Forwarded by Gen Rail:
Dear colleagues, see below the letter sent by Judy Rebick:
From: Judy Rebick, Ms
Subject: Warning to charge students
Received: Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 4:20 PM
Dear Dr. Graham,
I am writing as a concerned colleague, a feminist and a social justice activist of long standing. I have been teaching at McGill this term as the Eakin Fellow in the Study of Canada. Students at the Simon de Beauvoir Institute have asked me to write to you concerning the disciplinary procedures you have begun to implement against striking students.
The striking students at Concordia as in the rest of Quebec are not engaged in some frivolous activity. They are attempting to protect access to post secondary education for themselves and those who come after them. Rather than vilifying or criminalizes students who are committed to this important battle, you should be supporting them. Accessible education should be goal of all of us involved in the education system. I am particularly proud that both at Concordia and McGill, the women’s studies students are among the most committed to the strike. As teachers in this field, we try and instil social responsibility in our students.
Whatever my views about the strike itself, and I am in full support, I have decades of experience in participating and studying protests. There is no question that the threats you have issued that include asking students and staff to call security if there are students in any way blocking or disrupting the classroom is bound to end in violent confrontations. There has already been a serious confrontation with what appears to be violence on the part of campus security with the geography students.
I ask you sincerely to back down from the confrontational stance you have adopted. Surely there is a way to negotiate solutions to blocked or disrupted classes without, as you put it, calling in the authorities.
The increased use of campus security and police against student activists is a growing concern for me and I think an increasing challenge to democracy on campus. Please do not further escalate confrontation with the students.
Eakin Fellow at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada
“Liberating action necessarily involves a moment of perception and volition. This action both precedes and follows that moment, to which it first acts as a prologue and which it subsequently serves to effect and continue within history. The action of domination, however, does not necessarily imply this dimension; for the structure of domination is maintained by its own mechanical and unconscious functionality” –José Luiz Fiori, in Paolo Friere, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 33.
In support of the student strike against the privatization of the university, and in solidarity with their demand for accessible education, we undertake to bring education into the public sphere and onto the street through a détournement of our existing classes in support of the student action. This alt-uniEs is governed by three simple propositions: ALTERNATIVE (a challenge to the neoliberal constitution of the university as a commodity or service), UNIVERSITY (a commitment to theory as a methodology of resistance) and UNIeS (a commitment to unity, democratic access, plurality). We have agreed to post alternative content under the rubric of our scheduled classes in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University, and invite students and the public to contribute statements, comments, discussions, poems, images, documents, invocations, manifestos and other forms of engagement.
Monika Kin Gagnon, Anna Kruzynski, Krista Geneviève Lynes, Liz Miller, Geneviève Rail, Kim Sawchuk and Jeremy Stolow