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Talks ask: “What is Austerity?”

by Gregory Todaro September 15, 2015

Seven talks scheduled over the semester to discuss austerity’s effects at Concordia

The first in a series of seven talks centered on the effects of austerity is taking place at Concordia on Tuesday, Sept. 15. The series called “What is Austerity?” is a collaborative effort between the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association, Concordia Student Union and Concordia University Library Employees Union.

Erik Chevrier, chair of mobilization for CUPTFA, and Roger Rashi, campaign coordinator for the Quebec-based solidarity group Alternatives, are leading the series opener.

“[The first session] is an introduction to addressing issues with austerity,” said Chevrier. “From there, we’re going to address Concordia-specific situations as well as the Quebec and Canada context, and the world-wide context, of how austerity affects individuals.”

Other talks from “What is Austerity” include “building solidarity across Concordia,” “public sector under attack” featuring Erika Shaker of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and a panel called “professors against austerity” with Concordia professors discussing different issues with austerity.

“A number of communities are affected by austerity so we can look at Concordia as a community,” said Chevrier. “The idea is basically that this campaign is to get everybody working together and discuss the way austerity affects them as groups, but at the same time look at this as a whole community and how we can address this at Concordia.”

Chevrier said Concordia’s part-time faculty in particular is strongly, drastically impacted by austerity cuts.

“In certain Arts and Science departments—courses were cut by more than 50 per cent in certain departments,” he said. “Job security is on the line, and we’re very concerned about that.”

Organizers are hoping the discussions from this series will inspire Concordia’s community to take action against austerity cuts.

“We’re also in the middle of contact other groups and unions to start collaborating with us on this project so hopefully it’s not just a project of three groups, but eventually becomes the whole Concordia community that gets involved,” he said.  “We do need our public services, we should be prioritizing hospitals and schools over giving money to private corporations and banks.”

The first session of “What is Austerity?” takes place in the 7th floor lounge of the Hall Building from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15. The dates for the rest of the talks are available at concordiaagainstausterity.org. All talks are free and open to the public.

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