Urban Concordia

MEDIA ADVISORY:
QUALITY OF EDUCATION AT CONCORDIA UNDER THREAT.
After weeks of being stonewalled by Concordia administration, students will respond publicly to the University’s lack of academic integrity and its denial of Quebec’s tradition of student strikes.On Wednesday, students on strike at Concordia, with support from CLASSE spokespeople, will outline their demands.
What:    Press Conference


Who:     Gabrielle Bouchard, Undergraduate Student, Simone de Beauvoir Institute;Tom McGurk, President of the Geography, Planning and Environment Graduate Students’ Association;Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and Jeanne Reynolds, spokespeople for CLASSE

When:  April 11, 2012 at 10:30AMWhere: 7th Floor of the Hall Building, 1455 de Maisonneuve West

MEDIA ADVISORY:

QUALITY OF EDUCATION AT CONCORDIA UNDER THREAT.

After weeks of being stonewalled by Concordia administration, students will respond publicly to the University’s lack of academic integrity and its denial of Quebec’s tradition of student strikes.On Wednesday, students on strike at Concordia, with support from CLASSE spokespeople, will outline their demands.

What:    Press Conference

Who:     Gabrielle Bouchard, Undergraduate Student, Simone de Beauvoir Institute;
Tom McGurk, President of the Geography, Planning and Environment Graduate Students’ Association;
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and Jeanne Reynolds, spokespeople for CLASSE

When:  April 11, 2012 at 10:30AM
Where: 7th Floor of the Hall Building, 1455 de Maisonneuve West

I took these photos from the 15th floor on the way down from the sit in in front of President Lowy’s office last week, he certainly has a nice view. Too bad he cant see the value in the collective political action or the necessity of accessible education from way up there.

The degree to which the whole of university administration is neglecting to recognize the significance of our struggle is mind blowing. Today we learned that Dr. Greene, the head of the Geography Planning and Environment department has decided to cancel all of the department faculty meetings until next september. 

***correction!

Im happy to say that the department meeting has been officially unofficially rescheduled for friday the 27th at 4:00pm followed by a wine and cheese event for the entire geography planning and environment department. This should be a great way to debrief and share everyones experiences through the last six weeks.

I am looking forward to it!

-Sam

UPA STRIKE 2012 - WEEK SIX!


At our first general assembly after joining La CLASSE we brought the lessons learned from our peers province wide back to the seventh floor for discussion and here is our updated mandate. With the amendments passed today we will be able to vote on many more motions at next weeks CLASSE congress!

Strike Mandate:

Be it resolved that the Undergraduate Urban Planning/ Studies students will renew an open-ended strike effective immediately as a province-wide floor of students has already surpassed 75,000 with a strike mandate, and many departments around Concordia University are already on strike: 

Be it resolved that student can still go to labs, internships and co-ops. Only scheduled instructional lab time may be blocked however access to lab facilities and space (as well as internships and co-ops) will be permitted otherwise.

Be it also resolved that while on strike, the UPA will call a General Assembly once a week (Tuesdays) to assess the state of our protest.

Be it resolved that the UPA realizes that tuition freezes are not a long-term solution for administering tuition rates. Bearing this in mind UPA should seek tuition reform, restructuring of the bursary system and other processes that help students in tenuous circumstances.

Be it further resolved that Urban Planning undergrads resist any increase in tuition costs and call for a governmental re-investment into education, through progressive taxation, with a view towards free education.

Be it further resolved that we understand the core of a student strike to be the recognition that academic work is a form of intellectual labour dependant on student participation. Therefore as students on strike we commit to stopping academic activity in the Urban Planning department, which will include the following:

i) Preventing classes from occurring, either by means of zero attendance to class or through picket lines, which prevent faculty from entering classrooms.

ii) Encouraging alternative forms of peer-facilitated learning or discussion over the course of the strike.

iii) Withholding the submission of assignments (including ones submitted online via moodle or email)

iv) Not attending final exams. 

Be it resolved that the UPA recommends that the faculty and administration provide academic amnesty and support all members including those who wish to seek out the process for an incomplete (INC) grade.

Be it resolved that the UPA denounces violent action and intimidation tactics as employed by the administration and security agents (both University and Private) as well as by police. The UPA affirms our position of solidarity, with the Quebec wide movement that denounces all violence against students.            

Be it further resolved that people be allowed to submit proposed amendments to the UPA executive email address in writing 6 hours before general assembly’s if they are not able to be present.

Whereas Urban planning undergrads understand their departmental strike to be a part of a larger strike on a provincial level.

