Montreal students warm up for Nov. 10

Student protesters came decked out in face paint, carrying picket signs and scrawling messages on the streets and sidewalks in chalk.
Student protesters came decked out in face paint, carrying picket signs and scrawling messages on the streets and sidewalks in chalk. Photo by Navneet Pall

More than 300 students gathered in front of Minister of Education Line Beauchamp’s Montreal office on Oct. 6 in preparation for the massive rally against tuition hikes set to take place in the city on Nov. 10.
The rally was assembled by the Coalition régionale étudiante de Montréal, a group that includes most Montreal universities and CEGEPs. The protestors planned the event to remind Beauchamp that the battle against tuition hikes, announced last March by Finance Minister Raymond Bachand, is still alive and growing.
“This is just a warm-up,” said protest organizer and Concordia Student Union VP external affairs, Chad Walcott. “The student movement here is strong and is not standing down. It’s going to be a matter of continuous outreach in Concordia as well. We’re gathering signatures and raising awareness as much as possible toward November 10.”
Walcott heads the Mob Squad, a CSU-organized group which has given itself the mandate of staging protests and demonstrations against tuition hikes. The squad was behind the release of 1,000 red balloons in the Hall building on Sept. 28, where each balloon represented 30 students who will not be able to afford to go to university if tuition fees are increased.
“These people are only the organizers,” said CSU president Lex Gill, referring to those protesting around her. “We’ve all got friends.”
Tuition will rise by $325 a year for the next five years, for a total of $1,625. Although Quebec would still remain the Canadian province with the lowest fees, the Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-économiques predicts that this increase could prevent more than 30,000 students from accessing university-level education
“I’m already struggling with rent, school and the rest,” said Erica Deutschman, a Concordia communications studies student present at the rally. “This is a real problem for me.”
During the protest, speakers from various schools took the microphone to shout their own personal message to Beauchamp in French and English.
“The French media will focus on French schools but the English media today is not involved in the debate at all,” said Walcott. “It’s going to be our responsibility as well as Dawson’s and McGill’s to make sure the English media starts talking about [tuition] a lot more. Ultimately, we need public opinion on our side to win this battle and without the media talking about this, it’s going to be hard to get.”
Student union representatives are hoping that this protest movement will not only block the hike but also, through this “common battle”, empower students and create a stronger sense of community within Concordia.
“I believe that if we could gather 5,000 Concordia students for November 10, it would have a massive impact and be a huge accomplishment towards a stronger school spirit at Concordia,” said Walcott.


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