I haven’t been blogging the strike as well as I should have been, but luckily MUNACA has been at http://munacastrike.wordpress.com. Highlights of the last couple weeks: solidarity groups have really come together. Although MFLAG’s website shows little action (that should change soon), the group has been furiously busy. There has also be a little administration pushback. While it is common for profs on US and Canadian campuses to take classes off campus during a strike such as this one, the administration has come down on people who have, demanding that they return to campus or be suspended without pay and relieved of all duties until they do.
It’s funny. While I completely and wholeheartedly support taking classes off campus as a simple matter of academic freedom (keeping in mind that some accommodations need to be made for students), I decided not to myself mostly for logistical reasons and because I felt it was more symbolic than anything else (since when eg Canada post doesn’t cross the picket line, the mail doesn’t get delivered), and that I would support the strike in other ways. But now that I see how big a deal McGill admin is making out of it, I am all the more committed to defending it. I can only guess as to why they think this is an important place to impose discipline, but since they do, it obviously matters more than I initially thought it did.
Given how things stand, I invite you to sign a petition in support of the right of McGill faculty to take their classes off campus in support of labor actions. I would point out that some other universities, like McMaster, actually have procedures and policies in place to allow this to happen. And before the admin decided it was an issue, high level administrators themselves said it was well within the range of academic freedom to do so. Until he retracted the statement, Deputy Provost for Student Life and Learning Morton Mendelson had said that relocation of classes “is not an issue unless professors cease teaching altogether.” (That’s a paraphrase but as often as I have been misquoted in the news, that seems like a hard one to get wrong)
Here’s the petition to sign. Please sign it and facebook, link and tweet it. Thank you!