Students protest military conference at University of Toronto
Tuesday April 10 2012 – 1pm – Hart House

Toronto – Students and community members, enraged at Harper’s government lies around F-35 costs, will be out in force at the University of Toronto to protest a high-level military conference, “Afghanistan: The Australian and the Canadian Experience Compared” sponsored by the Munk School of Global Affairs. The protest is set to coincide with a speech by Major-General Jonathan Vance, Director of Staff, Strategic Joint Staff, Canadian Forces, one of the architects of the war in Afghanistan.

“The Harper government is putting billions into buying fighter jets while the province is defunding education, forcing Universities to take corporate money and hand over decision-making to companies like Barrick Gold”, explains Daniel Vandervoort, External Vice-President, University of Toronto Graduate Students Union.

The Munk School of Global Affairs was established by secret contract between UofT administration and billionaire Peter Munk, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Barrick Gold. Recently Barrick Gold’s lawsuit against Quebec publisher Écosociété ended in an agreement to cease publication of scholar Alain Denault’s book Noir Canada, which documents Canadian mining companies’ role in promoting war and militarization in Africa’s Great Lakes region. In light of these developments, UofT’s Munk contract has triggered concerns among students and faculty about threats to academic integrity.

“This conference is a platform for soldiers and policy makers to further concretize the occupation and destabilization of Afghanistan”, says Ali Ibrahimi of Afghans for Peace. “The University of Toronto should be critically challenging U.S. foreign policies that disenfranchise Afghans and demanding that the Canadian government advocate peaceful alternatives, not furthering the war in Afghanistan.”

Currently 950 Canadian soldiers are in Afghanistan as part of a 130,000 strong army that has been occupying the country since 2002. In all, approximately 2,953 foreign soldiers, 158 of which were Canadian and an estimated 37,000 Afghanis and another 36,000 Pakistanis have died since the outbreak of the conflict in 2002.

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For more information,
Jacob Nerenberg, 647-865-1981
Daniel Vandervoort, 647-838-9403

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The University is Ours!

A Conference on Struggles Within and Beyond the Neoliberal University
April 27-29, 2012
Toronto, Ontario

The university belongs to us, those who teach, learn, research, council, clean, and create community. Together we can and do make the university work.

But today this university is in crisis. The neoliberal restructuring of post-secondary education seeks to further embed market logic and corporate-style management into the academy, killing consultation, autonomy and collective decision-making. The salaries of university presidents and the ranks of administrators swell, but the people the university is supposed to serve — students — are offered assembly-line education as class sizes grow, faculty is over-worked, and teaching positions become increasingly precarious. International students and scholars seeking post-secondary or graduate education are treated as cash cows rather than as people who might contribute to both research and society. Debt-burdened students are seen as captive markets by administrators, while faculty is encouraged to leverage public funds for private research on behalf of corporate sponsors.

The attack on what remains of public education has been total. Over the last year we have witnessed the closure of humanities programmes, further tuition hikes, the replacement of financial support with loans, union lockouts, and the accelerated development of private, for-profit universities. Yet at the same time we have seen growing waves of struggle against these incursions, as students, staff and faculty in Europe, Latin America, and across the Middle East organize, occupy and resist the transformation.

Our struggles are not limited to the university, but are a part the widespread resistance against the neoliberal market logic subsuming all sectors of our society. The university is a key battleground in this struggle, and a point of conjuncture for the various labour, economic and social justice struggles that face all of us – workers and students alike. Crucially, these struggles occur on stolen indigenous lands and manifest through colonialism, racism, sexism, homophobia, ablism and other forms of oppression that hurt and divide us and that shape what sorts of knowledge are considered valuable.

We cannot cede the ideal of the university as a site for struggle and debate. We cannot permit the dissolution of proliferating research, ideas and innovations free from the demands and control of the market. We cannot watch as universities are degraded into a mere site for corporate or state-sponsored research and marketing. The time to mobilize is now!

This conference will connect and chart the varied struggles against neoliberal restructuring of the university in North America and beyond. We envision a series of debriefings on experiences of resistance, the creation of a cartography of local and global struggles, and a strategizing session for students, teachers, workers and activists. We aim to develop a North American network of struggles.

We encourage presentations that raise questions and generate dialogue among the rest of the participants. Ideally, submissions will indicate the specific outcomes they hope will emerge from the discussion. We encourage participation from those with first-hand experience of these crises, and those engaged in the fight for free and public post-secondary education, especially student groups and trade unions.

For a better future for all – join us!

POSSIBLE THEMES:

  • mapping the terrain of campus struggle in Canada and North America
  • connecting with and learning from global struggles
  • waged and unwaged labour in the university
  • abolition of student debt
  • the university and the occupy movement
  • the cultural politics of the neoliberal university
  • the death of the humanities
  • militarization of the university
  • intersections of university struggles other fights against oppression
  • environmental justice
  • beyond public education
  • radical pedagogy
  • academic freedom
  • the politics of research funding
  • the economics of the neoliberal university
  • university and student governance
  • the undergraduate experience of neoliberalism
  • alternative/free/autonomous universities
  • organizing the education factory
  • the suppression of on-campus dissent and organization

Please email submissions to universityisours@gmail.com by January 16th. Also, if you would like to attend the conference, please RSVP to the same address so organizers can plan for numbers.

This conference is organized by the edu-factory collective in collaboration with the University of Toronto General Assembly.

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