Whereas urban planning undergrads require representation at a provincial level for the duration of the strike, and that CLASSE appears to be the best option for direct participation at this level.

Be it resolved that urban planning undergrads become a member of CLASSE.

Be it further resolved that urban planning undergrads maintain the general assembly as its supreme decision making body.

Be it further resolved that the GA elect urban planning undergrad delegates to attend CLASSE congress, and that the congress fees for those delegates will be paid by the UPA.

Be it resolved that the UPA will abide by with the suggested donation of $1/student ($369) to join CLASSE.

 Be it resolved that the UPA adopt the following justifications into our strike mandate:

  • The provincial government has expressed its intent to continue to raise student tuition to an amount that is unprecedented in Quebec history.
  • The justification put forward for this rise in tuition by the provincial government does not benefit the quality of education nor does it facilitate accessibility to higher education.
  • The proposed university funding plan compromises the integrity of intellectually free and open learning by putting our institutions of study in the pocket of private interests and corporate investors.
  • Access to higher education is recognized as a right for citizens of all nations under the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights
  • This tuition increase serves to further entrench societal inequalities (based on gender, race, class, ability etc.) by disproportionately adding to the burden of those who are already marginalized or economically disadvantaged.
  • The majority of Québec students have chosen this means to be heard and that we want to stand in solidarity with them.
  • We have seen this to be the only way students’ voices have been heard in the past.
  • Despite all attempts, no other way has worked to enter in negotiation with the government during the past two years that the increase has been on the table.

Be it resolved that the UPA ask for the resignation of Jean Charest, Line Beauchamp and­­­­ Raymond Bachand

Be it further resolved that the UPA denounces the current model for the development of Quebecs natural resources, in favor of a better Plan Nord.

Be it further resolved that the UPA also denounces the recent Harper budget as announced in 2012.

Whereas President Fredrick Lowy made clear that any academic accommodations for this semester (winter 2012) should be dealt with at the department level

Whereas the UPA has been on strike since March 6th during which time regular courses were unable to be conducted in accordance with course outlines.

Whereas this is a crucial time as we enter the final evaluation period.

Whereas the cancellation of the April 13th 2012 department meeting represents an obstruction to discussion and decision making for faculty, staff, students and administration alike.

Be it resolved that the UPA denounces dr. Greene’s decision to suspend all departmental meetings until September.

Be it further resolved that the UPA calls for the reinstatement of April’s meeting, and all subsequent regularly scheduled meetings. 

Be it resolved that the UPA recommends to the CLASSE Negotiation Committee the following demands to the government:

  • Freeze international student tuition (forfaitaire) fees and out of province tuition until their eventual equality with students who are Quebec residents.
  •  Reverse the provincial government’s policy allowing universities to annually increase international tuition by 10%;
  • Reverse the provincial government’s policy allowing universities to increase tuition for undergraduate international students in the six programs of Engineering, Computer Sciences, Mathematics, Applied Sciences, Management and Law;
  • Provide more funding and financial aid opportunities for international and out of province students;
  • Allow international and out of province students access to health insurance under Quebec medicare;
  • Allow international students the right to work off-campus without restriction.
The meeting with Lowy this morning was… interesting. 
the comments and questions from the student body and others in solidarity were awesome! Anneslise spoke very well on behalf of the geography planning and environment department, Evan, from fine arts was also great. Plus there was a representative from the Auto Union who spoke to the administrations refusal to even recognize the rights of our collective movement in favor of this insistence on individual responsibility. Generally the response from the administration was, as one might imagine, less than stellar. It was a good lesson in the art of question avoidance and substance-less response with a touch of filibustering. 

There will be a press conference tomorrow morning on the seventh floor of the Hall building. I encourage every one to come show support!

-Sam
APRIL 10 TOWN HALL MEETING WITH PRESIDENT LOWY

In response to the sit in on Fredrick Lowy’s office last week he will be hosting a meeting in the large auditorium on the first floor of the hall building.  

See every one there: 

Tuesday, April 10th

12 p.m. to 1p.m.

Henry F. Hall Building, room H-110

1455 De Maisonneuve blvd 

Student Strike – Concordia in Denial

“There won’t be a prolonged strike,” said (Chris) Mota. “From my experience, that has never been an issue at Concordia. When students do participate in a strike, it’s usually a one-day strike, in solidarity; I’ve been here for 18 years and I’ve never seen a prolonged student strike.” The Link, 8 November 2011

        
   Some sympathetic faculty members have been helping to keep students at Concordia informed about what the university’s position is on the student strikes taking place across campus. The university itself has not been very forthcoming with its plans and policies on the challenges facing the university community. As a result, and through the lack of foresight on the part of the institution, illustrated by the above quote from Chris Mota, Concordia spokesperson, parts of the university have been forced into a tenuous situation.

