|MUGS| I lied, and a message from our Strike Committee

2:20:00 pm McGill Undergraduate Geography Society 0 Comments

*** mcgillgeography@gmail.com *** http://mcgillgeography.blogspot.com ****


Hey folks,

I'm sorry I clearly fibbed when I told you yesterday's e-mail would be the last you'd get this week...below you'll find a message from our department's Strike Committee, with a message about the strike renewal vote (the motion for which is attached, and it's taking place from now until Sunday afternoon; e-mail geographyelections@gmail.com with your vote [a "YES" vote is to CONTINUE the strike and a "NO" vote is to terminate it...please e-mail from your McGill address, and don't forget to include your name, program details, and student number]!) .

Please keep in mind that it was composed entirely by them and their views do not necessarily represent those of the MUGS Executive committee. Just before we get to it though, I want to correct myself: the voting for co-presidents does not end today! Rather, you can submit votes for upto two of the three candidates until Sunday at 5! Also don't forget about prof. of the year nominations! Take it away Strike Committee...

Dear fellow Geographers,

It is
extremely important that you vote on this mandate for strike renewal.

Education in Quebec today is a public service, open to all who desire to learn and develop their own critical thought. If the government goes through with their new education policy, students risk becoming a reproductive agent of the current social order rather than an active player in the progressive evolution of society. Any tuition fees stratify students by limiting their academic freedom. Due to higher student debt (Yes, it exists here) one may be forced into choosing a program based on economic payoff rather than personal interest or goals of knowledge.

Just as Education succeeded in breaking away from the church and became an inalienable right in society to be sustained by the state without religious affiliation, Education must equally remain separate from the market and commercial sector. We need to prevent Quebec's post-secondary system from turning into the American system, where the role governments play in funding is limited. To receive post-secondary education in the US, ties with the private sector are inevitably formed, either through loans or bursaries, allowing banks and companies to indebt the youth, creating an order ruled by the market.

The bill will force university bodies to up their private donors by 50% in order to create a supposedly "fair" and "balanced" budget. They have two goals in mind: to relieve themselves of managing the education system and to reinvest elsewhere. They also propose that universities further reallocate their own resources. Evidently, this bill argues that "students need to pay their part," by contributing more to the funding of universities so that the government can invest itself in its other priorities such as subsidizing infrastructure for mining companies with its infamous Plan Nord - further promoting Quebec as an amicable place for the world's resource-harvesting multinationals.

Currently, a never-before-seen proportion of university funds are being used to sustain a bureaucracy of executives that are needed to manage universities' multiplying functions that have nothing to do with pedagogy. Observing the National Assembly's files documented last fall will reveal that Heather Munroe-Blum, McGill's Principal, makes a whopping annual salary of $585 481, making her by far the highest paid admin in Quebec. It must be known that Quebec universities do not lack in funds: the money is there, but it is being allocated differently as university operations move away from the traditional pedagogical role to a more corporatist life-form which primarily seeks economic growth.

What does corporate sponsorship mean? As we see in other sectors of society that undergo privatization, corporations gain a significant say in where this money goes, what research is conducted and much more. This commercialized research and education is no longer understood as having its own inherent value, but as merely being of instrumental value. This is where students lose input as to how their school is run and professors have less control over the courses they teach and the research they do. This is where theArts lose ground.

As Geographers, we face a dilemma. We do not study a discipline that seeks profit, but rather a greater understanding of the world around us and solving problems in search of environmental and societal benefit. Aspects of geography that do not immediately seek to gain economic benefits have great potential to be placed to the side if this bill goes through.

A renewed strike mandate would be meaningful beyond the borders of our department. It would add weight to the claims of fellow McGill departments, and to those of approximately 200,000 students throughout Quebec. The repercussions of such a cohesion could have a historical imprint, leading to a more conscientious society where passing on knowledge would be put ahead of seeking short term goals of economic maximization.

The root of an unjust society can be traced to inaccessible education. The ability for some students to attend post-secondary education and the inability for others to do so forms an automatic divide - leading to social stratification and power hierarchy. Clearly, on a global scale, people are unhappy with the current regimes of power put into place and are fighting for their rights by reclaiming the streets and spaces that should belong to the public. Through student mobilization, we can contribute to the reformation of society in one of the most direct manners possible. Through joining thousands of other students, we can witness the creation of accessible education for everyone who chooses to take it.

If Geography votes YES, the Strike Committee will meet (all of you are invited, as always) in order to determine whether to start hard picketing classes, which would essentially freeze the Geography curriculum. The need for collective action and pressure on the McGill administration and government is greater than ever as every next day is worth more than the last.

Send a YES or NO or ABSTENTION to geographyelections@gmail.com<mailto:geographyelections@gmail.com> Voting ends Sunday, April 1st.


The Geography Strike Committee


IRIS (Institut de recherche et d'informations socio-économiques): http://www.iris-recherche.qc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Brochure-English-web.pdf
Quebec National Assembly: http://www.assnat.qc.ca/en/travaux-parlementaires/documents-deposes.html?SessionLegislature=491&Commission=39
Macleans Magazine: http://oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2011/05/25/who-are-the-top-10-highest-paid-university-admins-in-quebec/
Le Devoir: http://www.ledevoir.com/societe/education/319815/hausse-des-droits-de-scolarite-le-symptome-d-une-derive-plus-profonde

Wishing you a great weekend,


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