We hope your semester is going well. We just want to let you know about a very important General Assembly taking place next week.
GEOGRADS Special General Assembly
GEOGRADS is convening a Special General Assembly on March 24, at 4pm in H-1269, specifically to address two crucial issues:
- Bylaw changes required for GEOGRADS to incorporate, and
- A possible student strike against government austerity
These issues are explained below. The proposed Agenda for the meeting is at the bottom of this post.
As has been discussed in previous newsletters and General Assemblies, this year GEOGRADS is pursuing incorporation, with the ultimate goal of becoming accredited as a provincially-recognized student group. This provides several advantages, such as guaranteed space for GEOGRADS, and the possibility for greater financial independence from the GSA (the source of all GEOGRADS funding at the moment).
In order to carry this through, we need to ratify some bylaw changes. These changes are minor, and are just to make sure our bylaws are legally up to scruff for an incorporated non-profit. The old and new bylaws are both available under “Documents” on the right-hand sidebar.
GEOGRADS on Strike?
The Québec Liberal government is gutting the public sector across the board. It has imposed $172 million in cuts to education, as well as billions from other valuable public services, including health care. This means cuts of $15.7 million at Concordia, affecting 180 staff and faculty positions.
How do these cuts affect you?
- Tuition Fee Increase: By increasing tuition fees by 3.4% each year, the PQ made Quebec the province in Canada with the largest yearly tuition fee increase in terms of percentage. Regardless of the size of these hikes, they increasingly turn education into a commodity and inevitably reduce its accessibility.
- Cuts in Student Services: In times of austerity, universities begin by reducing services offered directly to students. For example, they cut audio-visual services, new book acquisitions and library memberships, rather than cut publicity or administrative services. Students must then seek out these services at their own cost, which particularly affects the most disadvantaged of us.
- Increasing the Student-To-Faculty Ratio: When they try to make the cost of each class “optimal”, administrations have a tendency to increase the number of students per professor, which in turn allows them to save on salaries and classrooms. This has a negative effect on the quality of education, affecting the interactions with students and making the subject matter harder to learn.
Student organizations representing over 30,000 across Montréal and the province of Québec have already voted to take strike actions, including the Fine Arts Student Association and SoPhiA (the philosophy students’ association) at Concordia. More information is available here and here.
It is now time for GEOGRADS to decide whether we will join the movement.
At the GEOGRADS General Assembly on March 24, at 4pm in H-1269, we will discuss whether or not, and in what capacity, we will join the movement. It is up to you to decide.
- Call to order
- Appointment of Chair and Secretary (external to GPE)
- Approve minutes to previous GA (these are available on the right-hand sidebar under “2015 Minutes”)
- Executive reports
- Introduction and reasoning for accrediting
- Bylaw changes
- Affirmation of interim directors
- Geography, Planning and Environment Federation
- Student Strike
- Introduction and reasoning for student strike
- Update on striking at Concordia
- Discussion of strike mandate
- Motion to join the strike
- Other business
- Motion in support of TAs at University of Toronto and York University