Militant Students at University of Toronto Prepare for a Mass Mobilization to Stop the Eviction of the Transitional Year Programme (TYP)!

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Members of the Transitional Year Programme Preservation Alliance (TYPPA) are gearing up for a mass mobilization on February 27, 2014, the date of University of Toronto’s Govering Council meeting. The Council will meet to approve the development of “Site 10.” This decision will result in the demolition of 49 St. George Street, which houses the Transitional Year Programme, to make way for the construction of the Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepeneurship. If passed, TYP will be moved to the basement & first floor of a Woodworth College building, a much smaller space than its current space. More than half of the proposed space will also be shared with the college.

Militant students and alumni of TYP and their allies have been actively intervening in UofT’s board meetings to demand that TYP be relocated to a space that is comparable to its current home and for the program’s budget and operations to be restored to full capacity.In response, the administration has argued that the proposed smaller space allocated for TYP is based on its current operation.

“The provost keeps on insisting that the budget is separate issue from the allocation of space,” says one TYPPA member, “but we can’t be fooled, we know its related and part of the plan to slowly eliminate TYP.”

For the past few years, the administration has flatlined TYP’s budget, refused to replace retired faculty, and reduced its enrolment size. The administration has also been forcing TYP to amalgamate with Woodsworth’s Academic Bridging Program, a change that would compromise its autonomy and lose its focus on recruiting working-class, Black and Indigenous adults to its program.

“First, the university downsizes the program, then decides to move it a smaller space,” explains the TYPPA member. “And it is no accident that the space they have ‘found’ for us is in a college where they’ve always wanted it to be absorbed into,” the member added.

The Revolutionary Student Movement – UofT chapter, has been actively supporting the proletriat TYP students and alumni in their fight to preserve the program. “TYP is an initiative started by radical Black students, aimed to serve the most oppressed sectors of our society,” according to an RSM member, “it is the task of revolutionaries to protect the initiatives and advance the interests of the proletariat members of the student population.”

RSM believes that working-class, progressive students and youth must learn about the vital role that students and youth have and can play in the making of revolutionary history. It calls on all proletariat youth and students to join the February 27th mobilization in solidarity with program’s students and alumni. “It is not the university’s Governing Council, but rather the realization of our will to fight, that will ultimately determine the fate of TYP,” declares an RSM member.

Proletarianize the University! Expand the Transitional Year Programme!

Proletarianize the University! Expand the Transitional Year Programme!

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A primer written by the Revolutionary Student Movement – University of Toronto chapter

Situation of proletarian First Nations and Canadian youth

Proletarian youth make up a large fraction of the Canadian population! Living in this country means our lives are shaped by the capitalist state’s exploitation of people, plunder of the land, and of resources. Capitalism exists for profit and for expansion, both outside and inside Canada’s borders.

Today, corporations are fleeing the country to set up factories, call centres and offices where labour is cheapest. They’re importing temporary migrant workers from the “global south.” What does this mean for working-class youth? It means that we experience a high unemployment rate of 20%. That’s 1 out of 5 youth! For immigrant youth, the rate is closer to 1 out of 3!

What prospects are left to us? Jobs that are, on whole, non-permanent and casual. These kinds of jobs increases underemployment and subjects youth to precarious work. Nowadays, immigrant youth are competing with, and/or working side-by-side with their parents as well as other temporary migrant workers.

The education system in Canada is embroiled with contradictions. Out of 10 youth, only 4 continue to post-secondary education. This rate is even lower amongst First Nations, Black, Latino and Filipino youth. Those who make it to post-secondary education are plunging themselves deeper into debt as tuition fees and student loans continue to rise at a rate faster than inflation. We work hard to stay in school and graduate with a degree, only to join the ranks of unemployed and underemployed.

While youth in Canada and all over the world have mobilized against worsening poverty, military occupation, and imperialist wars, politicians are putting more money into building super-jails and funding psychiatric mega-complexes. The ruling class deals with our “unruliness” by throwing us in jails and into the psychiatric system; this is especially the case with First Nations, Black, Latino and Southeast Asian youth, who are overrepresented in the prison system.

It is in this context that the Transitional Year Programme (TYP) exists. TYP is full-time, 8-month, access to University program for adults who do not have formal qualifications for university. The majority of TYP students are First Nations, Black, single mothers, and other working-class people. A number of TYP students are also survivors of the criminal justice and psychiatric systems.

Post-secondary education has become the minimum requirement for a many sectors of industry in the country. While post-secondary graduates face increasing rates of un/underemployment, not having access to a degree puts proletarian youth at an especial disadvantage – resulting in fewer career options and channels them to lower-paid, more precarious jobs.

It is in this context that the University of Toronto administration is threating to eliminate TYP!

The People’s History of the Transitional Year Programme (TYP)

Influenced by the militant student movement of the 60s and early 70s , the founders of TYP were students themselves. They saw the need to create a specific program that will prepare working-class, Black students to access post-secondary education, while at the same time, transforming the university to become a site of revolutionary struggle.

