The Concordia Declaration for Quality and Accessibility in Higher Education

(Pour la version français, cliquez ici!)

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We, the undersigned, are members of Concordia University’s faculty, research and teaching assistants, associates, and other academic workers.

The current provincial government has proposed an historically unprecedented tuition fee increase of $1,625 over the next five years. Should this increase pass, students in the 2016-2017 academic year will be paying 127% more than students just ten years before them.

Even the government admits that of the $850 million dollars they anticipate to generate through their financing plan, less than a third will even go to teaching, learning, or research in Quebec universities. Historically, we know that tuition fee increases in Quebec have never been used to improve working conditions or salaries, or provide for increased resources in the laboratory or the classroom. Rather, the increase is simply an attempt to shift the financial burden from the government onto the backs of individual students. Increased tuition will be used to pay off deficits and expand already-bloated bureaucracies both in Quebec City and in our universities.

We believe this increase is both unjust and unjustifiable. More than anything, we deeply value the privilege and challenge of working with students from a diversity of economic, cultural, and social backgrounds. In the context of reduced funding, increased tuition, and a broken and outmoded financial aid system, it is statistically clear that this tuition fee increase will shut otherwise academically capable students from university either at the point of entry or deter them from further studies.

We believe that academic excellence in teaching and research begins with reaffirming the financial accessibility of university studies, to which this increase is a clear barrier. This specific tuition fee increase in not a solution to underfunding of post secondary institutions, the mismanagement of public resources, or the competitiveness of Quebec institutions.

We are aware that students at Concordia, both in individual departments and faculties, and in a student body-wide General Assembly on March 7th, will vote on whether they wish to go on strike along with hundreds of thousands of students from across Quebec against the fee increase. Student strikes have historically been successful tools to combat cuts to financial aid and increases to the cost of a degree in this province and it appears inevitable that this will be considered once more by students in 2012.

Though we are contractually bound to continue working throughout the duration of a student strike, we personally pledge the following:

In whatever ways we are reasonably able, that we will try to accommodate students who make a decision not to attend class or participate in academic work during a strike (for example, some professors may alter the weighting of graded assignments, create provisions for assignment due date changes, and so on);

That we will inform the students we work with and the classes we teach that we have signed this declaration and initiate dialogue with our students about possible accommodations when appropriate;

That we will raise this issue with our peers and share this statement with those around us in the academic community.

We furthermore call on University Senators to consider the question of granting a formal academic amnesty for all students who are members of associations that have voted to strike.

With high hopes for the future,

Signed below (endorsements will only be public after 50 signatures)

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