Letter: Department of Education’s planned move to the Faubourg

To: Alan Shepard, President and Vice-Chancellor

Roger Côté, Vice President Services

Andrew Woodall, Dean of Students

cc: Richard Schmid, Chair of the Department of Education

Faculty members in the Department of Education

Students in the Department of Education

Graduate Students Association

We are writing to raise our concerns regarding the Department of Education’s planned move from the Library Building to the Faubourg Building in Spring 2015. After careful consultations with a number of graduate and undergraduate students, we wish to inform you of our serious reservations regarding this proposed move. Even though we support that the library needs to be expanded to provide resources to students, this does not mean that the Department of Education needs to be undervalued. Considering that the Department of Education’s move to the Library Building in 1992 was temporary, and the library expansion project has been planned for years, we do not understand how in twenty-two years the university has not developed a better plan for the relocation of our department. As it is now we are rushed to move to the Faubourg Building’s fifth and sixth floors where the infrastructure is inappropriate for academic activities due to low ceilings that are impeding the design of good learning spaces. In addition, the building is a mall, with rats, drug dealers and a Dollarama.

It seems that Concordia University is following a trend that devalues Departments of Education by placing them in undesirable locations (The Trouble with Ed Schools, Labaree, 2004). Ironically, the University, as an institutional symbol of Education, is according less importance to education as a discipline. When a university is supposed to give students hope, instead our university has given us a dark feeling of the future for educational progress. Adding to the bitterness of this situation is the undemocratic process with which the department’s plan to relocate has been carried out. Furthermore, in this dodgy process, students have been completely excluded.

There is a consensus among the Department of Education graduate and undergraduate students that the planned move of our department has been very poorly communicated to us. We have surveyed our members and there is tangible evidence of this fact. One hundred and forty-two undergraduate and graduate students responded to our survey, conducted in Spring 2014. 87% responded that they have not been properly informed about the move, and 47% said they did not know that the department is moving. The survey also showed that those students who knew about the move were informed either by professors (24%) or students (25%), and not by the department or any public information. Importantly 72% of respondents are against moving the department to the Faubourg.

As we express our indignation about the move, we want to bring to your attention that student voices were not considered at all in this process. Somehow we need to remind you of the importance of students in a university. Therefore, we now demand to be involved in further decision making processes.

In the following pages we outline our position and demands.

Our Position

DOEIGSA General assembly position voted on April 24th 2014:

“Be it resolved that DOEIGSA mobilizes against the department’s move to the Faubourg and demands that the university find a more suitable location.”

The position of the Department of Education Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Association (DOEIGSA) is that the Faubourg building is an inappropriate choice for our department for the following reasons:

  • As the undergraduate classes are normally held in the Hall building there is a growing concern that the move to Faubourg will isolate our department from the mainstream of university life.
  • The Faubourg space is limited in scope for any growth to accommodate more students and therefore limits the Department of Education’s capacity to expand.
  • Due to the low ceilings, the floors designated for the Department of Education are not conducive to an academic environment.
  • The proposed space will have more of a shopping mall-type atmosphere.
  • The safety at night of the location, much is going on, such as drug dealing

Our Student and Community Learning Spaces

We care about our educational environment. Currently there are 388 graduate students and close to 1000 undergraduate students studying in the Department of Education at Concordia. We are committed to our studies, and we also care about building a community of learners that feel at home and welcome in the department to pursue all types of projects and activities.

Effective student spaces are vital for conducting our work and studies. Students are busy and involved with a variety of things outside attending classes: research projects, committees, student associations, organizing conferences, reading, studying, research assistantships and teaching assistantships, just to name a few. Therefore, we want to play an active role in this proposed move.

Our Demands:

  • To have an equal voice in the decision making process regarding the Department’s move to the Faubourg building.
  • To have a well-advertised meeting organized by the administration inviting all education students to discuss the move, answer lingering questions and be open to our suggestions. We strongly suggest that this meeting be held before the end of the Fall semester.
  • To conduct a needs assessment survey of what students want in their new department.
  • To have a tour of the new space and allow student representatives to take pictures to communicate to other students what is happening.
  • For the new department space to have a clearly-defined common student area for study, socializing and collaboration.

Sincerely,

Department of Education Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Association (DOEIGSA)

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