The bittersweet goodbye to MTP: An Open Letter

Connor Malbeuf

Dear past and present MTP students,

I hate to say this. I really do. But the future of the Media, Theory and Production (MTP) program looks unpromising. Now, this is not me giving up at all. As the current MTP Liaison for the Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS) students’ council I spent seven weeks fighting for this program. But this is not about me, it about the silenced students of a well-functioning program and the administration who let down an entire student body.  

With over 50 emails back-and-forth with students, five students’ council meetings, two public statements, three meetings with administration, over 40 conversations with current students and five phone calls with notable alumni, this is me, admitting the reality; MTP cannot be saved.

The reason for the harsh dismissal of the program is because it was a closed door operation for so many years. The FIMS admin have claimed that the conversation about the dissatisfaction with the program has been going on for 13 years, yet the program is not even 15 years old. They claim that a majority of students were asked about their experience in the program from year-to-year. However, the students surveyed were drop-outs from the program. This means that there was a vast amount of students with a more positive outlook on MTP that did not get a chance to voice their experience. Also, the past three MTP Liaison’s and FIMS students’ council president’s claim they did not have any knowledge of this conversation even taking place. It is either a clear lack of communication or these conversations were not really happening. You are probably wondering why a faculty that teaches communication studies doesn’t communicate with their students. Talk about ironic.

Now, because the subject of the program’s discontinuation was behind closed doors, council and I missed our time frame to reclaim the program. The FIMS administration took all MTP information off the recruitment website before the program was officially dropped. How can they do that you ask?

Well according to the FIMS admin, it turns out that the Undergraduate Faculty Council can internally choose whether or not to recruit students into the MTP program. This is separate from the senate vote at the end of October to discontinue the program or not. This is yet another decision made with no students present, or MTP students for that matter. The President of the FIMS student council is usually present on Undergraduate Faculty Council meetings, but was not at the time of this vote. That means that no student representation was in on the decision. It also puts into question the senate’s true purpose. If the program cut was struck down in senate, it would not affect anything as FIMS admin has already voted to not allow enrollment for students in the upcoming year. Where is the fairness in that? If anything, the senate vote should precede the enrollment vote from the Undergraduate Faculty Council.

The FIMS Students’ Council released a motion in early October stating their concerns with the decision about MTP’s discontinuation. The motion and other articles ignited a serious issue of injustice within the FIMS community allowing students to voice their opinion on social media. However, despite hundreds of students commenting and sharing their stories about the benefits of the program, no one from the admin commented or even listened. I find it so disheartening to see so many people truthfully fighting for something they love and to see nothing done. This whole MTP discontinuation process highlights the overarching communication issue from our own administration.

First-Year MTP students were emailed on October 11th regarding the program cut. It is too bad the email was sent six weeks after it being public knowledge. The email states that the program has had ongoing “administrative and pedagogical challenges.” That seems to be a fancy way of saying that they are not effectively communicating with Fanshawe College. When did an administrative issue become a student issue? They also claim one of the reasonings behind the discontinuation is due to the “changing media landscape.” But by removing the diploma aspect out of the program it eliminates an abundance of opportunities for jobs in the broadcasting industry. I urge you to check any Rogers Media, Corus Entertainment, or Bell Media job posting online in radio, TV, graphic design or journalism. Most of them, if not all, will emphasize the benefit of a diploma. Even Ryerson graduates of the Media Production program are doing a postgrad to get more hands-on experience because the degree was not enough. FIMS admin is in the talks regarding a new production based program solely at Western. However, I personally do not feel that a four-year degree production program with minimal facilities and equipment is nearly as beneficial as the current set-up of MTP.

I feel lost. I feel beaten. I am saddened that the administration into which we all pay did not truly reach out to students. So many meetings went without student input and so many decisions left MTP students silenced. For those still in the program, I urge you to value what you are getting, because no one will get the education MTP students are gaining. We are extremely lucky to be in the position we are in. Take advantage of your years in the MTP program, as it truly is an indispensable education.

A grade twelve student who found MTP through LinkedIn messaged me on Facebook inquiring about the program saying how dynamic and interesting it looked. She asked, “How do you like your program?” I answered, “The program is a wild ride, but I love it.” She then followed by asking “I cannot seem to find it on the University application site, do you know why it is not there?” I hesitated, not knowing what to say then finally telling the truth: “the program is being cut – I wish it wasn’t, but it is. I am sorry.” How upsetting is that?

Ultimately, a program was cut under the radar with a lack of student input and our admin hoped people would not react. The best thing students can do is voice their opinions. Through talking to current students, alumni, and professors, it is clear how many people benefited from MTP. It is a true shame that others will not be able to experience that. #LongLiveMTP

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