The Milton mistake

Karen Savoy / Sputnik Photography
Construction on the Milton campus.

It may be news to some that Wilfrid Laurier University is opening a campus location in Milton. This campus has been designed to be a STEAM campus, which is to say that it is focused on STEM and fine arts programs by the university. But how good of an idea is this really? 

On the official page for the campus, Laurier advertises the campus as “a groundbreaking commuter campus”, focusing heavily on small class sizes. In addition to this, a planned “expansion” of computer science and psychology programs is set to take place at this campus. I’m sure many of you are thinking it, but this is apparent to be yet another half-baked attempt in Laurier’s history of building campuses.  

Firstly, we have been shown that our university has no interest in building upon their established communities, such as Brantford or Waterloo, with this decision. In fact, the decision to “expand” the computer science program, which is based out of Waterloo, to Milton is another way for Laurier to wave the white flag to the University of Waterloo to say that they’re no longer interested in competing to provide a quality program, but they are instead more interested in capitalizing on a growing city’s increasing body of prospective students as a way to increase their financial gains. 

Secondly, the budget which will be required to provide a quality education even partially at this campus will only take away more resources from Waterloo and Brantford. Even the same language used to advertise Brantford programs, of which many are suffering from an extreme drought of available courses – with the campus’s digital media and journalism program being axed completely – should be a warning sign that this is a half-baked plan at best and a financial con at worst. Instead of investing their profits into more teaching staff to better support programs and the student body at Brantford, to actually give students the quality support they deserve, Laurier is, in effect, telling students that they give up and are moving on from Brantford. If the university were to instead expand upon either of their already established campuses, you would be hard-pressed to find a critic of this expansion. But the unfortunate reality is that Laurier is not going to do this.  

Lastly, the only apparent message from this unnecessary segmentation of the university’s programs is that the university wants to establish a network of campuses which only have one faculty at each. Brantford for liberal arts, Waterloo for business and Milton for STEAM. Not only does this harm students, but it also damages the quality of education at the university as a whole. It appears that long gone will be the days where a Liberal Arts major could explore options and minors in a vast array of courses. Long gone will be the days where a STEM major could easily and practically achieve a double minor in Business and Liberal Arts programs. Long-gone will be the days where being able to receive a well-rounded education from a vast multitude of disciplines is an option for students who don’t want to change their entire program and campus every year so they can experience the vast array of courses and programs our university has to offer. Simply put, this entire decision truly speaks to the need for a shake-up in Laurier’s leadership. The opening of a new campus does not benefit students, it does not benefit contract staff which will have to commute between three campuses and it most certainly does not benefit Laurier as a whole. 

This article was originally published in print Volume 23, Issue 1 on Thursday, Aug. 31.

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