Jun 28 2014

The Plight of Hidden Academics

Category: Academic Freedom,Academic Integrity,Contract FacultyBob Hanke @ 11:50 am

on TVO, The Agenda, June 23, 2014

Many of Ontario’s colleges and universities employ sessional lecturers. What does that mean for the quality of education Ontario students are receiving?

Panelists: Moria MacDonald, Marie Van der Kloet, Bob Hanke

To watch this half-episode, follow this link.

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May 27 2010

Students Sow Seeds of Dissent

Category: NewsBob Hanke @ 12:26 pm

Canada’s New Dissenting Academy
by Matthew Brett
(excerpted from The Bullet, May 25, 2010)

As the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences prepares for its annual Congress this May in Montreal, now is the time to create a new dissenting academy. A radical, anti-capitalist reorientation of academia – created for the explicit purpose of addressing urgent issues that stand before us – is necessary.

Theodore Roszak wrote in a collection of essays titled The Dissenting Academy (1967) that the university is rarely “anything better than the handmaiden of official society: the social club of ruling elites, the training school of whatever functionaries the status quo required.”

In the same collection of essays, Marshall Windmiller wrote a remarkable piece on political scientists in the U.S. and their direct involvement in the CIA and the war in Vietnam. Noam Chomsky’s infamous The Responsibility of Intellectuals closed the essay collection.

All authors agreed that the line between universities, the corporate world and government has blurred to irrelevancy. Social scientists were likewise active in planning some of the worst atrocities in recent history, and dissent within the academic community was shunned. The parallels with today are compelling.

Corporatization and the University

Concordia University will be hosting the 2010 Humanities and Social Science Congress this May, so parallels with the 1960s can be drawn with Concordia. However, most universities in Canada share similar characteristics, and this critique should be applied in equal measure to all post-secondary institutions.

Concordia President Judith Woodsworth recently returned from a mission to India with Quebec Premier Jean Charest and a number of business leaders. There can be no doubt that some of the 130 trade delegation members that joined the trade mission are part of Canada’s massive mining and finance sectors that trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange and are busy exploiting India’s natural resources while gross human rights violations take place. This is representative of the intertwining of universities and Canadian imperialism.

To read the rest of this article, click here.

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Apr 27 2009

Majority of Members Abstain from Ratifying New Collective Agreement

Category: Post-strike Discussion (2009)Bob Hanke @ 12:51 pm

While the April 24, 2009 headlines read CUPE 3903 ratifies mediated multi-year agreements with York University, here is a breakdown of the actual Unit 2 voting results:

70% Yes (117 people voted)
28% No (46 people voted)
2% spoiled ballots (4 people voted)

With about 900 members, this represents only 18.5 % of the eligible voters. 733 people, or 81.4%, abstained from voting altogether. If participation in voting is essential to give legitimacy to political-economic authority and decision making, these results suggest that this “negotiated agreement” lacks such legitimacy.

President Shoukri claims that York “values the skills and talents of our employees.” In reality, graduate employees and contract faculty are the ghosts in the massified teaching factory. More of the curriculum has been allocated to them but they appear and disappear only to be replaced by new Ph.Ds or hired on per-course contracts to fill curricular holes as needed. The 2008-09 York University strike was, in the first instance, symptomatic of a university system in crisis. The results indicate that contract faculty feel too demoralized and depressed to vote when they have been stripped of their democractic right to collective bargaining in the name of  “financial stability.” They may feel devalued when the interests of “students based upon academic integrity” are pitted against any collective effort to expose the casualization of acadmic labour and its consequences.

In short, the results show that we have much work to do before the next round of collective bargaining begins. In the double crisis of the university and the economy, continuous organizing and mobilizing will be necessary. Let us work together so as to not waste this crisis.

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Feb 07 2009

French Universities are on a Permanent Strike

Category: Newsjonnyj @ 12:04 pm

The French system of universities is public, with teachings and research of high quality. It has always enjoyed independence, liberty and recognition. But, within the past few months, the government has decided, brutally and without any concertation, to end this system and replace it by some sort of marketplace model of research where arbitrary decisions and instability prevail.

  • The previous statute of the academics has ended and their teaching duties are now decided on face value.
  • Permanent positions are being cut dramatically and being replaced by temporary, insecure and dependent positions.
  • PhD students can now be fired without any justification during the first six months of their PhD, and are now made available to private industries without any recognition of their rights.
  • The training of teachers is in distress.
  • Universities are autonomous (but in fact, they compete with each other under a reinforced government control) and without sufficient funding, they will soon have to put in place tuition fees and put themselves under the influence of local funding sources.
  • The CNRS is suppressed and changed into a funding agency managed by technocrats.
  • Academic researches are evaluated by inadequate and inept “quantitative means” rejected by all scholar societies.

We, academics and researches from all around the world, assert that these decisions are bureaucratic, financially motivated and dangerous. Similar decisions were or are imposed in other institutions of many countries. As such, we support the French academics in their fight. If, the education and the research of the country of the Encyclopédie, of Voltaire and Rousseau, and of the Declaration of Human Rights, are now reduced to market laws and under the influence of the political powers, then it is the freedom of the whole world that is under threat.

The powers that are imposing this new deal are organizing themselves. To defend our common values, we need to organize ourselves better and in greater number. Therefore, we call for all academics of all political sides, of all beliefs and of all creeds to join to oppose these changes that no humanist scientists of any time ever supported.


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Feb 03 2009

York University President Accused of Academic Fraud

Category: News,Point of Informationjonnyj @ 10:44 am

York University President Mamdouh Shoukri has perpetrated an outrageous fraud at York University. On January 26, he publicly announced the appointment of Martin Singer as the founding Dean of the new Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, which will be the largest university Faculty in Canada. Shoukri, who chaired the Search Committee in a secret process, declared that “York University is fortunate to have attracted such a strong scholar,” described as “a renowned scholar of Chinese history.”

In fact, as the attached letter from distinguished historian of China Arif Dirlik attests Martin Singer is neither renowned nor a scholar. He is unpublished and unknown in the field of Chinese history.

President Shoukri’s fraudulent promotion of Martin SInger as the most powerful academic administrator at York University is a scandal and a disgrace to the academic profession. It is an insult to the York community and a threat to the academic reputation of York University. In any reputable university, lying about scholarly credentials is the gravest offence, akin to misleading investors in the financial world. President Shoukri must resign and the search for a credible Dean for York’s largest Faculty must be renewed, to be followed by a search for a credible President.

– York Faculty Concerned about the Future of York University


To read the Y-File story on “renowned scholar” Martin Singer , click here.


To read the Excalbur story on “Singer: ‘I am not a renowned scholar’,” click here.