(Anti-)Corporatization

This working group was struck at the first University of Toronto General Assembly.

Minutes and Resolutions | Announcements and Meetings

Minutes and Resolutions

Minutes from break-out session (pdf file).

Report-back to the general assembly from break-out session:

Member: The last two groups have also come up with actionable items. We broke into discussion that corporatization both in context of corporate influence and corporate structure. In both contexts we have action items. The language of the university has to be expunged of corporate lexicon, e.g. end the idea that this is a “partially funded” university and change it to one in which we are _________. The university needs to wean its reliance off private funding and make itself a publicly funded university. Money that is currently accepted might be accepted behind a “veil of ignorance”—if it comes into the university, the university accepts it, and the only ones who can direct that are responsible to the university. Action items: (1) Revoke the Munk agreement. (2) Monitor all private donations coming into the university, and find a mechanism to know what’s going on with respect to this. In particular we want to monitor advancement, which has both a central aspect and satellites in faculties. (3) To have ____ on the steering committee. In the long term, we want to have the university no longer accepts private donations, to completely end private influence over the university. Another goal is to end the corporate- or market-based budget model that tends to atomize groups and imposes on them market-based incentives, and to replace this with a budget model in which the body politic determines priorities in all aspects of the university.

Minutes and approved motions from the second assembly will be added within the week (before 03/08/11).

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Announcements and Meetings

For Immediate Release:

University of Toronto’s Governing Council raises tuition fees, bars access for students, workers and faculty

Toronto, April 8th

Students, workers, and faculty at the University of Toronto gathered yesterday to rally against the privatization of funding and decision-making at the university. The rally began outside of Simcoe Hall, where University’s Governing Council was meeting. Renowned intellectual and visiting speaker Noam Chomsky addressed the crowd about the need for free and accessible education. Campus and community members were angered by the agenda for this particular Governing Council meeting. Governors were set to ignore a motion served by a student governor calling for a renegotiation of the Munk Foundation’s contentious donation contract with UofT, and to increase tuition fees so that for the first time ever, tuition and user fees are projected to surpass public funding in UofT’s operating budget.

University privatization means that the campus’ governing bodies are less accountable to the public, including students, workers and faculty – at the same time, governors are demanding that students pay more. “We don’t want corporate or bureaucratic control over the terms of our teaching, research or learning, yet the strings attached to the Munk donation mean that the activities of the new School of Global Affairs have to effectively be approved by the board of the Munk Foundation,” says Gavin Smith, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. Smith finds these strings particularly troubling because Peter Munk is the founder and chairman of Barrick Gold, a company accused of human rights and environmental abuses around the world. Barrick Gold is also currently pursuing SLAPP lawsuits against three authors who have written about these issues.

After the rally, a hundred students, workers, faculty and allies proceeded inside the building to observe the GC meeting. According to paragraph 18 of the University of Toronto Act (1971), these meetings are open to members of the public. However, six officers from campus police blocked the doors to Council Chambers, preventing students, workers, and faculty from entering the meeting. Among those denied access were elected student representatives who were scheduled to speak on proposed tuition fee increases. Security insisted that Council Chambers was full, although reports from inside indicated that the 120-capacity room contained no more than 80 people. Frustrated about being repeatedly excluded from decisions about their own school and livelihoods, those gathered outside of Council Chambers began to chant, clap, and stomp to assert their presence.

Morgan Vanek, Member-Elect of Governing Council and Ph.D. Student in the Department of English, was inside Council Chambers. “The noise of people protesting outside Council Chamber was deafening,” she said, “But the Governors nonetheless voted to approve a tuition increase without discussion.” Vanek continued, “it’s obvious to me that there is a real problem when students, workers, and faculty are reduced to banging on a door to have their voices heard. It is time that we reconsider how this University is governed.”

Undergraduate student and participant Juan Carlos Jimenez found the experience to be empowering. “The energy [outside of Council Chambers] was incredible,” says Jimenez, adding that “for some of the people I met, this was their first time engaging in a protest. To see the Governing Council actively and physically alienate people who study and work here convinced a lot of us that something is seriously wrong, and that we need to work to change that.” Jimenez says that he is looking forward to future actions, and anticipates larger numbers and a greater impact.

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For more information, please contact:
Juan Carlos Jimenez, undergraduate student – 647-889-1756
Gavin Smith, Professor Emeritus – 416-535-6850
Johanna Lewis, undergraduate student – 416-797-8537

 

WHAT: Rally Against the Corporate Takeover of UofT
WHEN: Thursday April 7th, 3:00-5:30 pm
WHERE: Meet on U.T.S.U. lawn (facing Hart House), march to Governing Council (Simcoe Hall)
FACEBOOK EVENT: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=145266022206655

The anti-corporatization working group of the UT General Assembly calls on members of the UofT community and allies to unite to oppose a corporatized vision for our university. On Thursday, we will rally against the Munk “donation” and Governing Council’s tacit approval of privatized education.

The UofT administration is partnering with the Munk Foundation to create the Munk School of Global Affairs. The administration wants to generate discourses around global issues that are financed by and subject to the annual approval of the Munk Foundation. Peter Munk is the chairman of the mining company Barrick Gold, a corporation facing frequent allegations of international human rights and environmental abuses.  What’s more, Barrick is currently pursuing lawsuits against three academics who have written about these issues.

As staff, students, faculty, and allies, we do not want our university to partner with Barrick Gold. We are suspicious of the kinds of “academic” activities that the Munk Foundation encourages, and concerned about what forms of knowledge production will become excluded.

Even the UofT administration seems to know that taking money from Peter Munk is a bad idea. Negotiations around the agreement were kept secret, even from the Governing Council – a body that is, at best, a façade of democracy. At the last GC meeting, when a student governor presented notice of a Munk-related motion, the chair tried to prevent her from speaking. Though the motion was served with due notice, it is notably absent from the agenda of this upcoming GC meeting.

The governing bodies at UofT run our university like a business. Mergers with other corporations are sought, while members of the university community are dismissed as nothing more than income and labour units. On Thursday, at the same time that we are being kept off the agenda at GC, governors will be voting to increase tuition fees so that for the FIRST TIME EVER, tuition and other fees are projected to surpass public sources of funding in UofT’s projected budget.

We will rally on Thursday to show GC that we are not silent sources of profit; that we are the university. We will gather with Professor Noam Chomsky after his much-anticipated lecture on the State-Corporate Complex, in order to extract our university from complicity in this doctrine. We will rally to enact a new vision for UofT that reflects the interest of our community, not corporations and not neo-liberal governments.

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Also check out the Munk out of UofT petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/munkoff/petition.html

To contact us, please email <utga-anti-corporatization@googlegroups.com>

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