Updates on campaign to save Laurentian University

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OCUFA member associations continue to push back against Minister Romano for his role in the collapse of Laurentian University. We are seeing the positive impact of these efforts as the issue continues to be covered by the media. A highlight of last week was hearing OCUFA’s positions clearly laid out on The Agenda by Past President and Board Chair Gyllian Philips. Gyllian was joined by Nadia Verrelli, Associate Professor in Laurentian’s Department of Political Science (one of the many programs cut) and Sébastien Lalonde, Chair of the Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario. Please be sure to check out and circulate this segment of The Agenda as widely as possible: https://www.tvo.org/video/assessing-laurentian-universitys-deep-cuts.

Below is a digest of key events, media coverage, and political action from the past week to save Laurentian.

OCUFA continues to pressure Romano and the Ford government

OCUFA continues to put pressure on Minister Romano and the Ford government. This last week we saw mounting criticism on the provincial government as a result of its handling of the pandemic. Public confidence in the Ford government is waning, and that was before Premier Ford’s press conference last Thursday where he was consistently put on the spot by reporters for his lack of support of paid sick days and misguided decisions (which were later revised) of closing playgrounds and increased policing powers.

Now it is more important than ever to continue to call for the resignation of Romano. A number of OCUFA member associations have taken up this call as highlighted below.

OCUFA faculty association political action summary

Each week since the CCAA proceeding at Laurentian began, different OCUFA member associations have stepped up to pressure the Ford government to invest immediately in the university to end the insolvency process.

Last Monday was a busy day! The Executives at both the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association (WLUFA) and the Ontario College of Art and Design Faculty Association (OCADFA) passed motions calling for the resignation of Minister Romano, Laurentian President Robert Haché and his senior administration team. The Ryerson Faculty Association Executive also passed a similar motion on Tuesday, April 20.

Be sure to check out the WLUFA for LUFA campaign page for more information and ideas on member outreach! In addition, OCADFA has created a number of excellent online art pieces that target Romano and the Ford government that are available for all faculty to use in solidarity actions and campaign work: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Xze8bkDAaPvS-Mgq3_Hl0nvIB9t1cra8.

On Tuesday, OCADFA used some of these images to hold a virtual Fire Ross Romano event, in collaboration with the York University Faculty Association and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario. The event called out Romano for knowing about the financial challenges Laurentian was facing at least six months before they became public and doing nothing. People at the virtual protest told Minister Romano—represented by a 3D art piece—why they thought he should not be in charge of Ontario’s colleges and universities anymore. Videos from the event are available to share here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1aNMZOiykvff1jgnrlX8EWn7XvKcfd8mo.

In addition, OCADFA President Min Sook Lee wrote an article for Rabble titled Laurentian University crisis a story of political interference and defunding of education, in which she describes the defunding of education and the need for all levels of government to “invest in our collective futures and purposefully build truly universal, high-quality, accessible education that begins with child care and continues to post-secondary.”

More Senate motions in support of the Laurentian University community have been passed at the University of Ottawa and Saint Paul University.

The University of Ottawa’s motion recognizes that the Laurentian community’s bilingual, tricultural mission and survival have been threatened, and reiterates the Senate’s commitment to continuing “the fight for the rights of Aboriginal community and Francophone minorities in Ontario and across Canada”. It also requests Laurentian University’s leadership examine all options to reduce the negative impact on students and faculty-researchers, and calls on “the provincial and federal governments to ensure adequate funding of Francophone or bilingual universities in minority settings in order to prevent such a situation from once again threatening postsecondary education in French across Canada.”

Saint Paul University’s Senate motion recognizes: the integral nature of a bicameral model of university governance to the health, integrity, and success of academic institutions; and the need for any termination of a program to be assessed on academic grounds and not for reasons of financial exigency. The motion also expressed the Saint Paul University Senate’s opposition to the application of the CCAA to public institutions.

On April 21, the Provost at Nipissing spoke in favour of the motion Nipissing University Faculty Members had brought to their last Senate meeting. All of the administrative representatives voted in favour, resulting in the motion passing unanimously.

Watch for updates and sign up for the weekly OCUFA newsletter (OCUFA Report) at www.ocufa.on.ca.

Please regularly check our campaign website and www.northernsolidarity.ca as we are adding new resources to our toolkit on a regular basis.

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