Skip to main content

'Felt like we had been lied to': Hundreds rally against Brescia-Western merger

The voices of discontent rang out along Western Road over the noon hour Wednesday, as hundreds rallied in opposition of last week’s announcement that the all female Brescia University College will merge with Western University.

“We’re the only women’s, only post-secondary institution, and I think that’s something that’s really special,” said first-year Brescia student and rally co-organizer Alex Wild.

“A lot of us chose Brescia because of the smaller class sizes, it’s easier to navigate, it’s safer for women,” added Emma McBean, also a co-organizer and first year student at Brescia.

About 300 students, faculty, and supporters demonstrated at Western Road and Brescia Drive.

Some students say they enrolled at Brescia under false promises.

“The months and weeks and days leading up to this, we were definitely told one story, told that we were going to love it here for the next four years, it should be a safe space, a place for us to learn, to be valued, to grow,” explained Wild. “So only to find out a couple weeks later that wasn’t true, that was really devastating to all of us. It felt like we had maybe been lied to.”

The merger, announced last Thursday, affects roughly 1,500 students.

Rally held on Western Road on Sept. 27, 2023, to protest against the merger of Brescia University College and Western University. (Bryan Bicknell/CTV News London)

Brescia President Dr. Lauretta Frederking said the goal is to maintain the academic experience for Brescia students under the Western banner.

“We’ve always been a part of the Western family, so this is deepening that relationship,” she said. “So, looking to the student clubs, the students are guaranteed to have the same academic programs that they signed up for.”

The merger affects roughly 100 faculty at Brescia.

Faculty Association Vice President Heather Kirk said there will be job losses.

“Our faculty association is made up of a majority of contract faculty members and they don’t have the same guarantee of employment. So that leaves 70 people potentially unemployed,” said Kirk.

Rally held on Western Road on Sept. 27, 2023, to protest against the merger of Brescia University College and Western University. (Bryan Bicknell/CTV News London)

A number of other Western affiliate faculty associations were also represented at the demonstration.

Huron University College Faculty Association President Tom Peace said the move causes feelings of uncertainty.

“What we see in this sector are these radical announcements,” said Peace. “We also saw this at Laurentian University several years ago, and it makes a lot of us feel quite uncertain.”

Western University Faculty Association President Rachel Heydon said she was blindsided by news of the merger, “We were shocked and frankly we were appalled by the lack of consultation and information for a move like this that has such deep and wide-ranging implications.”

The merger takes effect in May of 2024.

“We want to make sure we can grow as student leaders,” said Wild. “We felt that way at Brescia, and we won’t get those opportunities at Western.” Top Stories


OPINION Advice on dealing with 'quiet hiring' in the workplace

In a column for, personal finance writer Christopher Liew tackles 'quiet hiring' -- a term referring to companies that quietly hire from their own talent pool rather than look elsewhere -- and outlines some tips for employees on how to take advantage of the practice.

Hamas frees 12 more hostages from Gaza as fragile truce with Israel holds

A fragile truce between Israel and Hamas held for a fifth day Tuesday, as international mediators in Qatar worked to extend it and more hostages were freed from Gaza. Israel came under pressure from the United States to better protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza if it follows through on its promise to resume the war.

Stay Connected