Postscript

Below is a message I composed in late November. Since that time, we have been through more days of concern, depression, and hope. In the end, the settlement and the processes have left me with hope.

In particular, I have found the energy, the engagement, and the hopes of a groups of students, primarily in FES, working in a process called "Naming the Moment" has be a key crucible for refining hope out of this stuggle. If people are interested in following this up, to become engaged in some initiatives with us, please contact me.

Hope and Struggle

From: "Walter Whiteley" <whiteley@mathstat.yorku.ca>

Sent: Friday, December 01, 2000 4:03 AM

From hope comes struggle.

Several of my recent conversations, in the midst of, or about, the strike have been about hope. What are the connections between hope and the strike?

It is true that York TAs and contract faculty had the best contract in the province. After decades of incremental bargaining, some basic conditions had been gained. The most recent two contracts added to these gains. After a number of years of shrinking, per capita, funding, we entered 1999 with new, fair funding grants and with a very real hope of better times and new plans. While the CUPE contract was the best, it was a delicate balance of (1) best, (2) not good enough, and (3) hope for better.

All are true to my experience.

Something shifted around last December - when it became clear that whatever 'new funding' universities would get was going to be tied to certain fields and priorities, and biased to criteria which left York on the bottom and dropping in relative terms. The university admin lost 'hope' but the students and contract faculty in CUPE did not.

People make demands and go on strike because they have hope that things can be better. Despair is not the basis of a strike. It can be the outcome - depending on the settlement and the process. [I have lived through both types of experiences, after different strikes with different employers.]

This is the real choice we face right now at York.

U of T will not face this turmoil. Not just because they are rich - but because most people there have given up hope that U of T will become better in the sense that is core to this strike!

It is possible, very possible, that a strike such as this can be the rekindling of hope within the community. Hope for overdue change. [The second strike at Trent a few years ago was the occasion for major change in their structures.] Building of a better community at many levels. The kinds of ferment which make York an interesting and important place to be - a place that attracts students and faculty!

That has more to do with how we respond to and reflect on the strike and everything surrounding it. Last night, someone paraphrased to me the reverse of where I started:

From struggle comes hope.

Walter Whiteley