Jeanne Reynolds, a student at Valleyfield CEGEP and spokesperson for CLASSE, said at a press conference last Sunday that the organization is focused on uniting students throughout the province.
“We need to work together to show [Education Minister Line Beauchamp] we’re serious,” said Reynolds.
At the conference, delegates from different educational institutions with red squares pinned to hats, backpacks and coats, gathered to discuss the next steps of the movement. CLASSE set dates for three protests to happen on March 13, 18 and 22, which will invite community groups, families and other concerned citizens to join in.
Reynolds emphasized the importance of gaining momentum and individual involvement because “everyone is affected.”
“There will be a world-wide protest in Montreal on March 13 in order to underline the ‘international characteristics’ of the strike,” said Reynolds. “The [manifestation] will begin at 1 p.m., in Victoria Square.”
On March 18, CLASSE is organizing a family-oriented protest, the details of which have not yet been decided. Finally, on March 22, students will take to the streets at 1 p.m., starting at Place du Canada in downtown Montreal.
Striking at Concordia
As Concordia draws closer to the Concordia Student Union strike vote on March 7, and with multiple student associations having already voted on strike mandates of their own, some teaching associations have begun to plan ahead.
Concordia University’s Part-Time Faculty Association released a document detailing how members are to proceed in the event of a general student strike.
The document stated that “under no circumstances should [CUPFA members] call security. We do not wish to create any incidents on the curb which may deteriorate relations between students and the university.”
CUPFA is not the only union to release this type of document. Last week, the Teaching and Research Assistants at Concordia union released a plan to outline their response to a strike, which included advising members not to force their way into a classroom or building, or engage in any kind of physical or verbal confrontation with students.
The Concordia University Faculty Association also sent an email to its members stating the association’s support for accessible post-secondary education, but reiterating the contractual obligations that require faculty to “perform regular duties.”
“Withholding services at this time could be interpreted as an illegal strike and as such you are required to attend your classes and follow your course outlines,” read the email sent by the CUFA executive. “Notwithstanding the foregoing, members are not obliged to submit themselves to any physical or psychological harassment.”
Concordia Student Union President Lex Gill agreed that clashes between students and security would not be in anyone’s best interests. “The only response [security] has is to call the police,” she said. “Nobody wants that to happen.”
Gill called members of striking faculties such as Fine Arts “inspiring,” and said that she was pleasantly surprised by the behaviour of protesters thus far.
As for the university’s official position, Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota said Provost David Graham was prepared to encourage faculty to exercise leniency regarding class attendance for the March 22 province-wide day of protest, as he did last Nov. 10.
“However, this position will not apply in the event of a prolonged boycott,” she explained. “The provost has made it clear that he will not encourage professors to be flexible and exercise leniency in such circumstances.”
The CSU general assembly meeting will begin at 3 p.m. on March 7, where students are invited to take part in a discussion period followed by a vote. The CSU has booked multiple rooms including Loyola’s the Hive, the CSU conference room (Hall building 7th floor) and room H-110.
Gill explained the CSU is “trying to anticipate a high turnout” and that the three rooms booked could fit roughly 2,000 to 3,000 students. The vote and discussion in each room will be live streamed.
The Graduate Students Association general assembly strike vote will be held on March 6 at 12 p.m., in H-110.