A student letter to the IOA about upcoming strikes

A student letter to the IOA about upcoming strikes

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Students of the Institute of the Americas started this petition to Professors, Lecturers, and Fellows of the Institute of the Americas

Dear Professors, Lecturers, and Fellows of the Institute of the Americas,


We address you as a collective group of students who share concerns about the upcoming industrial action, desire an open channel of dialogue, and want to find a mutually beneficial solution. Our aim is for our deep concerns to be understood. After all, we are here to realize various big aspirations, as you recall from our applications, and have found it impossible to remain silent while facing significant disruption to our time of studying, thinking, and researching among this admired group of scholars. There are four key common statements which we wish to share. Hopefully, our positions as your students will be taken in consideration as the Institute of the Americas and module teachers navigate this industrial action, which we know will be no season of easy collective or individual decisions. 


1.  We know there are many pressing and persistent issues which make industrial action legitimate, albeit unfortunate. Last term’s meeting and strike action was very informative and those who attended and protested with you have clarified the gravity of your situation. Those students, and many others, feel their situation must be explained too. Additionally, we appreciate that you too do not wish your work and lives to be interrupted, as this is a last resort option. 

2.  We want to communicate the seriousness of the financial commitments which we have made to study alongside you. All staff are well aware of the rising costs of the University, but we feel it bears repeating.  Many are very troubled as this, for most of us, has been the largest financial commitment thus far and are completely unsatisfied to leave university feeling we didn’t earn our degrees— we are here for much more. We are well aware of the sacrifices you have made throughout your academic careers and know you understand these points all too well. We do not want to miss module sessions as we have committed far too many resources, money just one example, to make such an event a dismissible proposition. 

3.  We find regular contact to be key to our academic growth and quality of research. One colleague said it best, “we are here for the lecturers.” Of course there are many ways to grow while at university, but few are as cherished or helpful as our module sessions. Often they are the perfect places to first test our understanding about the Americas, a region we hope to further study or change in informed ways. This is why we were incredibly dismayed to hear that out of the limited 20 weeks of class, an additional four weeks may be significantly disrupted. After having partially missed two weeks of sessions last term, this could accumulate to a whopping 30% of the overall taught master’s programme and damage the integrity of the second term all together. This news was devastating for us. We hope this does not happen. If class is cancelled, we request that any sessions one decides to cancel to be rescheduled as many module leaders generously did last term. Additionally, we are very concerned about the potential disruption to tutor and dissertation advisor meetings. Our ideas for this most important project are in their formative early stages and your input at this time is incredibly valuable to the quality of our proposals, travel grants, and research output.

4.  In the midst of this debate above our heads we feel caught in the crossfire, perplexed, and forgotten. Many of us considered great offers from other programs around the world, but eagerly selected this exact Institute for reasons we outlined in our statements of purpose.  These were read by members of this Institute, who accepted our applications. We do feel that some responsibility needs to be taken for us now. Any instinct many may have to support industrial action to improve teachers’ wellbeing is hard to maintain alongside the debilitating sense that ours is of increasingly less concern.  The doors once opened to us, now closing. UCL has much to change and most students have long been more loyal to their Institute of the Americas than to her flawed overseer, but can we see this commitment expand and go both ways?

We hope this letter provides insight into our concerns.  We want it to open up new channels of dialogue, which may help us reach a more positive outcome than otherwise without the student’s position, vulnerability, and needs heeded.  While we acknowledge your position, can you also acknowledge ours? Can we change the way things seem to be heading? We do not want to miss module sessions or meetings. We do not want to be forgotten as you collectively and individually navigate these upcoming weeks. We hope you remember us in your deliberations and are available for any further communication.

 

Sincerely, 

Students of the Institute of the Americas

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