[FASS Media Release]
Student Rally Prohibited on Campus
As the Faculty of Arts Staff Solidarity (FASS), we want to clarify events that occurred at the University of Alberta today. February 1st is the national student day of action. On campuses all across the country, students gathered to highlight tuition fees, student debt, and the crisis of the university. We are a group of reform oriented students who have worked to raise awareness about the impacts in the Faculty of Arts from funding cuts. Many of our supporters had planned to participate in a rally on the University of Alberta campus, in solidarity with students across the country.
The students, faculty, staff and alumni who wished to rally were prohibited from expressing our concerns and any individuals without current University student identification, including alumni, were barred from the campus. At no point did FASS members and other students intend to ‘occupy’ any part of the campus.
“Every day, as a political science student, I am told of the importance of standing up for what I believe in, but when I attempt to engage in a larger conversation, the university bans it before it even begins,” says Matt Dow, a Masters student in Political Science.
“Indira Samarasekera, the President of the University of Alberta, has gone on record to denounce the so-called ‘negative advocacy’ of student groups,” says Ashley Dryburgh, a PhD student in English and Film Studies. “There is nothing negative with saying that the U of A is one of the best universities in Canada and deserves to have vibrant and well-funded faculties. But if the administration is not willing to send the message to the provincial government that we are in trouble, we are going to do it ourselves.”
We are profoundly disappointed by the University’s decisions regarding today’s events. The university tells us that they “welcome debate and dialogue and encourage diversity of thought and opinion” but today they demonstrated the opposite by preventing the peaceful gathering of staff, students, faculty, and alumni. Despite the University’s reluctance to acknowledge these important issues, FASS will continue to advocate for increased funding for the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta. We look forward to the university joining this conversation.