Media Studies Graduate Students at Concordia University Renew Their Strike Commitment

Students and faculty from Communication Studies at Concordia University gather at Jean Belliveau sculpture before heading as a group to the March 22, 2012 protest. 2012 @ Krista Geneviève Lynes.

Dear Faculty, Staff and Fellow Students,

After careful deliberation, students in the MA Media Studies program at Concordia University have collectively decided to renew our strike on an ongoing basis, to be reviewed weekly. We demand that the Charest government open dialogue with students and rescind the scheduled tuition hikes.

In accordance with the GSA’s resolution, we will not be attending class nor submitting coursework in recognition that they are inseparable. We agree with PhD students in the department that to submit coursework while not attending class implies that class time is irrelevant. We also declare our support for doctoral, undergraduate, and diploma students in Communication Studies in their own ongoing strike actions. Our position reflects the majority of students in our program, but we also acknowledge the individual circumstances that may limit the extent to which some of us can participate in the strike.

We see this action as a strike and not a boycott – in ceasing our coursework, we seek to make visible the detrimental impact of tuition hikes on our futures but also to make visible the very real labour of our research and course participation, which enriches the programs and atmosphere of our department, individual professors’ research, and the university at large. We understand that a student strike differs from a labour strike, and we use such language knowingly. Although we may not be bound by a labour contract, we are part of a student association and feel that the strike is a necessary collective action. In calling our action a strike, we seek to align ourselves with student movements and protests province-wide against privatization and for academic freedom and accessible education. We do not consider ourselves consumers passively receiving a service (as the term “boycott” implies); we believe that education is a right.

By participating in the strike, we believe that we are raising the bar for the quality of education and research in the Department of Communication Studies. We feel strongly that low tuition fees allow students from diverse backgrounds to attend university, which in turn nourishes the quality, creativity and diversity of our programs.

On March 22, students and faculty from the Department of Communication Studies marched together in order to speak out against tuition hikes and privatization, and in support of accessible education. We joined in protest with members of the community in a broader social movement: parents, grandparents, children, business people, and union members are all part of the fight for accessible education. This movement is exemplary of our ongoing solidarity: students and faculty are now working together in the community.

Our desire is to continue to move forward with you. We appeal to faculty for continued solidarity in our struggle against the Charest government’s position. Beginning this week, we intend to expand our strike actions to focus upon public media interventions.

Although we do not think that online dialogue is a replacement for the productive conversation and face-to-face interactions that take place in the classroom, we appreciate and support the alternative ways in which professors have initiated dialogue and made public their views on the tuition hikes in solidarity with students’ actions. Examples of these efforts are the websites http://altunies.wordpress.com and http://profscontrelahausse.org.

With the growing solidarity among students and faculty, we would like to request an opportunity to meet with faculty in the next two weeks. In this meeting, we will engage in dialogue with professors about working together, in solidarity, during the course of the strike and to answer any questions that faculty may have for us. We would like to send representatives from our cohort, along with representatives from the undergraduate, diploma, and PhD programs. Our aim is to find collective ways to channel our growing momentum to levels that reach beyond our department.

Once again, we appreciate the support faculty have provided thus far, and we encourage you to continue supporting us in our call for accessible education.

Sincerely,

MA Media Studies Students
Department of Communication Studies
Concordia University

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