Statement by Ricardo Grinspun, at Senate Meeting, April 26, 2018 Reply

April 26, 2018

President Lenton, I rise today to ask that either you commit to making a meaningfully improved offer to CUPE 3903 in order to end the strike immediately or, failing that, offer your resignation, since you will have failed the academic mandate of this institution. Your letting down of the community of faculty, staff, students and their families will be beyond repair, unless we settle this strike now. If you are not able to take the necessary steps, it is time for you to step down and allow us to move on with the fundamental work of our university: To advance knowledge and scholarly work through a vibrant community of students and faculty – working together – for the betterment of our minds, lives and society.

The managerial and leadership approach that defines your administration is unsustainable and detrimental to the common good that characterizes a healthy university. Your uncompromising and unnecessarily aggressive approach displayed throughout the CUPE 3903 strike is profoundly inimical to the university as a public trust and the values espoused in our mission statement, such as collegial governance and academic freedom. The hardball approach to both governance and labour relations contradicts York’s publicly stated espousal of social justice, and the social justice-engaged research that defines so much of our university. Unfortunately, your actions confirm the concerns expressed by the 900 full time faculty who responded to the YUFA poll in November 2016, of whom only 11% supported your candidacy to be President of York.

The university is paying a very heavy price for your appointment. Your intransigent actions during the labour dispute, and the complete disregard of the impact on York’s academic reputation, speak clear. The community feels shocked and helpless in the face of your categorical refusal to bargain, your reckless brinkmanship, regardless of the cost for students, academic standing and our reputation. While pursuing a scorched earth approach to labour negotiations in the hope of crippling the union representing graduate students and contract faculty at York, you have hurt the lives of tens of thousands of students and brought disarray to our university.

Because of your refusal to bargain and your disdain for York’s students, the winter semester is threatened, and you have eroded academic integrity beyond recognition by proposed accommodations on a broad scale. Now your administration has announced the imminent cancellation of summer semesters. This announcement once again usurps the authority of Senate and Senate Executive to make decisions on class suspension due to a labour disruption. The Senate Executive Committee, on which you sit, has managed remediation in full deference to this administrative approach. It has created chaos and dysfunction within York, intensified the anxiety and stress of students, faculty and staff, and undermined the faith of the public in our university.

No amount of money poured into public relations or private security can obscure this reality. You now wear this reality.

President Lenton, speaking on behalf of thousands of faculty, staff and students, please know your actions so far do not have our confidence. Unless you move to settle this strike, we call for your resignation.

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