiality agreements around the Strategic Investment Fund application.  If such confidentiality existed, then why is it that other educational institutions could publicly state that they had submitted funding proposals to the federal government’s Post-Secondary Strategic Investment Fund (SIF), or were anticipating funding from the SIF for building construction projects as early as MAY of last year?  —  Laurentian (June 1,2016), Guelph (June 2, 2016), Seneca College (May 17, 2016)  Saint Mary’s (May 4, 2016).

It is clear there were no government restrictions on publicly divulging that a SIF proposal was submitted, thus the Neuroscience department could have been involved in planning for contingencies back in May, when the Carleton ARISE SIF proposal was being developed or at least in June, after it had been submitted. If this process had been managed properly and effectively, we wouldn’t be sitting here, 9 months down the road, 2 weeks from an eviction date, with a disgruntled department that has filed a union grievance, students who have lost all confidence in Carleton administration, and no signed agreements for alternative lab space.

Another Student replies to Malcolm Butler

Dear Dean Butler,

I am gravely disappointed, to say the least, by your response regarding compensation for disruption in research (first) and depletion of student morale (second) in the process of this unprovoked and severely aggressive displacement of the Neuroscience department.

Continue reading “Another Student replies to Malcolm Butler”

Another Student response to Malcolm Butler

Re: Answers to Questions Posed in December?

Malcolm,

While I understand that you have spent the last two months focused on ensuring that Neuroscience students and researchers have places to continue their research (in as much as they can with limited animal facilities), this does not waive your responsibilities to ensure students are fairly compensated for the lost personal time, stress and disruption to their research.

Had the administration consulted with the staff and students, from the start of this endeavour back in May, you would not have been scrambling in the last two months to find space for us and our equipment at the 11th hour. Indeed, the impact on our work could have been greatly reduced as we would have had time to plan our studies around the move, and perhaps had time to devise better options for continuing our animal studies.  Instead, students have been working nights, weekends and holidays to curtail key studies and complete experimental procedures ahead of schedule due to the uncertainty around future facilities and access to samples.

Continue reading “Another Student response to Malcolm Butler”

A Student Response to Malcolm Butler…

Hi Malcolm,

I would like to thank you for your email, while it did not address all of our questions and was not reflective of the tone in our meeting, tangible communication with the administration has been very difficult to come by. It is wonderful that so much work has been accomplished since we first raised the many issues associated with this project, however, it has been very apparent that this is a bottom-up planning process where we have constantly had to identify problems and requirements repeatedly in order to have them acted on. With less than four weeks to the move date there are still many, many details not yet finalized and it is highly evident that planning for this displacement did not begin until students began raising issues.

Continue reading “A Student Response to Malcolm Butler…”

Letter to Students from Malcolm Butler, Dean of Science

On December 1, 2016, the Dean of Science Malcolm Butler, and the Provost, Peter Ricketts, met with students to discuss issues, hear the student concerns, and answer outstanding questions about the impending eviction of the Neuroscience department from LSRB, slated for March 1.  Many of those questions, particularly around student compensation for this highly disruptive situation, remained unanswered for over 2 months. As the deadline loomed, the students again requested a written response from the Dean. Finally, on the evening of on February 6th, we received his reply (Below).  Continue reading “Letter to Students from Malcolm Butler, Dean of Science”

An Update on the latest “Neuroscience Update” from the President

Just before Christmas (December 19th), Carleton President O’Reilly Runte emailed yet another “Neuroscience Department update” to the Carleton community trying to assure everyone that all is well, and our interim move will be just a minor disruption to our work. (Why was it labelled “#1” when there have been at least 2 prior updates? But I digress…)  She also pointed out how important it is that they get this money. Apparently “Delaying renovations” is not an option. Because constructing new buildings and boosting the local economy are apparently more important than keeping those commitments to existing students and faculty.

Continue reading “An Update on the latest “Neuroscience Update” from the President”

Current and Future Neuroscience Research Under Threat by Federal and Provincial Governments and University Administration at Carleton University

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 14th 2016

Carleton University senior administration has decided to unilaterally evict the Department of Neuroscience from their current building to make way for a new building project that came about because of federal Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Funding (https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/051.nsf/eng/home) announced in April 2016. Our eviction is set for March 1st 2017. The Department of Neuroscience was originally slated to move to a new Health Sciences Building (HSB) during the Fall of 2017. This eviction was unanticipated, poorly planned, and a move of this nature with 3 months is unreasonable, particularly in light of a second move slated for later in the year.

Continue reading “Current and Future Neuroscience Research Under Threat by Federal and Provincial Governments and University Administration at Carleton University”

Neuroscience Eviction Impact Report

An Eviction Impact study was conducted via an online survey of students. Below is the summary of results.

The full report can be found here

  • The responders of this preliminary report were undergraduate students predominantly, followed by Master’s and PhD students. A small percentage of responders were prospective students.
  • 50% of responders referred to background information before writing impact statements.
  • Research impact statements highlighted the necessity that the responders are desperate for more time to do their research before the eviction. Responders also stated concerns about data invalidation and data loss. Responders third most frequently reported concern was about delayed ability to pursue future plans and goals.
  • Emotional health impact statements consistently stated that the eviction has caused increased stress, anxiety, depression, panic, and in two cases, suicidal ideation. There were consistent statements suggesting that students are ramping up work in relation to the March 1 eviction, and that they have fallen behind in their work as a result of being distracted by the prospect of the eviction.
  • Confidence in future statements indicated that students are very concerned about their productivity loss upon their research, publications, and delayed graduation. Equivalently, students were very concerned about missed educational and professional opportunities. Third, students were concerned about the financial cost of more tuition and debt as a result of lost research ability due to the eviction.
  • 79% of responders believed that their personal reputation will be compromised as a result of the March 1 eviction date.
  • The majority of statements indicated that the public reputation of Carleton University has begun to plummet, and that admissions will decrease as a result of news of the eviction. Responders also indicated a loss of confidence in the Senior Administration, and that the eviction will hurt the reputation of the neuroscience department unjustly.
  • A large group of responders had approached their supervisor about the eviction but needed more information to make plans. It should be noted that not all faculty were considered approachable on discussing the eviction from the student perspective.
  • Students were most disappointed by the fact that faculty had not been included on key decision making committees related to the move even when members of the faculty had requested this.