Letter to the Editors, Queen’s Journal, 5 April 2012:
We are a group of students and faculty here at Queen’s who have been inspired by the
(re-) emergence of political consciousness and activism across North America. We would like to share what we have learned throughout our activities for Occupy Queen’s (OcQpy). While our actions have been a lot of fun, they also reflect a sad truth: universities like Queen’s are undergoing radical change.
On Feb. 2 we teamed up with the SGPS and PSAC 901 to bring student debt out into the open. As part of the national “drop fees” day of action called for by the Canadian Federation of Students (CFIS), we occupied the Queen’s Centre and engaged in conversations with students about their personal experiences. In keeping with Ontario averages, most Queen’s students we talked to are or will be around $20,000 in debt by the time they graduate. Of the minority who aren’t experiencing debt, most rely on their parents, even with part-time and/or summer employment. Clearly most of us are struggling with the spectre of massive debt with reactions ranging from quiet apprehension to fear. It has been an essential — and chilling — experience to connect to one another about this new aspect of student life.
We came out in support of the Senate and faculty boards in resisting the power grab currently underway by the administration and the Board of Trustees. In a radical break with centuries of academic self-governance and (partial) democracy, our unelected managers have reserved the “right” to treat any matter involving financial considerations as purely financial, and to be theirs to decide unilaterally.
Recently we have started protesting, petitioning and symbolically burning the Drummond Report page-by-page, in a gesture of resistance against the vision of a banker seeking to remould the public sphere in the interests and to the benefit of large corporations and high finance, without even the pretense of public consultation.
In the face of these ongoing threats to our collective institutions, we cannot afford to remain silent or passive, but must rather raise our own voices and claim some measure of participation in the shape of our personal and professional future, our community at Queen’s and the fabric of our future society.
Andreas Reichelt, Matt Shuttz and Ellen Young, on behalf of Occupy Queen’s.