LETTER: In support of Quest | Squamish Chief

LETTER: In support of Quest

I am a Quest Student. My university was started as the brainchild of a genius, David Strangway. After serving for several years a the president of both UBC and the University of Toronto he concluded that it was time to revolutionize undergraduate education. Just like that, Quest was born. In 2007 we opened our doors to our first class. Students jumped on board before Quest was even accredited; they saw the value in the promise of student-centered, interdisciplinary, and immersive education. Thirteen years later, that promise holds true.

Each day, I sit in a Quest classroom I am asked to engage with complex ideas and question the world around me. I am not alone; in the National Survey of Student Engagement, we rank at the top of almost every category, including academic challenge and collaborative learning.

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Students of Quest are flourishing in a unique setting — something that we would not be able to get anywhere else. To ensure that this uniqueness is preserved, our board of governors has recently decided to apply for protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. Thanks to our current administration’s commitment to transparency, students are aware of the complicated financial history of Quest.

Obviously, this situation is not ideal.

However, many of us feel the decisions that led to Quest’s current circumstances were made before the time of those who are now calling the shots. Things have changed since then. Quest’s current board of governors is composed of world-class experts. We are led by one of the top lawyers in North America, Mary Jo Larson; an education enthusiast, Sheila M. Biggers; a business expert, Stuart Louie; a tax specialist, Claude Rinfret; a hereditary elder of the Squamish Nation, Chief Dale Harry; and a Quest alumnus, Anna Lippman. These experts are joined by our vice-president of finance and operations, Flora Ferrero; former vice-president of finance for Whistler Blackcomb; and our amazing president George Iwama.

They form a dream team that I fully trust to represent us. That being said, we are not sitting on top of the hill, actionless, waiting for the decision about the future of our institution to come out.

Mere hours after the announcement of Quest’s application under the CCAA, the student body came together to brainstorm mobilization strategies.

And now, with support from our extraordinary faculty and staff, we are writing letters to provincial ministers and MLAs, working to bring attention to our situation on social media, and showing our support at the court hearing on Monday, Jan. 27.

I am feeling the Quest community come together like never before. We are receiving letters from parents, alumni and prospective students declaring their support and unwavering faith; we are hearing words of solidarity from our friends in the Squamish community. Your support has meant the world to us and we hope it continues.

I am beyond grateful to see that in times of stress, we are not backing down, rather we are only getting stronger through our shared unity. It is for these reasons that I have no doubt we will make it through.

Vasilisa Urvanova

Squamish

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