Open letter to students and the CSU

This was practically when the movement took root at Concordia. It’s my pleasure to give credits to Matthew Brett for initiating the process and being the architect there of. I was happy to be the enabler and having believed in him and his idea. -rushdia, April 2013.

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November 2010

Open letter to students and the CSU

We, the undersigned, call for a university-wide General Assembly to rebuild Concordia’s student movement in the immediate future.

The economy faces a shaky recovery after the most significant economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Budget cuts to health care and education are being implemented here in Quebec, and the Canadian government is set to impose significant financial austerity measures well into 2014.

In reaction to these measures, francophone universities and CEGEPs here in Quebec are currently engaged in general assemblies, strikes, sit-ins and other forms of action. It’s working.

Students are converging in Quebec City this December 6, when the provincial government is scheduled to introduce a province-wide tuition hike.

But the Concordia Student Union remains largely absent from the scene. Here at Concordia, the CSU has not issued a single statement regarding the provincial budget or the financial crisis. There is something wrong with this picture.

And while our frustrations are clear, we truly desire to work together with the CSU to build a stronger student movement. It is a shame that Concordia has no visible presence in the midst of widespread social unrest.

In Britain last week, students arranged a national walk-out and protest with some 130,000 people in attendance. Academic Saskia Sassen recently praised student efforts in California, Iran, Greece and Puerto Rico.

Students there, she wrote, “are doing urban agriculture, collective cooking, environmentally sustainable practices, art, music… in brief, they are striving to build the elements of a different society.”

Concordia students and organizations are actively building upon this new society, but continued support and collaboration from the CSU is absolutely essential.

Struggles against tuition increases and the recently signed contract
with Pepsi are necessary, but just the tip of the iceberg.

Concordia’s student movement needs to come together and take measured actions if it is to have any impact at the provincial, federal and international level. It is time we work together.

We, the undersigned, therefore call on the Concordia Student Union to organize a university-wide General Assembly during the week of February 14. We also call on faculty and staff, graduate, international and long-distance students to take part in this process. Enough is enough.

VERY IMPORTANT: PLEASE write your department or organizational affiliation NEXT TO your name. Thank you.

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/studentmovement/

Concordia Graduate Students Make History by Joining the Student Strike Movement

Published here for documenting purposes.

March 9th, 2012

PRESS RELEASE – For immediate release

Concordia Graduate Students Make History by Joining the Student Strike Movement

On March 5, GEOGrads, the graduate student association of the department of Geography, Planning, and Environment, made history by being the first graduate association from an Anglophone university in Quebec to vote in favour of an unlimited strike mandate. They were followed by their peers in Engineering and Computer Science and later by the GSA, the umbrella organization representing all of Concordia’s graduate population. As of now over 6,000 graduate students at Concordia have approved unlimited strike mandates in their general assemblies.

Graduate students at Concordia have therefore joined the province-wide student movement opposing the Liberals’ funding plan for education. Concordia graduate students, especially in Geography, are extremely concerned by the shift away from public funding in favour of private funding as laid out in the plan. This radical shift in funding sources includes tuition hikes that have been largely discussed in the press, but also an increased reliance on private funding from donations and corporations. In order to meet the objectives of the plan, universities will have to increase their private donations by 50% in the next six years. Graduate students are worried about how this might affect the integrity and autonomy of current and future research. Moreover, 10-20% of the proposed new funding is earmarked for “competitive positioning” (i.e. advertising), not for direct improvements in the education system.

By voting for an unlimited strike mandate, the Geography graduate students are taking a strong stance against the commercialization of research and the commodification of education.

For more details you can contact:

Annie Lalancette: (Phone number deleted)

Tom McGurk: (Phone number deleted)

Annelise Grube-Cavers: (Phone number deleted)

gpe.grads at gmail dot com

http://geograds.wordpress.com/

Concordia Students Join Province Wide Strike Against Tuition Hikes

Published here for documenting purposes.

PRESS RELEASE

March 4th, 2012

Concordia Students Join Province Wide Strike Against Tuition Hikes

 

Thousands of Concordia University students are joining over 100,000 others on strike across Quebec who are fighting for their right to accessible university education. Concordia is the first Anglophone institution to take a strong stance against the Liberals’ regressive funding plan for post-secondary education.

 

Students are striking to draw attention to the large tuition hikes the Charest government are scheduled to implement this fall. These hikes will increase individual debt loads and reduce accessibility to higher learning. These changes will also adversely affect groups already facing serious barriers. The Women’s Studies and Sexuality Association adopted motions referring to the hikes as being sexist, racist, ableist and classist, effectively increasing obstacles for many to post-secondary education.

