Tickets for Noam Chomsky’s lecture, “The Neo-liberal Assault on the Population,” went on sale at 1 p.m. on Oct. 17 and sold out all 400 seats that were on sale, at both the Sir George Williams and Loyola campuses, in under an hour.
The Concordia Student Union (CSU) has been trying to get Noam Chomsky to come and speak at Concordia for many years. Former CSU executive Adrien Severyns put Concordia
on a waiting list three years ago and reminded CSU’s current VP External, Caroline Bourbonniere to get in touch with Chomsky’s people. In July, Bourbonniere enthusiastically called Chomsky’s assistant on behalf of Concordia.
“I was persistent for a month and insisted that Concordia was an especially relevant community for him to visit and that we had been waiting for years. Chomsky finally wrote me back a personal e-mail from Geneva saying he would be in Montreal at the end of October and that we would touch base soon,” said Bourbonniere.
After a month with no word from Chomsky, CSU’s hopes began to dwindle but Bourbonniere pleaded to Chomsky’s team with one last e-mail, and finally got confirmation in early October.
The topic of neo-liberal assault was chosen by Chomsky with regards to what themes Concordia wanted him to touch upon. Chomsky’s traditional work revolves around linguistics, philosophy, and critiquing U.S. foreign policy, state capitalism and mainstream news media. Bourbonniere told Chomsky’s team about the campaigns currently being worked on by Concordia students, such as the fossil fuel divestment campaign, the Anti-P6 campaign, the NSA and surveillance issues in addition to some more timely themes such as deregulation and the commodification of education.
Bourbonniere explained that, “given that all these themes are linked to neo-liberalism, Chomsky chose that title. The word choice of ‘assault’ was especially relevant, Chomsky will explain why.”
Having Noam Chomsky come to Concordia is especially exciting given the university’s strong activist culture and history. Bourbonniere told The Concordian that the CSU team is thrilled and that it is a milestone for both the CSU and the university.
“With many accomplishments, Chomsky is one of the most prominent intellectuals of our time, he has vastly contributed to the fields on linguistics, philosophy, cognitive science, logic, activism and politics and has also written over 100 books,” said Bourbonniere.
There will be a 45-minute question period at the end of Chomsky’s speech. The busy activist has another talk at the Université de Montréal that same night, so he will be in a rush to get some rest. Because of this, students will not have the opportunity to speak with him or to get a photo or autograph.
Since the event sold out so fast, the CSU is in the process of trying to book the BMO auditorium for the overflow of students. The auditorium would be set up with a large screen where the talk would be live streamed.