Timeline:

1968: The Black Education Project (BEP) opened a the Universal Negro Improvement Association building at 355 College St.; That summer, BEP prepared Black students for admission to York University and the University of Toronto

1970: the summer program was relocated to Innis College at the University of Toronto and included other communities – Native, working-class youth and women; after many negotiations with the University, a full-time TYP was opened

1970 – 1976: TYP operates as an “equal opportunity” program at UofT, a traditional and elitist institution; the program was constrained by inadequate funding and constant scrutiny; institutional support was tenuous

1976: The Crowe Report was published, citing “racial tensions, administrative problems and Marxist content in the curriculum as endangering the program;” the report criticized the program’s community participation

1976-1977: University administration temporarily suspended TYP resulting to denial of access to 50 students; Father John Kelly of St. Michael’s College was selected by the university to carry out another review of the program

1977: TYP was resumed after restructuring, administration now reports directly to the Provost –new changes sacrificed early community involvement

1982: TYP moves into its current home, 49 St. George Street

2009: UofT administration threatens to dismantle TYP; the mobilization of the Transitional Year Program Preservation Alliance (TYPPA), an alliance of TYP students, alumni and non-TYP students postponed the elimination

2011: The university launches a $2-billion fundraising campaign: Boundless, which includes “Access and Opportunity” as one of its priorities

2012: UofT Vice-provost gives TYP two options: amalgamate with Woodsworth Academic Bridging Program and lose autonomy, or face complete elimination

Summer of 2013: UofT administration threatens to seize 49 St. George to make space for the construction of the Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship; plans relocate TYP to Woodsworth College; Provost instructs TYP administration to suspend hiring of sessional faculty

Fall of 2013: TYPPA launches “Expand the TYP” campaign; current TYP students conduct survey amongst peers and identify three main demands:

1) to stay in 49 St. George or be relocated to a space that serves their needs

2) guaranteed autonomy

3) boundless expansion

Revolutionary perspectives on the TYP and the university

For the Revolutionary Student Movement, the establishment and existence of the Transitional Year Programme was an overt political effort to proletarianize education in a myriad of ways: in increasing the admission of proletarian students in campus, providing accessible and tangible support for its students, and in designing and delivering a progressive curriculum.

TYP students have the option of taking courses from different streams – majority of them intended to relate to the students’ experiences of oppression and encourage critical thought. Because of TYP’s autonomy over curriculum development and implementation, many courses study significant anti-colonial, anti-capitalist literature. While supporting students to successfully complete post-secondary education, TYP itself provides a temporary refuge from the brutal material conditions that its students struggle with on the day-to-day.

For the Revolutionary Student Movement, the pending elimination of the TYP is a testament to the active role played by the university in the capitalist and imperialist system! The dismantlement of TYP means that the university will continue to bar more working-class youth from entering its gates, and that it has and will continue to be bought out by its corporate donors. While threating the program’s dismantlement, it even had administered tuition schemes to either discourage poor students from applying or bury them into further debt!

Despite heavy student opposition, the university is moving forward with replacing the back campus with toxic astroturf in preparation for the PanAm games in 2015.  At the same time, it has chosen to fund the parasitical expansion of the Munk School of Global Affairs, Rotman School of Management, and the Engineering department . It’s becoming more obvious that this institution aims to be the centre of knowledge production that supports & justifies military occupation, extractive industries, and imperialist expansion.

Despite heavy opposition, UofT is replacing the Back Campus Field with toxic astroturf. The administration has similar plans for TYP's current home, 49 St. George St. - demolish it to make way for the construction of the Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

We are not fooled by the Boundless campaign’s promises for the community: its aim of “exploring of the University and its community for global leadership” means nothing but dedicating the university to reproduce the next generation of the global bourgeoisie, as well as its defenders, functionaries and sentinels of the existing class society!

For years, the university’s top administration at least went as far as to tokenize the TYP, referring to it as the “jewel in the crown of the university.” Now they deem TYP too costly, and have slowly reduced its budget so much that it compromised the success of its students. When asked why the TYP has not seen any money raised from the Boundless campaign, we were told that TYP should hire its own “fundraising agent!”

What seems to be hypocrisy from the university is no surprise to us, proletarian and racialized students. We know the that TYP doesn’t fit into the university’s renewed commitment to serve the interests of the bourgeoisie!

What needs to be done

A closer look at the history of TYP reveals its revolutionary roots. It was an initiative that was started by proletarian students who recognized the colonial and capitalist ideology propagated in the university, which at the same time, barred racialized and poor students from accessing resources that would allow them to engage and produce critical thought & pedagogy.

For us then, there is no better time than now to preserve and ultimately, expand the Transitional Year Programme! It must be once again led by its founders, the students, serve as an access program to proletarian students, and be at the forefront of the production of revolutionary thought and practice.

