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Student petition targets university administration

By Fabian Mayer, December 1 2015 — 

Students at the University of Calgary have launched a petition asking the board of governors to dismiss president Elizabeth Cannon, among other demands.

The change.org petition cites the MacHall dispute, the Enbridge controversy and spending on executive offices in 2013.

Upper-level administrators at the U of C have been mired in controversy since a dispute between the university and its Students’ Union over ownership of MacHall was made public in September. Further controversy arose in November, when a CBC report emerged outlining pipeline company Enbridge’s considerable influence in setting up a sponsored research centre.

First-year law and society student Frank Finley is one of the students behind the petition. He said it is meant to hold administration accountable for numerous scandals under Cannon’s leadership.

“It’s definitely not solely Cannon at fault here, however with the privilege and compensation for her position, she holds a majority fault if anything goes wrong,” Finley said.

At the university’s budget town hall earlier this month, Finley asked Cannon if she would resign. Cannon said she would not. Since then, Finley said he discussed the issue with students and felt a petition was necessary.

“There’s been such an outpouring of similar sentiment that I really feel like this is important,” Finley said.

Students’ Union president Levi Nilson said he understands students’ frustration with university administration, but believes it’s too early to call for Cannon’s dismissal.

“The leadership at the university, especially on some of the big issues we’ve been facing, I’m disappointed in. But I would say we’re not there yet,” Nilson said.

Finley isn’t sure if the petition will lead to Cannon’s dismissal or resignation, but hopes the board of governors takes action.

“It would show the rest of administration and administration at other universities that students have a voice, that we do have power and that you have to be accountable for your actions and decisions,” Finley said.

Finley said he doesn’t have a target number of signatures in mind.

“No matter if it’s 100 or 10,000 or higher, it will show some people are displeased with what’s happening,” Finley said.

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