With startup funding from the Graduate Students Association at the University of Ottawa, a group of students and faculty have launched www.uwatch.ca - an organization and web site dedicated to the vision that universities ought to be transparent institutions serving in the public interest.
The site provides links, information, discussion forums, campaign tools, and searchable data for groups and individuals that share those goals, including student and labour activists, student governments, campus groups and civil society organizations.
Although uwatch is a self-directed advocacy group, it will work in close conjunction with strong advocates for public post-secondary education such as CAUT, the Canadian Federation of Students, and the many student associations and labour groups that are defending the public stewardship of Canada's universities.
Initial uwatch initiatives have focussed on two main areas - bringing universities under freedom of information legislation and building opposition to campus exclusivity deals. In the latter, uwatch worked with the Polaris Institute against exclusivity marketers on campus, and is active in the movement that has terminated the controversial "cash for access" cola contracts on more than 60 campuses across North America. The campaign has now been widened to support associations that are refusing the "tainted cash" offered to university administrations and campus groups by the beverage industry.
According to the site, uwatch also seeks to support and defend those who speak out against the new corporate universities.