Defying expectations and ignoring rainy weather, 897 students packed into the Reggie’s terrace yesterday morning for a special general meeting, surpassing the 2.5 per cent of undergraduate students required for quorum, and making the two motions they passed legally binding.
An overwhelming majority of students raised their blue slips voting in favour of both motions, the first calling for a Day of Action to denounce the Ministry of Education’s proposed tuition fee hikes and the second reducing quorum for future special general meetings to 1.5 per cent of undergrads.
“I just want to say that today has been a very historical moment for Concordia,” CSU president Heather Lucas told the crowd after the vote. “You all have taken part in an amazing democratic process. Having you all here, I don’t have words. The sight of having everyone’s placards lifted up, that was fucking amazing.”
There were doubts leading into the event that quorum would be reached, but students erupted in cheers at the news that the 850th student had signed into the event, far surpassing the 795 needed according to CSU councillor Lex Gill.
Matthew Brett, communications coordinator for the WHALE event, called the attendance “remarkable, given the rain and given that the odds were stacked against us from the beginning.”
Brett thought that the success of the event sent a clear message to both the University’s Board of Governors and the provincial government. “The Board in particular, I think they’re really going to start to shake in their dress pants,” he said. “Let’s just say that this event at least will keep them alert that if they continue to neglect the student voice we will continue to come to your doorstep.”
The Day of Action immediately followed the special general meeting so after some closing words and thanks from organizers and Lucas, a large group of attendees left the terrace to march through the downtown campus area.
The Graduate Students’ Association also managed to reach a substantially smaller quorum at their own meeting held inside shortly before the undergraduates’ meeting. All motions at that meeting were passed by attendees as well.
Much of the talk following the meeting was of Concordia students proving the allegations of apathy false.
“I think that Concordia students shook off the apathy label today,” said GSA councillor Roddy Doucet.
Brett agreed. “I think the students have never been apathetic at Concordia,” he said. “We always need to keep at this. I think the student voice is now out, loud and clear and it’s going to get louder in the coming weeks.”
Brett was referring to a city-wide student protest set to take place on Mar. 12 following the tabling of the provincial budget, the bigger step student organizations have been planning to fight tuition hikes.
“We’re definitely going to keep mobilizing toward March 12 to send a strong message to Charest that we stand with the health sector, labour sector, anti-poverty organizations, indigenous people against service fee hikes and basically charges that are targeted at middle-class working people,” Doucet said.
For her part, Lucas said “This is just a taste of what’s to come on Mar. 12 when we go to protest.”