Home CommentaryOpinions Nov. 10: Mark that date down

Nov. 10: Mark that date down

by The Concordian October 11, 2011
There is less than one month left before Nov. 10, a date that should be inscribed on every student’s calendar.
On that day, thousands of students and representatives of other advocacy groups will take to the streets of Montreal and protest against the Quebec government’s tuition hikes. In a recent interview with the Concordian, the Concordia Student Union’s VP external Chad Walcott said that he hoped at least 5,000 ConU students would turn out for the protest, noting that such a high number would “be a huge accomplishment towards a stronger school spirit at Concordia.”
It is therefore evident that the benefits of having members of the campus community participate in the massive Nov. 10 demonstration are twofold.
For one thing, having ConU students out in the brisk November cold with their counterparts from across the city and the province would send a very clear message to the provincial government that its plan to increase tuition by $325 a year over the next five years is not a decision that students have taken lightly.
With the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec’s “$1,625 Ca ne passe pas” campaign, launched in conjunction with the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec, students from across Quebec have been given a clear vehicle through which to express their views and their concerns to the Charest government. The government can definitely hear them, but whether they’re actually listening remains to be seen.
On the other hand, a massive Concordia turnout at the Nov. 10 protest would be a much needed boost for Concordia’s student population, allowing them to develop a real sense of unity in a year that has proven to be at many times difficult where student voices are concerned.
Only recently, Concordia’s Board of Governors, the highest governing body at the university, voted overwhelmingly in favour of a recommendation to reduce undergraduate student representation on the board from four to one, effectively decreasing the voting power of the largest faction of the campus community.
But as the Board of Governors undoubtedly already knows, and as they will witness yet again on Nov. 10, students still have the ability to speak their minds, and quite loudly too. While the main focus of the Nov. 10 demonstration is tuition hikes, the protest will allow for Concordia students to head back to the classroom with a renewed sense of determination in fighting back against the administration.
Just like the Quebec government must know that their decision to increase tuition is wrong, the higher echelons of Concordia’s administration must also know that if they piss students off, they will soon regret it.
And the fight has already begun. On Sept. 28, following the tense Board of Governors meeting, the CSU and other concerned students released 1,000 red balloons in the Hall building, with each balloon representing 30 students who will not be able to afford university if the government moves ahead with its planned tuition increases.
Last Thursday, ConU students stepped it up even further by participating in a protest outside Minister of Education Line Beauchamp’s Montreal office, an event organized by the Coalition regionale etudiante de Montreal.
Politicians and senior administrators have therefore begun to experience the full force of students’ rage, and it will only continue until the government and universities realize that all students want is the ability to go to school without the burden of heavy debt, and the knowledge that their school is accountable not to the donors and business people on its Board of Governors, but to the members of the campus community who matter most: students, faculty, and support staff.
Nov. 10 is a date that cannot be missed. Already, so many students are struggling to pay their tuition, and oftentimes spend years after graduation paying off their debt. Quebec students may have the lowest tuition fees in the country, but the Insitut de recherche et d’informations socio-economiques has predicted that the government’s tuition increases could prevent over 30,000 students from accessing university education.
That’s a number that cannot be ignored. And while Quebec students struggle, out-of-province and international students struggle even more. These are two groups that also matter in this fight against tuition hikes. When calls are made to increase financial aid and awards for students, it is imperative that these demands be made on behalf of every single student who attends a Quebec university, regardless of their origin.
With less than a month to go before the student protest of the year, Concordia students can at least rest assured that they are in good hands where organization is involved. It is important to give credit where credit is due. The CSU and its Mob Squad have so far proved to be highly efficient in getting the message on tuition hikes out to students and getting them out to protest. It’s important to remember that some of the students who played such key roles behind the scenes last year in the organization of student demonstrations – Lex Gill, Morgan Pudwell, Gonzo Nieto, and Chad Walcott, to name just a few – are now in positions of power as CSU executives, and have, to date, used their positions wisely in leading ConU students through the fight against tuition hikes.
We can only hope that the CSU continues to demonstrate a sense of leadership in the tuition hikes file and that ultimately, Nov. 10 will be one hell of a date to remember.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment