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There was a “Rally on Wheels” held today in support of the faculty and staff at Laurentian University. It was timed to coincide with the fact that about a third of the faculty at Laurentian were due to lose their jobs at noon today under the restructuring plan that was rammed through their faculty senate a few weeks ago.

The call was for for people to either participate on zoom, or to roll around Queen’s Park Crescent by bike or car.

I joined in as one of the representatives for the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA). Here are three of us about to set out from the UTFA offices. Left to right, AW Peet (Physics), me (Engineering) and Terezia Zoric (OISE).

image source

UTFA President Terezia Zoric getting ready to speak on the zoom call in front of Hart House.

This is the recording of her speech.

Waiting to join the procession. In actual fact, the lead car took off way too fast, and so the cars were spread out around the crescent, and the bikes were in a separate bunch.

Momentary stop at Wellesley.

After several laps, the cyclists decided to call it a day and pulled off in front of the parliament buildings. I had a very civil conversation with one of the police who suggested that if we were to do this sort of event, we should do it on Monday-Thursday when at least some MPPs are present, and that if we contact CP24 in advance, they would provide media coverage.

The situation at Laurentian is very sad as it has played a key role in Northern Ontario, being the only university in the province with many programs in English, French and Indigenous studies. The University finds itself in severe financial distress due to combination of a provincial funding model that disadvantages all smaller universities in Ontario, a series of bad decisions on the part of the administration, and most seriously some financial malfeasance that both stole money from all possible sources to cover payroll, as well as concealing the true state of the books until it was entirely too late. They have cut numerous programs, seemingly strictly on the basis of enrolment. Personally I cannot imagine a university maintaining any sort of credibility without a program in either Math or Physics. Not to mention that a Laurentian faculty member won the Nobel Prize a while ago.

At any rate, an interesting and appropriate way to cap off #30daysofbiking.

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