YFS Statement Regarding the CUPE 3903 Strike Reply

March 14, 2018

We have entered the second week of the CUPE 3903 strike and the York Administration has declined all offers from CUPE 3903 to continue bargaining and reach an agreement. We are incredibly disappointed in this decision, as we believe that if the University bargains in good faith, and offers a fair and affordable package, without setting up pre-conditions, this strike can end. Our paramount concern has been for our members; the undergraduate students, and the impact this strike is having on them, and therefore we strongly encourage York University Administration to continue bargaining with the urgency it requires, as opposed to forcing students to cross picket lines.

Our continued stance is that education is a right, not a privilege. Many of our members work precarious jobs with little, and in the case of un-paid internships: no pay, with zero job security. Even as they work long and hard hours, while balancing classes and completing schoolwork, they live well below the poverty line. Consequently, the YFS supports CUPE 3903 as they demand that their members don’t have to live below the poverty line, that hard work is rewarded with job security, equity and justice in the workplace, and that workers are fairly compensated and not ruthlessly exploited. Workers Rights and Student Rights are Human Rights.

In accordance with York University’s Senate Policy, section 2.2 Fairness to Students, while CUPE 3903 remains on strike, undergraduate students have the right to refuse to cross picket lines without facing any penalties. The York Administration has shown a complete disregard to the plight of undergraduate students by choosing to continue courses, despite the fact that 60 percent of the teaching staff are on strike. The YFS further condemns the ongoing divisive tactics employed by the York University Administration amongst undergraduate students and their instructors: students should not be pitted against themselves and their educators, bullied and threatened to complete course work, nor should they be forced into crossing the picket lines.

The York Federation of Students (YFS) has been a leading advocate for affordable post-secondary education: fighting for lower tuition fees, more grants and greater fairness for international students. Therefore, the York Federation of Students remains undivided in solidarity with Teachers Assistants, Contract Faculty, Graduate Assistants and Research Assistants who have been treated unfairly by the York University Administration, as they continue to fight for a fair, accessible and affordable educational environment.

The York Federation of Students represents over 50,000 undergraduate students at York University and will continue to mobilize for more affordable, accessible education not just for undergraduates, but for all students.

For more information please contact:

Rawan Habib, President, York Federation of Students president@yfs.ca or

Murtaza Ghulam, Executive Director, York Federation of Students, executivedirector@yfs.ca

Open Letter to Colleagues from the Faculty of Education 1

March 7, 2018

Dear Colleagues:

We are writing to express our concern with our Faculty’s handling of the recent strike and to offer what we wish to be constructive recommendations for moving forward. Faculties of Education have long histories and ties to Teacher Federation labour struggles to ensure the place and protection of teachers in the profession, and children and families in the communities they serve. Indeed, the OCT recognizes this professional history in their quick suspension of the practicum block during the period of the strike.

Rather than acknowledge this history and commitment to the profession, the first response of the administration of the Faculty of Education was to send a deeply problematic form for instructors to outline their reasons for possibly suspending their courses. According to the University Faculty Senate, Professors have the professional right and responsibility to determine if the academic integrity of their course is compromised by the strike.

We feel our Faculty’s collective first responses should be to reach out to students and our school and community partners, suspend all courses and to send a note to our students informing them of our academic and professional responsibility to do so. So many of our courses rely on the support of Graduate Assistants, Seconded and Contracted faculty with strong ties to Unions. Moreover, our graduate program is made up of students who support our Pre-Service and BA (Educational Studies) programs. It is critical that the Faculty of Education of all faculties, show measured support of and pedagogical responsibility for our graduate and undergraduate students.  Above all, collegial principles of education require professors in times of social and political turmoil to take a stand for their students and colleagues.

This is not the first time we have been called upon to respond to a strike and, yet, each time it seems more difficult for us as a faculty, (especially because of the unfortunate cancellation of faculty council meeting this month) to engage critical issues of academic integrity and faculty governance. We call for constructive, principled discussion of collegial process in the spirit of collegiality, as well as mutual respect and understanding for our students and each other during and after the strike.


Steve Alsop (Professor)
Ixchel Bennett (Seconded Faculty)
Khaled Barkaoui (Associate Professor)
Warren Crichlow (Associate Professor)
Roopa Desai Trilokekar (Associate Professor)
Mario Di Paolantonio (Associate Professor)
Don Dippo (University Professor)
Jen Jenson (Professor)
Isabel Killoran (Associate Professor)
Didi Khayatt, (Professor)
Joy Mannette (Associate Professor)
Aparna Mishra Tarc (Associate Professor)
Naomi Norquay (Associate Professor)
Gillian Parekh (Assistant Professor)
Tina Rapke (Assistant Professor)
Theresa Shanahan (Associate Professor)
Vidya Shah (Seconded Faculty)
Nastassia Subban (Seconded Faculty)
Kurt Thumlert (Assistant Professor)



York Board of Governors appears ready to appoint Rhonda Lenton as president despite overwhelming rejection from cross-campus constituencies -Statement to the York Community Reply

A successful presidential search celebrates the appointment of an individual who inspires, motivates and brings together a diverse university community. In contrast, appointing the wrong individual can elicit apathy, demoralization, entrenched divisions, greater labour strife, and ensuing reputational loss for the institution. That the Board of Governors appears to be ready to appoint a president who has been publicly rejected by wide sectors of the university constitutes an unprecedented crisis of governance at York. More…

Important links to the presidential search Reply

York University site on presidential search – Official documents and links

Urgent call for action: Say no to Rhonda Lenton as the next president of York University – 10 November 2016

Statements regarding the consideration of Provost Rhonda Lenton for President – 14 November 2016

Letter from Prof. Agnes Whitfield to the Presidential Search Committee – 14 November 2016

York profs slam presidential search in open letter – 18 November 2016, Excalibur

Follow-up letter from Prof Agnes Whitfield regarding the presidential search – 20 November 2016

YUFA poll results on presidential search – 22 November 2016. Detailed poll results are here.

York University urged to make search for new president more transparent – 22 November 2016, Globe and Mail

YUFA statement on the presidential search – 23 November 2016

YUGSA Statement on York’s Presidential Search – 23 November 2016

York Cross-Campus Alliance – Joint-statement about presidential search – 25 November 2016

York community members decry university corporatization – 26 November 2016, Excalibur

GHSA statement on presidential search – 29 November 2016

Open Statement to the York University Community on the Flawed Integrity of the Presidential Search Process – 14 December 2016

York Cross-Campus Alliance response to Board of Governors’ statement on York’s presidential search – 10 January 2017

York Board of Governors appears ready to appoint Rhonda Lenton as president despite overwhelming rejection from cross-campus constituencies -Statement to the York Community – 23 February 2017


Follow-up letter from Prof Agnes Whitfield regarding the presidential search Reply

The narrow corporate perspectives of the current Board of Governors, 100% dominated by big business and big finance, are precisely what have led York University to the demoralization of its full and part-time faculty, the present enrollment crisis, and general academic disarray. The present Board of Governors does not have the legitimacy to undertake, let alone control, the present Presidential Search process. More…