In the words of one of its founders, Horace Campbell, “the success of the TYP should result in the removal of the need for TYP when the school system and university at the base of the struggle for democracy.”

The particular campaign for the expansion of the TYP is in line with RSM’s larger struggle to proletarianize the university. The role of the Revolutionary Students Movement is to take education back into the hands of the proletariat, by demanding:

  1. University of Toronto to increase the admittance rates of proletarian youth via programs like the TYP, free of charge and with full state subsidy..
  2. University of Toronto to respond the democratic process through abolishing the Governing Council, an undemocratic body, and replacing it with a democratically elected body, representative of the students, staff and faculty, for decision-making.
  3. University of Toronto to revolutionize its educational content, so as to expose: first, the role of Canadian imperialism and capitalism in the genocide and oppression of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples, as well as proletarians of the third world; and second, the way by which oppressed people have gained liberation through struggle.

Ultimately, these demands cannot be achieved under capitalism. Thus, these demands serve as a preliminary programme for educational reform after the capture of state power and during the transition to communism. The capitalist system cannot satisfy the needs addressed by these points, which reflect the advanced aspirations of proletarian students, and that conflict must ultimately come to a head.

In order to win this struggle, we urge all proletarian, progressive and revolutionary students to join our fight in the expansion of the Transitional Year Programme, and waging a campaign to further proletarianize the campus. We want to lead the transformation of university into a site of revolutionary class struggle!

Join RSM for a Demo to Preserve the Transitional Year Programme (TYP)

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Transition to Expansion: U of T, Hands off the TYP
Town Hall Meeting with Cheryl Regehr
Monday November 18th
12 pm
Galbraith Building, room 248
35 St. George Street

The Transitional Year Programme Preservation Alliance, which the RSM has been participating in, has been meeting in recent months to discuss our concerns around proposed changes to the Transitional Year Programme (TYP), including the University recommendation of amalgamation of the TYP with the Woodsworth Bridging Program, and the reallocation of the TYP from 49 St. George Street to 123 St. George Street. Students have brought forward issues and concerns regarding the above proposals over the past year, in addition to concerns over cuts to TYP faculty, staff, and programme, i.e. concerns regarding the lack of financial resources.

Students and Alumni of the Programme, as well as University of Toronto community members, have serious concerns about the relocation of the TYP from 49 St. George Street to 123 St. George Street. After conducting a survey of current TYP students, results show the proposed building for the programme’s relocation is not adequate for the needs of the current students. First, there is a very obvious concern regarding the physical accessibility of the proposed building and its impact on inclusiveness with regard to future/incoming TYP students. Secondly, students in the TYP also expressed the need to maintain adequate space for faculty offices, a child friendly environment and a kitchen, which is currently provided at 49 St. George Street. Furthermore, as the programme has deep roots in the wider community, a decent space for student study groups and meetings will be necessary.

The Boundless Campaign is supposed to include access and equity. The University of Toronto loves to parade around the TYP until it comes to preserving the program, let alone expanding it. Shame on the University! As part of the Boundless campaign, they plan to move the Transitional Year Programme from its current location at 49 St. George Street in order to build the Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Who is this campaign boundless for? We want boundless expansion, and we want the university to explain why the TYP must sacrifice their space for the University’s boundless, capitalist program? The program’s budget has been frozen this year, and has faced cuts in recent years to staff and its resources.

Join us at this town hall on Monday, November 18th to strategize about how to fight for the TYP and its space. There will be a demo afterward.

Boundless for Whom? The Working-Class Students within the Academic-Industrial Complex

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September 26, Thursday
12-2PM
Hart House Music Room, 7 Hart House Circle

The University of Toronto’s Boundless Campaign describes boundless possibilities and potentials for its students, but for a large segment of the student population, the reality is a different story. Working-class students, mostly racialized, face countless barriers to enroll, stay and graduate from post-secondary education. While millions are spent on programs to increase the university’s global competitiveness, Transitional Year Programme (TYP), a program that allows working-class students to access an undergraduate degree, is in constant threat of elimination. More and more, the university is making a statement: the Boundless Campaign is NOT for the unaccounted Black, Indigenous, queer & trans, single mothers, disabled and poor students that TYP could be further serving.

Join us for a panel and discussion as the Transitional Year Programme Preservation and the Revolutionary Students Movement Coalition (TYP-RSM coalition) share their perspectives on the intensified corporatization of the university and their work in the “Expand the TYP!” campaign. All marginalized, working-class and progressive youth and students are encouraged to attend!

Childcare will be provided! TTC tokens available! And join us for a small picnic afterwards!

Speakers:
Kerri Kimoto is a member of the Revolutionary Students Movement.

Carla Rodney is a member of the Transitional Year Programme Preservation Alliance.

http://typrsmcoalitio1.wix.com/typrsmcoalition

This event is part of Disorientation Week 2013. See the week’s full list of events at: http://disorientation2013.com/