An online petition has been created, calling on the CSU to organize a university-wide general assembly in February to “rebuild Concordia’s student movement” in order to better represent Concordia students in the fight against provincial tuition hikes.
“The Concordia Student Union remains largely absent from the scene. Here at Concordia, the CSU has not issued a single statement regarding the provincial budget or the financial crisis,” the petition reads. “There is something wrong with this picture.”
The online document also noted that francophone universities and CEGEPs have already engaged in general assemblies, strikes and other forms of action and have seen success. It also mentioned the recent protests in Britain which saw 130,000 students march against tuition hikes.
As of Monday night, 164 people had signed the petition. One of the signatories was CSU councillor Lex Gill who, despite the criticisms within the petition, said the union executive had actually expressed support for the idea of a general assembly.
“I spoke to Adrien Severyns and Heather Lucas and both of them said that they were really supportive of doing a general assembly.”
CSU president Heather Lucas, however, would only say that a general assembly is “something we’re looking into.” When asked about the criticisms, Lucas said “We appreciate that the students are mobilizing on keeping us accountable. And I expect everyone that signed that petition to be on the bus with us on Dec. 6.”
Lucas was referring to the multiple buses the CSU has organized to take Concordia students to a massive rally against tuition increases in Quebec City on that date, something Gill commended them on.
Addressing the petition, Gill said “It certainly wasn’t something coming out of malice but rather we’re gearing up for 2012. Tuition is a huge, huge issue.
“Students are very passionate and want to get more informed,” she continued. “And we were hoping, with people signing it, that this would be a great opportunity to get everyone who’s talking about these issues in one place and turn it into this big, giant information meeting.”
According to Gill, the criticisms of the CSU may be due to the university’s reputation as an activist school. “I think that a lot of people around Concordia remember a time when Concordia was the centre for this kind of activism,” she said. “The fact is, it’s a different time, it’s a different era and I think they’re really stepping up to the plate right now.”
She also noted that while last year’s executive was very preoccupied with major struggles, like their efforts to get out of the CFS, this year’s executive “is doing a great job really picking up on the spirit of the mobilization that’s happening now,” Gill said.
Ultimately, as illustrated by the volume of the petition’s signatories, students are aware that the union could be very valuable for mobilizing support, Gill said. “A union is a powerful organization to combat these things and I think the CSU is the ideal vehicle to do that.”