While the university has sent out some general information, they have neglected to mention how students in programs where almost no regular classes or lectures have happened for 5 weeks, are expected to cover all of their course material in order to complete their final exams and projects on time for the end of semester. The exam period, which starts next week, has not been changed even for the most affected classes. In fact there has been no communication at all.

The departments fully on strike include the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment which has over 1100 enrolled students in graduate and undergraduate programs, all of whom are expected to somehow cover material without the allotted course time. It must be noted that the approach Concordia has taken differs considerably from other institutions facing similar problems, and that ultimately, no matter how it is framed by Concordia, they do have a choice in how the functioning of the university proceeds. The University of Montreal, for example, has decided to extend the semester to ensure the completeness of the courses and the integrity of the diplomas being awarded to students.

Needless to say institutions of higher learning in Quebec have been enduring a very challenging spring. Student opposition to the University Funding Plan has manifested itself in many different ways, both on and off campuses. Most notable in many institutions have been the significant number of students striking, the earliest having voted to start striking in mid-February making this the 8th consecutive week without regular classes. At Concordia University, the earliest departments to go on strike commenced on the 5th of March, meaning that over the last 6 weeks class content has been interrupted, cut short or otherwise affected.

As of today, Concordia University has expressed no intention to accommodate the loss of course time which students in the departments on strike have dealt with. The official exam period begins next week, and it seems the university is prepared to place the onus and weight of missed class time directly on students and professors.

This situation could have been avoided very early on through constructive action on the part of Concordia’s administration and upper management. As the number of striking students increased dramatically across the province, students at Concordia became more actively mobilized. Both the Concordia Student Union (CSU) and Graduate Students Association (GSA) had widely publicized the fact that strike votes would be taking place in early March, yet the university ignored its responsibility to students, staff and faculty by not preparing for all the potential outcomes of these votes.

The current position means that professors are feeling extra pressure and will surely be working harder to fulfill the needs of students, with little to no guidance.
Although much of the university has continued functioning as normal, students in the departments on strike have been ignored by the administrative bodies of the university. Though Concordia has said that professors have the discretion to extend deadlines, they have made no attempt to address the important issue of missed lectures.
In effect, professors are being told that they have the flexibility to rearrange their courses, and the weighting of assignments and exams, to reflect the situation, however, as the university administration is offering no additional class time, this will in many cases result in the loss of material.

Concordia’s inaction in this regard is consistent with the transformation in educational institutions from places of learning to places which produce graduates. Universities should be striving for academic excellence which includes actively supporting staff, faculty and students being adversely affected by the loss of class time.

The sad conclusion of the institution’s attitude towards course time is that it is dispensable. The implications of this are many, but primarily it undermines the principles of higher education as a place where the emphasis is on learning. Concordia, historically an institution committed to social engagement, has changed over the past years. It now appears to be a place to get a diploma, not an education.

GeoGrads (Geography Planning and Environment Graduate Students Association)
GUSS (Geography Undergraduate Students Society)
UPA (Undergraduate Urban Planning Association)

In the afternoon I caught up with an other much more encouraging manif-action (I heard people using this term all day but only just saw it in writing- makes much more sense now manifestation+action genius)

This was such a great boost to the moral after the disturbing events of the morning. There were students and professors, parents babies and children, dogs drum lines and even a trombone.

It is a beautiful thing to march for a just cause with ones fellow citizens. 

-Sam

Here is some footage i found on the CUVT website of the abusive and repressive police actions. 
A reporter from CUTV, Laith Marouf, was arrested, and I recieved word that a McGill student, Ethan Feldman, had his arm broken by the police and had to go the hospital for surgery… degeulasse

-Sam

Another day full of madness yesterday. My day started with running down to the neighborhood to the south east of St. Laurent and St. Catherine’s just in time to witness an unsettling display of police powers. I did get there a little bit late and so I did not see  what events led up to the mass arrest of more than 50 student demonstrators from UQAM, Concordia, U de M and McGill. What I did see looked suspiciously like the kettling techniques employed a few summers ago by the billion dollar security force during the G20 summit in Toronto.

Yet an other example of the violent and intimidating tactics our government is willing to employ to repress the political dissent.

Solidarity to those who were hauled away by the bus load, bound but still smiling. 

-Sam

THE UPA HAS JOINED CLASSE

This was probably the most significant development to come out of our general assembly since approving the strike mandate.

A delegation will be sent to the congress this weekend!

-Sam