Fredericton — A long-running gag has finally become a reality. St. Thomas University will be merging into University of New Brunswick in time for the 2015/2016 academic year to permanently become the UNB arts department, similar to how University of King’s College is chained to Dalhousie University in Halifax.
As explained by STU President Dawn Russell, the merge makes sense in a lot of ways; the 2 universities share a campus already, and STU is struggling to bring in new students and find funding to maintain the institution’s operation. STU will now have access to UNB’s esteemed recruitment initiatives and advertising, as well as a larger student body from which to pull tuition. Nothing will change for current STU students, other than their degree saying “University of St. Thomas College,” and UNB engineering students lording their practical degrees over the arts students just a little bit more.
The steady decline in incoming student numbers for STU has put a strain on relationships with key board members and university stakeholders. With much media coverage in recent years of the alleged low success rate of students with liberal arts degrees, taxpayers have been unhappy with the province of New Brunswick — itself an underdog. The new Liberal government threatened to cut funding even more for the “little university that could” in an effort to appease the masses.
“It is a sad day, but if it means that STU can survive, this is the option we’ll have to take,” assured Russell, attempting to console the gathered crowd of tearful hipsters in the campus’s lower courtyard Monday morning.
“Current students will see no change in the cost of their tuition, unless they are international students. New students will see a $1,000 hike in tuition cost next year,” elaborated Russell, while a pained howl arose from the international students gathered in the crowd, whose future remains uncertain.
The UNB communications department is already hard at work designing new graphics of the STU logo with the famous red and black.
“I can’t believe this. My parents went to STU, my grandparents went to STU — this is the end of an era for the McTaggert clan,” bemoaned Shaun McTaggert of Miramichi, a first-year student intending to major in philosophy. “There’s no way anyone will talk to me at family reunions if I’m wearing a UNB-coloured letterman’s jacket.”
Many alumni have taken to social media to express dismay and anger at the announcement, with some offering to make donations to save the institution. But the message is clear: too little, too late. Any alumni donations now will only serve to cover administrative and logistic costs of merging the universities, as well as generous severance packages for the higher-ups in the STU administration.
“I think this is a good way to get rid of the rivalry and animosity between the 2 universities,” said fourth-year UNB student Hayley Fernton, a political science student who describes herself as a pacifist on her Tumblr page. “And now STU can have a men’s hockey team that actually wins,” added Fernton in an uncharacteristic low blow, being high-fived by her classmates.
High school students from outside the province were contacted by Manatee staff to see how this would impact their choices after graduation, but most thought that STU belonged to UNB already.