 

“What I find scary is a shift in the thinking of the government,” says Tom McGurk, president of the Geography Graduate Student’s Association. “A shift that is slowly trying to move education from the realm of rights to one of privilege and ownership.”

 

Far from being a small minority, the strike movement is spreading quickly throughout departments by way of general assemblies. Students from five departments and one faculty at Concordia have already passed open-ended strike mandates at general assemblies on Wednesday and Thursday last week, five of which will come into effect on March 5th. This represents over 6,500 students, with several other associations set to vote this week. It is particularly important to stress that this movement emerged organically from students that wanted to organize in their own departments.

 

“The energy, commitment and dedication of each of the hundreds of students participating in strike activities are incredibly inspiring and mind-blowing,” says strike mobilization committee member, Irmak Bahar. “Concordia has sent a strong message that we sincerely care and will fight to protect accessible education.”

 

For the most up to date information about strike related event general assemblies at Concordia please go to www.concordiastudents.ca or email strike.concordia@gmail.com

 

Rushdia Mehreen (Free Education Montreal) (Phone number deleted)

Matthew Brett (political science graduate student) (Phone number deleted)

 

Concordia University students from six departments voted to go on strike effective March 5:

  • Women’s and Sexuality Studies Association (undergrads) (WSSA)
  • Geography Undergraduate Student Society (GUSS)
  • School of Community and Public Affairs Student Association (undergrads) (SCPASA)
  • Fine Arts Student Association (Faculty of fine arts – undergrads) (FASA)
  • Philosophy Student Association (undergrads and grads) (SoPhiA)
  • Political Science Student Association (Undergrad) (PSSA)

Mobilization at Concordia – a retrospect

Image

Concordia and the student movement - front-single

In the interest of posteriority and some history, I’ve uploaded Concordia and the student movement – what you should know flyer that we distributed to students at the back-to-school time of September 2012. The  text of the flyer is reproduced below. [the version on the http://concordiastudents.ca/ had links to all the facts mentioned in the flyer.. :( .............]*

Concordia, September 2012 flyer:

MAKING HISTORY: In winter 2012 Concordia students made history by being
the first anglophone institution in Quebec to have a general unlimited (open- ended)
student strike. Francophone universities and CEGEPs have chosen to
go on strike 9 times since the 1960s.
DIRECT DEMOCRACY : Concordia students voted at general assemblies of
their departments and faculties to go on strike and also voted on how the
strike would be enforced – including what kind of picket lines, how to treat
labs and studio sessions, and whether to withhold assignments.
The associations on strike held general assemblies on a weekly basis
to decide the continuation of the strike: any member had the right attend,
discuss, debate and propose motions.
BUSINESS AS USUAL: Despite this unprecedented strike movement,
Concordia administration adopted a policy of “business as usual” choosing to
ignore and repress the movement. They hired more security contractors and
in one instance a female student was assaulted by one of these guards. On
March 23rd the administration released a letter encouraging the political
profiling of students on strike.
REPRESSION: The results of the March 23rd letter were profound. Students
took pictures of and videotaped other students, as did the security guards.
Many students were charged under the university’s Code of Rights and
Responsibilities for their political activity and as of September 5th, 2012,
many still have pending charges. Overall Concordia spent almost $250,000
on security during the strike.
DIPLOMAS NOT EDUCATION: Despite the fact that some in departments 5
weeks of 13 week courses did not take place, Concordia pushed ahead with
exam period as scheduled, making no accommodations for make-up classes.
“The professors are in the best position to decide how to evaluate the
courses,” said then-President Lowy in his first dialogue with the students, 6
weeks into the strike and only two days before the exam period began.
RESULT: Course content was dropped. Exams were re-written and curved.
Quality of education was compromised. Concordia got paid. Credits were
awarded. Business as usual.
GENERAL ASSEMBLIES CONTINUE THIS FALL The student movement
continues, and Concordia students are again coming together to
democratically make decisions about their collective futures and the direction
that education is taking in this province under the hand of neoliberalism.
For more information: FreeEducationMontreal.org** | ConcordiaStudents.ca

 

* Interestingly enough, we seem to have lost access to Concordiastudents.ca website which chronicled the amazing and successful mobilization at Concordia despite the authoritarian presence of CSU (a member of FEUQ, hard not to mention it here). The interesting part of all this is that the site (that is the domain name in question) was “owned” (bought and paid for by) now a Vice President of FEUQ (master of all authoritarian organizations… coming from my experience, mind you). Thus, I’m really (really?) doubting why the site is down……

** Although the flyer refers to Free Education Montreal site, for some strange reason I (or anyone else) had not posted the flyer text on that website…… we used it more for background info through out the strike and later.

footnotes dated: 2nd April 2013