CLASS supports SAIA, not CUSA!

On February 17th, members of Carleton Labour and Student Solidarity (CLASS) demonstrated our support for the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) to endorse Students Against Israeli  Apartheid (SAIA) – Carleton’s divestment campaign.

Members of CLASS were present alongside many other activists and demonstrators affiliated with a diverse group of student and community organizations and labour unions. As a campus-based organization that originated from labour struggles and solidarity at Carleton, CLASS supports Carleton’s divestment from labour exploitation, war profiteering, environmental degradation and financing the illegal occupation of Palestine.

SAIA forwarded a motion for CUSA to endorse a divestment from Israeli apartheid. This motion would call for Carleton University to withdraw investment in Northrup Grumman, BAE Systems, Motorola and Tesco Supermarkets from Carleton’s pension fund. All four companies are directly involved with violating the human rights of Palestinian people.

This motion followed the orchestrated derailment by CUSA executive members who proposed a “Socially Responsible Investment” policy. CUSA’s executive director, President, Vice Presidents (Finance and Student Issues) and Council Chair had developed a strategy to appease pro-apartheid organizers with strong connections to media sources while silencing Palestinian students and their allies. The SRI policy was approved. Subsequently, the CUSA Council Chair dismissed the SAIA motion citing CUSA’s newly formed SRI would override direct references to occupied Palestine and naming the four companies involved with apartheid.

Demonstrators amalgamated in the halls of the 20th floor of Dunton Tower outside of the council meeting. The Carleton University Director of Student Affairs had been present with deputized security forces to prevent a majority of SAIA supporters from entering the meeting. The demonstration remained peaceful as they chanted and shouted support for the SAIA members who were permitted to enter the meeting space. News from within the meeting space was released by SAIA members to the supporters outside of the room, which would change the tones, chants, and actions of the demonstrators.

CLASS had followed a strong line of respecting the direction SAIA wanted its members and supporters to follow. This direction included making demands from CUSA representatives, criticizing representatives’ poor decisions, and calling our vocal support for the survivors of Israeli’s apartheid policies. Following the meeting’s adjournment, SAIA supporters celebrated our victories and debriefed in the Unicentre Atrium.

Within this direction, SAIA and supporters were not acting to intimidate councillors, nor had we conducted any violence at the February 17th meeting. The only commentators of safety and violence had been CUSA executives and executive director who had attempted to shape the tone of the meeting with falsified threats of violence. On that day, no CUSA member can make a factual claim that they faced a similar fear or violence to what occurs systemically through Israeli state terrorism inflicted upon the people living in the Occupied Territories. If violence and intimidation were part of CLASS’ direction or agenda, our numbers would have ensured such things to happen.

CLASS and SAIA supporters demonstrated our support for the SAIA member’s democratic participation within the CUSA council meeting, and displayed our discontent when it had been silenced. We had also held democratic participation with chants of “let them vote” throughout the halls outside of the meeting. We vocalized our demands for councillors to vote on SAIA’s motion and obstructed CUSA’s actions that prevented the dialogue to continue on divesting from Israeli apartheid.

Again, anti-apartheid activists on our campus had been silenced, along with the people of Palestine and their family members and allies within the Carleton community.

CLASS is content with what we have learned from the February 17th CUSA council meeting. First, we know who our allies are and who we will continue to be united in solidarity with. These are the members of our campus that are active in struggles against the intersections of apartheid, oppression and labour exploitation. We will continue to march with them onto the Carleton University Board of Governors when it is called upon.

Secondly, we know we can no longer hold faith in a students’ association that prioritizes their privileges and complacency with apartheid, oppression and labour exploitation over campaigning alongside fellow students and workers on their campus. This is a constant practice by CUSA and can no longer be tolerated after a long series of incidents and statements that have not been publicly criticized. These problems are structural in a student organization that depoliticizes itself when radical actions and politics are called upon, and that executes an election campaign based on popularity as soon as its members get into office.

CLASS can and will no longer work within this defeated institution. Instead we will need to begin seeking other avenues in which to use student power to fight against an administration and city that oppresses us. Finally, we understand that in order to create a movement to replace the defunct students’ association with grassroots student unionism, we must continue to build our capacity and work to defeat the challenges ahead of us. CLASS is dedicated on growing in numbers and developing leadership amongst the thousands of students on  Carleton campus.

CLASS has signed on to SAIA’s call for a Socially Responsible Investment Policy that specifically addresses the divestment from Israeli Apartheid and the companies involved in these practices. We highlight the labour exploitation and militarization that these companies participate in that directly affects workers of Palestine. We understand that as we fight labour exploitation and unfair and unsafe work practices within our own community at Carleton, we unite in solidarity with workers of the world who call on use for international support. CLASS will fight against the colonialist and capitalist systems of apartheid Israel and will work on deconstructing the state that produces these injustices.

