**For Immediate Release**
TORONTO, January 20
On Wednesday, January 19, 2011, over two hundred students, workers, faculty, and community members packed a room to form a General Assembly that challenges the legitimacy of the University of Toronto’s administration and Governing Council. They shared accounts of their attempts to raise serious concerns with the University, only to be met with closed doors. Midway through the evening participants broke into twelve working groups that directed the General Assembly on key areas of concern ranging from university life to anti-corporatization to academic planning. At the conclusion of the meeting participants voted to continue this experiment in self-governance and will convene again before April. Over the next month organizers will keep knocking on doors and visiting classrooms on the U of T campus. They also hope to build ties with groups across Canada and the world that are demanding changes to post-secondary education governance.
Morgan Vanek, a Ph.D. student and teaching assistant in English, was thrilled by the variety of perspectives that came together over the evening. “Cafeteria workers, faculty, students, and librarians sitting shoulder to shoulder and actually having serious conversations about how this university should be run. This is what governance at our university should look like.”
Vivien Endicott-Douglas, a part-time undergraduate student in Women and Gender Studies told of her experience at U of T: “Huge classes, huge fee hikes, closed door meetings. In the day-to-day running of this place, we feel totally shut out and treated like numbers. The University of Toronto thinks we can’t make decisions for ourselves; tonight we proved we can.”
Scott Prudham, an Associate Professor of Geography and Vice President of the Faculty Association, described the need for a General Assembly. “The groups involved have many divergent experiences, but one concern we all share is that the administration is not listening to us.” According to Prudham, “We are seeing autocratic tendencies from our administration across several fronts that I would describe as nothing short of dangerous. Dangerous to students, dangerous to staff, and dangerous to our faculty and librarians. These developments compromise the core values of the institution.”
For further information: Johanna Lewis, undergraduate student: 416-797-8537; Leslie Jermyn, Sessional Instructor and Chair CUPE 3902: 647-236-3902