The Department of Italian Studies calls on the Ontario Government to take immediate action to reinstate programs, staff, and faculty cut from Laurentian University and to implement a more consultative process for determining the University’s future. It is unjust and destructive to force local students, employees, and communities to pay the cost of a financial crisis caused by the provincial tuition freeze and mismanagement by Laurentian’s senior administration. Laurentian’s faculty and students have been leaders in building multi-lingual learning communities that represent the cultural diversity of the region. Among these was Italian Studies, taught at Laurentian from its founding, with strong roots reaching deep into the local community. We have been proud collaborators with our alumni and colleagues Diana Iuele-Colilli, Paul Colilli (d. 2018), and Christine Sansalone who have been the heart and soul of Italian Studies within the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Laurentian. They developed this program with imagination, energy, and deep commitment to their students and to the Italian Canadian community in Northern Ontario.
The tragedy being played out at Laurentian now has been widely condemned, and we encourage others to join in the protests launched by the Laurentian Faculty Association (LUAF), the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), and the American Association of Teachers of Italian (AATI).
A university’s strength is its people, and we call on the Ontario provincial government to collaborate with Laurentian’s faculty, students, staff, and alumni in order to arrive at a solution which respects their commitment and builds this university’s future together with them.