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Brescia University College’s merge with Western University draws criticism

Fourth-year psychology student Joan Omar said she was shocked when she received an email that said that Brescia University College will be merging with Western University.

"In my years at Brescia, I never expected them to make a decision like that," said Omar.

That decision will impact nearly 1,500 students and dozens of faculty members who said they didn't see this coming.

In a statement posted online, Brescia's Faculty Association said in part, "We were blindsided by the news and deeply troubled by the way in which it was presented to us and to the public.” It continued, “The decision was made without consulting nor informing faculty, academic librarians, staff or student groups on campus.”

Brescia is currently an affiliate of Western, but it will be fully integrated into Western at the beginning of May 2024.

The move is something current students worry will impact Brescia’s ability to empower women.

"Women can go there and feel comfortable, knowing that it's a women's only university, they have other women around they can relate to, it’s easy to create friendships, it's easy to create those relationships with your professors,” explained Omar.

"We'll need to be very intentional about that as we go forward in order to preserve the spirit of that kind of comradery,” said Western University President, Alan Shepard.

Brescia was founded in 1919 with the goal of bridging gaps in women’s education.

“Opportunities for women continue and needs for women continue, and this campus will be a space for under represented voices,” said Brescia’s President Lauretta Frederking.

The arrangement will allow all Brescia students to complete their studies in their current program.

A petition has been started on change.org by a second-year student at Brescia, who is concerned that currently enrolled women will have to complete their studies at the main campus beginning next year.

Hermione Ramsay Speers wrote, "We are losing safe spaces and support. Women who are survivors of sexual assault choose this campus for safety and security and it’s being ripped out from under us!"

Western will assume all of Brescia’s assets and liabilities, will provide Brescia staff with employment offers and will establish a $25 million legacy fund that will support education through scholarships and bursaries.  

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