OTTAWA, Sept. 10, 2014 /CNW/ - Students at the University of Ottawa were concerned to hear that the university has launched a new Institute of Professional Development in Security and Policy today at the Chateau Laurier. Members of the campus community were surprised to learn of the new institute, given that there had been no consultations with students, faculty, or even members of the University's highest governing body, the Board of Governors.
"As an elected representative of this university's highest governing body, I was shocked to learn of a new institute being launched without any consultation or discussion of how it is being funded," said Anaïs Elboudjaini, a graduate student representative on the Board of Governors.
The institute is being announced at an exclusive lunch sponsored by intelligence companies Symantec and VCE, which cost $60 to attend. American private intelligence mogul George Friedman is the keynote speaker at the event. Given intelligence sector corporate sponsorship of the launch event, questions have been raised regarding the funding and the aims of the Institute itself.
"When we allow corporate interests to infiltrate academic programs, we often see funding and support diverted from academic research in the public interest towards interests of the donor corporations," said Gabrielle Ross-Marquette, External Commissioner of the Graduate Students' Association des étudiant.e.s diplômé.e.s, "This corporatization of academia is often facilitated by corporate oversight over hiring and firing of faculty, teaching assistants and contract instructors, content of course curricula, censorship of research findings, among other means."
"The University's senior administration is frequently telling us that there is simply no money to fund things like a freeze in tuition fees for domestic and international students, or fair wages for campus workers," said Anne-Marie Roy, President of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, "Either the University is committing student dollars it claims it doesn't have without consultation with students, or they are allowing significant corporate influence on our campus without transparency as to the agreements with these private entities."
The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa and the Graduate Students' Association des étudiant.e.s diplômé.e.s are demanding that all details of the new institute's aims and finances, as well as any strategic agreements with external funders be publicly released and that this institute's activities be suspended until such a time when the University provides a full report to the Board of Governors and the Senate for approval.
SOURCE: Student Federation of the University of Ottawa
For further information:
Anne-Marie Roy, President, SFUO, (613) 218-1138
Gabrielle Ross-Marquette, GSAÉD, (613) 818-3381