The Open Letter, and What Comes Next

To: Dave Tolchinsky, Chair of the RTVF Department
From: Mike Cavalier, Director of the Campaign
December 5, 2016

Hi Dave, at this point, I’m writing in an “official” capacity as the director of alumni mobilization & activism in support of RTVF students.

I’ve published an open letter to explain the situation on our end, which you can read here.

As I wrote in the letter, emotions are running high for us, and we thought it best to approach this systematically as a group, rather than as a directionless explosion of alumni outrage.

We are mounting an alumni campaign as a show of force to demonstrate how seriously we are taking this and how important this is to us.

Our goal is very clear: we want serious, mutually agreed-upon reforms in the department’s funding structure by FY18, and we want an open process for arriving at those reforms.

You have communicated to me that the department is open to improvements in the system, and we take you at your word. But we reject the idea that a fair, open, transparent, and robust process led to the elimination of the grants and the introduction of the MAGs. Considering the magnitude of these changes, and their obvious deleterious effects, the department needed more than the input of a few students on the DAC. It should first have been forthright about the reasons behind the changes, then made a public proposal for the community to openly debate, and then taken seriously any reasonable alternatives that students put forth. I know that such alternatives could have been devised and proposed by the students because serious proposals were made in 2015, and yet I am told they received no response from the faculty whatsoever.

I will write again at the start of winter quarter 2017 with more details. Till then, I want you to know that the students and alumni are willing and eager to arrive at a win-win agreement that benefits all of us, but it really depends on whether the department is sincere in wanting to accept criticism and adopt reasonable requests by students and former students.