Philosophy and Fine Arts associations vote to strike, block classrooms
Both the Fine Arts Student Association (FASA) and the Students of Philosophy Association (SoPhiA) have voted to join in anti-austerity strikes that will see them exit classes and take to picketing.
As a FASA special general assembly gathered to meet in quorum on Thursday, March 12, members and observers debated the best way to mobilize and proceed with the strike. Ultimately, a vote declared a two-day strike, to be held on March 23 and April 2, as preferable to a week-long affair.
For SoPhiA, a full week of striking was decided on, after the members of the association also voted in favour of joining the anti-austerity strike initiatives. The vote made the strike official, starting on March 26 and ending April 2, in addition to a one-day strike on March 23.
The assembly prefaced the strike vote by debating the general ramifications of the vote and the possible strike, notably adding to the motion that they would mobilize to “hard picket” the teachers, instead of focusing solely on the students, to enforce the strike measures and ensure that classes would be disrupted.
One suggestion raised was that the Graduate Philosophy Students’ Association would be invited to vote on the possibility of going on strike as well.
FASA begins mobilization
“The important concern was if we have the resources to go on strike for a full week,” said Catherine Fournier Poirier, FASA’s general communications coordinator. She added that “on the 23 of March we’ll have the opportunity to prove to our membership that we have the resources.”
She said they may follow SoPhiA’s lead and plan longer actions in the future. At the same time, they’re pushing to be part of interfaculty discussions and to bring more groups on board with the idea.
Fournier-Poirier said FASA was in the process of forming committees to better focus their efforts in the days to come. The first would be a picketing committee, to “make sure every class is cancelled or disrupted,” while the second would coordinate communication efforts between different groups.
She also stated that, should push come to shove or any threatening situation occur, the safety of the students would overrule any attempts at barricading the classrooms.
This follows from accounts of physical altercation between mobilizers and teachers in certain classes, the students wishing to raise awareness and the teachers sometimes overly zealous in considering it a disruption.
Student Media excluded
The student press was drawn into the proceedings, after some members of SoPhiA argued over the necessity of their presence and whether or not recordings made by student media were permissible. The first round of voting on the subject ended in a tie, leading to further debate, during which the student journalists were allowed to speak on their own behalf; a second vote carried the assembly’s decision to do away with any recording.
Perhaps because of this concern, the latter half of SoPhiA’s assembly was made a closed session, open to members only.