The following letter has been sent by the GSA Executive to the Carleton administration.

To:

President Rosanne Runte and Vice-President Finance Duncan Watt
CC: Dr. John Shepherd, Dr. Wallace Clement, Dr. Langis Roy and Dr. Andre Loiselle

RE: Proposed OGS claw back

Dear President Runte and VP Watt,

I am writing to express urgent concerns from the GSA Executive about an impending claw back to Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) recipients at Carleton University.

Dean Shepherd has recently informed the GSA Executive that the university can no longer afford to make their $5000 contribution to the $15 000 OGS given that the province of Ontario continues to increase the number of awards. In response to this budgetary problem, Dean Shepherd has suggested that the FGPA has no choice but to make up at least part of the $5000 University contribution through already promised departmental scholarships. This claw back would begin for students who have already accepted their awards for September 2012. The OGS program represents a crucial piece of funding for graduate students in Ontario, particularly given steadily rising tuition fees and the increasing competition for fewer tri-council awards.

We believe that the withdrawal of promised funds from students who are enrolled for September and currently operating under the false pretense that they have won $15 000 would be a reckless and ill-advised decision for Carleton. If Carleton would like to proceed with this claw back of an external award, this must be an upfront and transparent process and should be the subject of a campus-wide conversation. Students who are applying to both OGS and to Carleton should be made aware of this policy prior to the application process and certainly before they have accepted an offer to Carleton or accepted an OGS award. The OGS represents one of four maximum years that a graduate student may be funded by an external award, including tri-council, and the decision to accept the award at a reduced value of $10 000 will not be taken lightly.

Winners of an OGS award for 2012-2013 will soon receive notice from the FGPA that their award value has been decreased, but the amount of the decrease will not be determined until the total number of OGS winners has been finalized. Students may have to wait until September to learn the final value of their OGS and may well regret their decision to attend an institution where they face such uncertainty. This news will arrive in the context of several pieces of bad news for Carleton students, including the recent attention give to the TA overpayment and claw back. At the GSA, we have already received correspondence from several students who feel that they have been deceived by Carleton. Dean Shepherd has justified the decision to go forward with this claw back because otherwise he will have no choice but to cut from the recruitment budget. However, the GSA Executive believes that recruitment will be adversely affected by the negative public relations resulting from another claw back at Carleton. Further, students have yet to be officially informed, and in the two weeks since they learned they were successful in the OGS competition, have been making crucial decisions about which university to attend while making large financial decisions about their coming year based on false information.

The GSA Executive believes that it is the role of the President and Vice-President Finance to prevent the claw back from affecting 2012-2013 winners. Graduate students have demonstrated time and again their willingness and competency at organizing against threats to post-secondary education, and this case will prove no exception. The GSA Executive has no choice but to fulfill our responsibility to our members and alert them about this impending claw back.

Sincerely,

Holly Gilroy
GSA VP Academic