270+ Concordia Professors Oppose the Privatization of Universities

A growing number of university professors in Québec are joining the protest movement against the government’s funding plan for higher education. The letter below is signed by more than 270 Concordia University Professors. Many McGill University, HEC Montréal and Université de Montréal professors have also added their names to the letter open letter.

Professeurs contre la hausse have also written a manifesto that so far has more than 2100 signatories.

Students, professors, parents and their children walk eastward on Ste-Catherine street on the Sunday, March 18 family march against tuition hikes and in support of accessible education. Photo 2012 by David Widgington.

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Add your name to the below letter.

(version française)

Concordia Professors Opposed to Privatisation of Universities

The efforts of the Charest government to privatize university funding in Quebec have sparked widespread protests.  180,000 students are on strike across the province. Classroom teaching has ground to a halt at many CEGEPs and universities across Quebec, including the University of Montreal, University of Quebec at Montreal, and much of Concordia University.

Students are at the forefront of an important struggle over public education and its role in Quebec society. As professors at Concordia, we join our voices to those of our students. We call on the Quebec government to revisit the university funding plan and rescind the measures that would further privatize our universities through tuition hikes and increased reliance on corporate funding of research. 

Historically, Quebec universities have been funded by the public on the grounds that society is enriched as a result. With public funding, tuition fees have remained low and higher education has remained accessible. Under Quebec’s educational social contract, university graduates who achieve success in the labour market keep university costs low for the next generation through their tax dollars. This arrangement is a crucial part of maintaining a more equitable society in which people have access to health care and education no matter what their income is. This is what the student movement is fighting to defend today. 

The government’s plan is an attempt to break Quebec’s hard won social contract on education. The proposed 75 percent increase in tuition fees will undermine Continue reading

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Media Studies Students at Concordia University Strike in Support of Accessible Education

After careful deliberation, students in the MA Media Studies program at Concordia University have collectively decided to continue our strike on an ongoing basis, to be reviewed weekly. In accordance with the GSA’s resolution, we will not be attending class nor submitting coursework in recognition that they are inseparable. We agree with PhD students in the department that to submit coursework while not attending class implies that class time is irrelevant. We also declare our support for doctoral, undergraduate, and diploma students in Communication Studies in their own strike actions. Our position reflects the majority of students in our program, but we also acknowledge the individual circumstances that may limit the extent to which some of us can participate in the strike.

March 13 demonstration against Québec tuition increases as protesters walk westward along Boul. René-Lévesque in Montréal. 2012 © Eduardo Fuenmayor.

We see this action as a strike and not a boycott – in ceasing our coursework, we seek to make visible the detrimental impact of tuition hikes on our futures but also to make visible the very real labour of our research and course participation, which enriches the programs and atmosphere of our department, individual professor’s research, and the university at large. We understand that a student strike differs from a labour strike, and we use such language knowingly. Although we may not be bound by a labour contract, we are part of a student association and feel that the strike is a necessary collective action. In calling our action a strike, we seek to align ourselves with student movements and protests province-wide against privatization and for academic freedom and accessible education. We do not consider ourselves consumers passively receiving a service (as the term “boycott” implies); we believe that education is a right.

 

Since the 2005 Québec student strike against the proposed removal of $103 million from student loans and bursaries, the red square symbolizes student debt that leaves students "squarely in the red". Photo taken during student demonstration on March 13, 2012 © Eduardo Fuenmayor.

By participating in the strike, we believe that we are raising the bar for the quality of education and research in the Department of Communication Studies. We feel strongly that low tuition fees allow students from diverse backgrounds to attend university, which in turn nourishes the quality, creativity and diversity of our programs.

"Professors support the students" reads a protest sign as a demonstration walks northward along Boul. St-Laurent in Montréal's Chinatown. Photo taken on March 13, 2012 © Eduardo Fuenmayor.

We appeal to you for solidarity in our struggle against the Charest government’s position. We appreciate the support faculty have provided thus far, and we encourage you to continue supporting us in our call for accessible education.

Sincerely,

MA Media Studies Students
Department of Communication Studies, Concordia University

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