We reiterate our disgust with the current members of CUSA who had silenced the voices of the Palestinian people and their allies as we demanded their support in the struggle against Israeli Apartheid. We unite in solidarity with SAIA and their supporters as we confront those who profit and defend the exploitation of Palestinian workers.

We will continue with fellow students to build  a campus that is based on the goals to abolish injustice, exploitation and apartheid. As leadership is not defined by elections, we abandon all support or recognition that the current state of CUSA is not a tool for meeting these goals.

Sincerely
A Student and Worker

SAIA Carleton’s video of the February 17th rally on Youtube


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Myth #8

What an amazing series of events taking place in our world right now. I was excited to see French strikes a few months back. British student protests had me wanting to do back flips. Egypt though, oh Egypt. I could just smile forever at the way our world is going. People from all walks of life coming together, working together, and standing together to create a world worth living in. This is solidarity my friends.

I recently came across this blog post 10 myths busted by the Egyptian revolution. It was so inspiring reading them. #6 left me smiling with the statement, “Egyptians self-organized to provide medicine, security, food, childcare, sanitation, literacy, and communication—without bosses, the police, the courts, or parliament—offering a glimpse of what a better world could look like.”

What really struck a chord was #8: WORKERS ARE NOT CENTRAL TO REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENTS. This was a myth worth busting. Revolutionary movements shouldn’t count without workers.

As a student, I’m preparing myself to be a worker. A worker in a specific market, but a worker. How I will be treated in my place of work is in my hands today. By working in solidarity with other workers, ensuring that they have fair conditions, the standard can be raised to what is an acceptable treatment. I refuse to accept anything less than fair for anyone.

As a worker, I experience the current standards. I know what I want changed. Other workers know what they want changed. When we communicate and work together, these changes can be implemented. Through revolution or just reform, workers help positive changes happen.

Sincerely
A Student and Worker

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General Meeting

Hey everyone,

Just thought I’d make this event official with a Facebook Event (hint: that’s a link to the facebook event). For those of you who don’t know already, CLASS will be holding the first general meeting of the semester on Wednesday, February 9th at 6:30 PM at Becamps 314UC (By Travelcuts).

Again, anyone interested in getting involved is more than welcome to. Stop by any and all meetings of interest. If you can’t make it out, send me an email at Carleton.Class@Gmail.com.

Sincerely
A Student and Worker

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Delayed Reactions

It’s official. We are back in action post break. As I’m sure you know via first hand experience, back to school has a habit of sucking up all our free time. Thankfully we’re finally getting back into our post break routines and can dedicate the time and energy that CLASS deserves. This includes finally updating our blog. Yippee!

This also includes holding another general meeting. We’ve received lots of requests for actions but how much fun is it to be a solidarity group doing things solo? Come on out and share your brilliant minds at 6:30pm on Wednesday, February 9th at Becamps 314UC (By Travelcuts). We’ll also be discussing what times work best for all of you. New semester means a brand new set of class schedules and we want to make sure you can do it all.

What else has been happening? Well we were invited to speak to a Human Right’s class about labour activism. This was nearly a month ago by now so I can’t recall the details but I do recall some great questions being asked. Why not start that here? Are you curious about anything we’re up to? Wondering if there might be a CLASS elsewhere? Anything else? Ask away. If we have an answer, we’ll share it. If we don’t, we’ll try and find it. If we can’t? Ha, there’s nothing we can’t do if we put our minds to it.

And last and quite possibly least, we’re now on LinkedIn. CUSA kept on inviting us to connect with them so I caved. No idea if this will be something that lasts or not. It might just become the greatest thing to happen to CLASS. The opportunities to connect with other groups and work in solidarity is a promising thought. You’re welcome to connect with CLASS here.

As always, anyone interested in getting involved is more than welcome to. Stop by any and all meetings of interest. If you can’t make it out, send me an email at Carleton.CLASS@gmail.com.

Sincerely
A Student and Worker

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Good News? and Meeting Times!

It’s official! Strikes have been averted. Yesterday, both units of CUPE 4600 came to tentative agreements. We’re hoping this is good news for the TAs and contract instructors. The details of the agreements won’t be released until members have the opportunity to vote. Fingers crossed for the best results.

Also, three of the working groups will be meeting this week. Admin Accountability will take Becamps 314UC (By Travelcuts) on Tuesday, November 23rd from 6-8pm (followed by our routine Karaoke at mike’s Place). Labour Solidarity will take on Sunday, November 28th from 3-5, also in Becamps. Student Space was rescheduled to Friday, November 26th from 3-5 in Becamps.

