Urgent Request to Halt the Eviction of the Neuroscience Department

Subject: Urgent Request to Halt the Eviction of the Neuroscience Department
To: Chris Carruthers <chriscarruthersmd@gmail.com>, Roseann Runte <Roseann.Runte@carleton.ca>
From: Michael Bueckert
Dear Roseann Runte and Chris Carruthers,
I am writing to you as a graduate student representative on the Board of Governors to implore you to take immediate action to protect the research and well-being of the students and faculty in the Department of Neuroscience, by immediately halting their impending eviction from the Life Sciences Research Building.
As you know, at the December 1st meeting of the Board of Governors I brought forward an emergency motion to delay any move of the Department of Neuroscience until all stakeholders had a chance to be consulted and come to an agreement about a solution. The motion was defeated, after a discussion about the recently announced interim plans to move the Department to University of Ottawa facilities, under an agreement that did not involve any consultation. However, members of the Department have expressed that the interim plan does not address their basic requirements.

The Chair of the Department of Neuroscience, Dr. John Stead, as well as Neuroscience faculty and students, are warning that the short-term arrangement with the University of Ottawa is not adequate in terms of lab space and other logistical issues. Dr. Steads fears that “years of [students’] research and money will be lost” due to the disruption.

The disruption threatens students’ ability to publish, to hold and obtain research grants, and to progress and graduate on time. Students and researchers could have their research on hold for months. There is no comprehensive plan in place to address these concerns.
The issue is so critical that Neuroscience students are contemplating legal action to protect their research. A glance at the students’ blog clearly reflects a complete sense of betrayal and helplessness.

Carleton University has promised that any disruption will balanced by the “significant advantages for future students” of the Health Sciences Building currently under construction. However, the Department of Neuroscience has expressed that it is “very disappointed” with the current plans for the HSB, and that the HSB will be “grossly inadequate in terms of lab research space, student space, and vivarium capacity/animal testing capabilities” (p. 12). Further, it is my understanding that according to the current construction progress, the new Health Sciences building will not be completed until December 2017, several months behind schedule. There is no clear timeline or idea of exactly how and for how long the work of the department will be disrupted.
It is clear that there is only one solution available that could address these concerns and guarantee that the students and faculty in the Department of Neuroscience do not suffer undo hardship. Therefore, I ask that you immediately halt the process of eviction, and work out an arrangement whereby the Department will only have to move once, into the completed HSB.

This is the request from the head of the Department itself. Dr. Stead says that “the only fix we see is to try to delay start of construction in this building for an additional 9 months to allow us to move directly from this building into new building.”

This is also the position held by graduate students. On Friday, December 9th 2016, the Council of the Graduate Students’ Association voted in support of halting the eviction until a comprehensive plan for a single move is developed in consultation with faculty, staff, and students.
Everyone is aware that this may result in a loss of part of the funding for the ARISE project. This seems like a minor sacrifice, however, compared to the monumental sacrifice that the university is expecting of the students and faculty in Neuroscience.
The current crisis is entirely avoidable, and I expect that the University will act immediately to preserve the integrity of the department and protect the welfare of students.
Michael Bueckert
Graduate Student Representative, Carleton University Board of Governors

PhD Candidate in Sociology and Political Economy
Former President, Graduate Students’ Association
Carleton University