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U of T students push for bigger governance role

General Assembly created to challenge admin on accountability, funding and corporatization


 

Students, staff and faculty at the University of Toronto are taking a stand against an administration they believe puts corporate interests ahead of students’. The first ever U of T General Assembly was held on Jan. 19 to discuss how to breach the university’s governing processes and help to ensure their needs are met.

A Facebook press release stated the meeting’s aims:

“At the first ever U of T General Assembly, members of the university community will demand that the administration stand with students, workers, and faculty, rather than with corporations, private donors, and a provincial government that fails to adequately support higher education. Participants of the UTGA will map out an alternative direction for the University — one that ensures access and improved learning conditions for students, safe and dignified working conditions for workers, and the protection of academic freedom for all.”

Topics discussed ranged from the controversial proposed flat fees system to the development of the Munk School of Global Affairs, a relationship the group is calling to come to an end.

According to live tweets from the Varsity’s Dylan Robertson, several working groups were established to focus on key areas of concern, including economic accessibility and funding, governance and accountability, and the university’s move towards corporatization. Tweets also declared the room to be too crowded to hear the discussion at times.

The group plans to meet again the week following reading break in February.

It’s refreshing to see so much mobilization on a campus. Whether you side with the administration or the students and staff, you have to admire the tenacity of a group of people fighting for the type of education and university experience they want to receive. How often do students go about their academic lives, quietly cursing their administration or students’ union for an unpopular decision, without ever doing anything about it?

It reminds me of the student strikes that occur ever so often in Quebec, the last one in 2005 when almost 200,000 students boycotted their studies until $103 million in the provincial budget was shifted from student loans back to bursaries. It will be interesting to see if the University of Toronto’s general assembly can garner the same kind of clout with its administration, and how things will unfold over the next few months.


 

U of T students push for bigger governance role

  1. While I don’t think it’s a bad idea to try and ask students what issues are important to them and organize campaigns around that, I don’t think ~200 people showing up compared to a student body of 70,000 is an indication of any kind of substantial movement at UofT I’m afraid. My understanding is a lot of those 200 weren’t UofT students, either.

  2. You’re completely wrong. There was a former u of t student who had to leave for financial reasons, if that’s what you’re talking about. There was also support staff, faculty, sessional lecturers, grad students, TAs and a couple former students. Having all of these people, who all have a stake in the university, assemble to work together is the entire point of all of this.

  3. p.s. How many people do you expect to come out to the founding meeting of something? I think 200 is pretty good….or should they have rented con hall?

  4. These students are living in a fantasy world. WE WILL ACCOMPLIXH ALL THIS WITHOUT THE GOVERNMENT OR PRIVATE DONORS AND WITH FREE TUITION!!! Like, where will the money come from?

  5. I’d like to point out that a delegation from the steelworkers’ union was given voting rights. That says enough.

  6. Thanks for including my tweets! I especially liked the refined phrasing of “declared the room to be too crowded to hear the discussion.”

    Also, I think the link’s broken.

  7. Janet,

    Not saying there was anything wrong with the event, but given that UTSU AGMs can have 200-300 people, I don’t see this initiative being anymore successful at addressing tuition or governance than they are. Hopefully I’m wrong, but we’ll see.

  8. I summon Blue Eyes White Dragon!!!

  9. I adore your webpage.. incredibly nice colors & theme. Did you create this web page yourself or did you rent a name to do it for you.

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