Anyone interested in getting involved is more than welcome to. Stop by any and all meetings of interest. If you can’t make it out, send me an email at Carleton.CLASS@gmail.com.

Sincerely
A Student and Worker

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The Working Groups

Great turnout to the general meeting on Tuesday. It was great seeing all your wonderful faces, old and new. If you weren’t able to make it, don’t worry. You can still get involved.

James Meades shared his experiences trying to bargain with admin. As I’m sure you’re well aware of, CUPE 2424, CUPE 4600 and CUASA have been trying to get admin to get to the table and bargain with little success. If you weren’t already aware, there are potential strikes in the very near future. Feel free to blame this on admin.

Then Sam Heaton spoke on behalf of CUSA and GSA regarding their issues with admin. This includes both struggles for academic amnesty and fees being held illegally (See Free the Fees post for more info).

We all broke into 4 groups where we discussed and brainstormed what changes needed to happen on Carleton’s Campus. The results five working groups. Next week, each of the working groups will be meeting to discuss campaigns and start working towards changing this campus.

Are you sick and tired of admin constantly creeping onto our space? What happened to the Atrium being ours? Why doesn’t G-spot have a kitchen on campus yet? If you want to see this, or anything else, related to student space changed, click the paragraph heading. It will take you to a poll to select when the student space working group will have their next meeting.

Aren’t you curious who it is that’s handling our campus experience. Shouldn’t it be us? Why aren’t we selecting which companies have tables at job fairs. Why don’t we get a reading week in the fall? Let’s get in charge of our own lives. Click the paragraph heading to go to the poll to select when the administration accountability working group will have their next meeting.

We’re here to learn, but we’re missing out on all the important information. What services are available to us? Can international students get involved on campus? They sure can. Is the Carleton clothing line fair trade? Hmm…I really don’t know. Let’s inform ourselves and inform others. Click the paragraph heading. You’ve probably figured out that it takes you to a poll to select when the education/awareness working group will have their next meeting.

There are so many workers on campus from food services to teaching staff to general support staff. It’s pretty obvious that they haven’t been treated fairly. We all share a campus. I refuse to consider my experience on campus a good one until they have the ability to say the same. Click the paragraph heading to go to the poll to select when the labour solidarity working group will have their next meeting.

This is the logistical stuff. How do the groups communicate with each other? Who updates the blog? Who receives email addressed to CLASS? Maybe it’s you. Click the paragraph heading to visit the poll to select when the communications working group will have their next meeting. Or you can just send me an email at Carleton.CLASS@gmail.com.

Sincerely
A Student and Worker

p.s.-If you have any trouble with the polls, email me at Carleton.CLASS@Gmail.com and I’ll help you out. Also please be sure to type in your email so that I can let you know when the meeting will take place.

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Free the Fees and Other Important Campaigns

The potential strike is a serious matter. Nobody is denying this but let’s not forget that the administration is continuing to hold onto GSA and CUSA fees. What does this mean to students on campus? Well it means that student run organizations will have to stop spending money entirely and possibly need to cut back the hours of the student workers who keep the Centres on campus running!

If you aren’t up to date on the situation related to fees being held, head to the general meeting being held in Becamps tomorrow (Tuesday, Nov. 16th) at 7pm where a representative from GSA/CUSA will explain everything in greater detail. We’ve also attached a forward received from the Executive Director of the Graduate Students Association (GSA) Phil Robertson, GSA.
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STRIKE URGENT ATTENTION!!!
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I am writing because we’re in desperate need of help from Carleton students and alumni. The administration at Carleton is withholding the student fees it has collected and holds in trust for CUSA and the GSA. We have launched a court action, but in the meantime both associations are looking at cutting services and possibly staff as well as potentially having to close Oliver’s and Mike’s Place. Both the GSA and CUSA have existing agreements in place, but the Board of Governors voted to withhold the fees unless we sign new agreements that give the university more authority over the students’ associations. We are quite frankly fighting for the very existence of independent students’ associations at Carleton University.

Please consider taking five minutes to send an email to Carleton’s senior administration – all the addresses and a draft template (it is helpful if you can customize it) can be found at www.gsacarleton.ca/index.php?section_id=298. More information can be found at www.gsacarleton.ca. You can also join the Facebook groups Free the Fees Carleton U and Free the Fees! CU at the Board of Governors meeting.
Thank-you!!!!
Phil

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Sincerely
A student and worker

p.s.-See you at the general meeting tomorrow!

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