An online declaration calling for support from Concordia’s faculty in the fight against tuition hikes has already gathered more than 160 signatures in less than three weeks.
The Concordia Declaration was drafted by the Concordia Student Union, the Graduate Students’ Association and a number of faculty members consulted in the process. It was posted online on Feb. 17, asking university professors, research assistants and teaching assistants to accommodate students who may miss class or assignments due to their involvement in a potential general strike.
“The declaration was a response to faculty talking to [the CSU] and saying they wanted a way of making sure students know that they support them,” said CSU President Lex Gill. “Since we put the declaration online, signatures have been growing really fast. It’s really exciting, we did not expect so many signatures.”
Gill explained that the declaration could play a crucial role in influencing the provost’s decision to grant an amnesty as “it shows faculty members on Senate that [a general strike] is something faculty, research and teaching assistants clearly support.”
Gill added that there were more signatures pending approval on the website’s account.
Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota, however, pointed out that an academic amnesty could not be granted by the provost, nor the Senate, “because no one and nobody has the authority to require that [faculty] abide by one.”
“When I spoke with [Graham] last week, he was of the same opinion that he was in the time of Nov. 10, even after knowing about the declaration,” said Mota. “The situation is very clear: faculty are expected to teach and professors are expected to come in and do their jobs. We need to keep providing services for those who choose to continue studying.”
Graham could not be reached to comment directly on the declaration.
Mota added that for those who choose to “boycott” classes, some individual accommodations could be made “for a day or two,” but something at the level of an academic amnesty is not being considered right now.
The Concordia Declaration, which can be found on http://concordiadeclaration.wordpress.com, asks for every signatory to leave name, position and comments if desired.
Teaching assistant and GSA President Robert Sonin said he signed because he did not want to see Concordia turn into a university “in name only, a for-profit diploma mill with no academic integrity or legitimacy.”
“The strike against tuition fee increases is not merely about money,” Sonin said. “It is a struggle against a trend that is cheapening what we do, that is undermining the seriousness and value of higher education and academic research, and that can only value things — including human beings — in terms of money.”
CLARIFICATION: In a previous version of this article, Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota indicated that the decision for imposing academic amnesty was solely up to Provost David Graham. After following up with Graham, Mota later told The Concordian that no one has the authority to grant a ‘blanket’ amnesty. Instead, faculty members, as long as they are abiding by regulations set by Senate, can deal with individual cases in their class themselves.