On November 3 YUGSA held a meeting with Lisa Philipps (Interim Vice-President Academic & Provost), Mario Verrilli (Executive Officer of FGS), Joy Kirchner (Dean of Libraries), and Lucy Fromowitz (Vice-Provost Students), to discuss the printing credit cut. We had 30 YUGSA members from different graduate programs attending the meeting with us.
At the meeting, YUGSA refuted the administration’s claim that there was a past agreement between YUGSA, FGS and York Libraries to phase out the $300 printing allocation. As a reminder, 4 years ago the YUGSA executive fought back against a unilateral decision by the York administration to cut the graduate printing allocation from $300 to $75 per student (along with a three-year phase-out of the fund altogether). We have always called for the full and permanent restoration of the printing credit. Lisa Philipps responded by saying she has a “different interpretation of history”.
YUGSA also told the administration that they do not have legitimate reasons for cutting the printing credit, nor have they properly consulted the graduate student membership to get their feedback about budget priorities. YUGSA reminded the administration that they are not working with us to find alternatives to printing and they have not fulfilled their promise to accommodate students with a disability, who are now forced to get permission from CDS and go to the Victor Phillip Dahdaleh Building (previously TEL) for limited printing (FGS told us in the summer that they have promised unlimited printing).
In the past, FGS has said that the printing credit cut is in the interest of sustainability. We reiterated our argument that there are much more environmentally destructive practices that York University is involved in which they need to take immediate action on. A clear example of this is divestment of York university’s endowment and pension funds from fossil fuel companies. In the past year we have witnessed the university administration’s resistance to a broad community divestment campaign culminating in the unilateral and top-down suspension of the committee in charge of reviewing the divestment proposals from York community members.
Furthermore, YUGSA identified areas in York’s budget where money could be reallocated to printing: York University had $23 million dollar surplus in 2016 and currently $30.7 million is allocated for York Libraries for 2017-18, with incremental increases planned for next 3 years (as shown in York’s multi-year budget). The Interim Vice-President Academic & Provost could also use money from her slush fund of $3 million dollars. In order to restore our printing credit, the university would need to spend $600,000-$900,000, which is a small fraction of York’s overall budget of $1 billion dollars. In our meeting, Joy Kirchner mentioned that the money previously allocated for the printing credit is going toward “capital projects”, such as new furniture and journals for York Libraries, but she did not have any proof that they consulted students on this and they failed to provide a list of costs for the libraries. When graduate students pointed out that we’ve gathered over 1300 petition signatures in support of restoring the printing credit, and this is clearly a priority need for students, the administration refused to commit to restoring the credit. YUGSA firmly believes that the printing credit should be reinstated in full and views the cut as a concessionary move by York and an attack on our funding entitlement.
Graduate students present talked about the need for printing for graduate students. We recognize that the majority of graduate students are low-income and we do not want the university to only be a place for the rich. We are working on renewing our campaign with other unions to call for an end to the cuts to our basic services, and cuts to job positions (e.g. the cut to over 600 Graduate Assistant positions), which are negatively affecting the quality of graduate student life at York. But we can’t do this without your participation in the fight!
Join the YUGSA Campaigns committee to take action on this campaign. Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, November 14 at 12:00 pm in 430 Student Centre. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP and get involved now!
The YUGSA Executives