Protesters have the right to strike, but students and profs shouldn’t be caught in the crossfire
With the first day of spring came something else: a second wave of red squares, chants, and strikes—apparently, the second Maple Spring is here.
At Concordia, many student associations have voted in favour of holding strikes—something they have every legal and civil right to do. But with these strikes comes a problem; it was a problem back in 2012 too.
Some student associations have decided that in addition to striking, they will hard picket the entrances of classes. These tactics include physically blocking the entrance to classes, verbally harassing those who try to cross picket lines, and even entering and interrupting classes in session—intimidating professors and students alike.
This is unacceptable.
On the one hand, it is true that students are represented by their associations. Therefore, if students vote to go on strike, technically, all the students in the faculty are on strike. However, the reality isn’t nearly so black and white: even within seemingly homogenous student organizations, there are always those who disagree with the consensus of the majority. There are likely students who, although represented by an association on strike, have an earnest desire to return to class and learn.
Is it really alright for students to intimidate fellow students, teachers, and even university employees trying to enter the building? Even if this includes students whose associations may not be participating in the strike? Even though faculty are obliged to teach their classes, or risk losing their jobs? Even though university employees literally have nothing to do with the cuts to education?
During Monday’s protest, some Concordia students interrupted a class and harassed a professor until he left. In this case, picketers directing their anger at the nearest figure of authority doesn’t help to put any additional pressure on the government, it alienates potential supporters of the cause. It’s important to remember that professors are affected by the provincial cuts too, especially since teaching is their livelihood.
Strikers should respect their fellow students’ right to attend class. By striking and refusing to attend class, you are acknowledging the risks to your grades and your attendance. However, imposing a failing grade on your fellow students by preventing them from attending class is not only irresponsible, but it accomplishes nothing.
Regardless of whether you support the strike or not, it’s a matter of respect. You have the right to protest. But you also have the right to learn. And everyone deserves the right to pick which side of the picket line they’ll be standing on.