WHAT: Anti-Corporatization and Privatization Rally
WHERE: Meet on U.T.S.U. lawn (facing Hart House), march to Governing Council (Simcoe Hall)
WHEN: Thursday, April 7, 3-5:30 m
The Anti-Corporatization Working Group of the UT General Assembly is calling a rally today outside of the University of Toronto’s Governing Council to protest the Munk “donation” and the privatization of education. Professor Noam Chomsky, speaking at a public lecture in the afternoon, has expressed support for the cause and is expected to make an appearance at the rally.
Organizers claim that the administration wants to generate discourses around global issues that are financed by and subject to the annual approval of the Munk Foundation. Peter Munk is the chairman of the mining company Barrick Gold, a corporation facing frequent allegations of international human rights and environmental abuses. What’s more, Barrick is currently pursuing lawsuits against three academics who have written about these issues.
“The University of Toronto does not belong to Naylor nor to any private interests for that matter,” says Gavin Smith, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Toronto and member of the anti-corporatization working group. “It belongs to all of us – students, teachers, staff workers and the community at large. This is where its quality lies, not in acting as the front for token gestures by rapacious mining interests.”
Even the UofT administration seemed to expect controversy surrounding the acceptance of Munk’s money. Negotiations around the agreement were kept secret, even from the Governing Council – a body that is, at best, a façade of democracy. At the last GC meeting, when a student governor presented notice of a Munk-related motion, the chair tried to prevent her from speaking. Though the motion was served with due notice, the executive committee of GC arbitrarily voted to remove the item from the agenda of Thursday’s meeting, thereby stifling any debate on the topic.
“The omission of the motion from the agenda comes as no surprise. Its indicative of broader patterns of exclusion, marginalization and silencing of student, faculty, and workers’ voices from decision-making at the University,” stated Joeita Gupta, a student member of the University of Toronto Governing Council. “Please come together to keep our university public: say no to the corporate take-over of the University and to back-door fee increases.”
In addition to protesting the Munk contract, the rally targeted the privatization of the University of Toronto. At the meeting, the Governing Council is set to approve tuition increases that would ensure that for the first time ever, tuition and other fees would surpass public sources of funding in UofT’s projected budget.
The message of the rally is clear: students, teachers, staff workers, and the public are not silent sources of profit; they are the university. And they will rally to enact a new vision for UofT that reflects the interest of their community, not corporations and not neo-liberal governments.