Home News Accessible education is dead; Long live accessible education

Accessible education is dead; Long live accessible education

by The Concordian November 1, 2011

It seems that even the undead are opposed to tuition fee hikes in Quebec.
The Concordia Student Union and the Fédération des associations étudiantes du campus de l’Université de Montréal teamed up on Halloween for a double dose of protest in front of Premier Jean Charest’s Montreal office and home.
Covered in fake blood and wrapped up in toiler paper bandages, students taking part in the CSU-led march moaned and groaned their way along Ste-Catherine St., making their way from the Reggie’s terrace to Charest’s office on McGill College Avenue.
Carrying Jack-o’-lanterns, lit candles and plastic flowers, around 40 protesters led a funeral procession for “the death of accessible education.” Student Alex Matak led the “service” through a speaker system, encouraging passersby to “weep and cry and wail for education tonight.”
While mainly keeping to the sidewalk, protesters took a quick vote and decided to march on the road for one block on Ste-Catherine between Crescent St. and de la Montagne St. The procession then turned onto McGill College, ending at Charest’s office where the mention of his name incited wails of “Shame!” and “Murderer!” Matak then invited protesters to “close [their] eyes and bow [their] heads” in a moment of silence.
Several of the “mourners” were prompted to take the microphone and speak. “I wish I could eat their brains,” joked councillor Kyle McLoughlin when the zombie-protesters called out for the brains of Charest and his cabinet. “Maybe then I could get an education.”
The protesters left behind their lighted candles and pumpkins, which were snuffed out by security soon after, as well as a coffin with the words “See you in 10 days” painted on it in red.
Meanwhile, a similar demonstration organized by the FAÉCUM marched to Jean Charest’s house in Westmount to drop off a coffin representing the death of accessible education on his lawn. Around 120 students participated in the demonstration, according to FAÉCUM press attaché Alexandre Ducharme.
The protests were staged in a lead-up to a massive, inter-university demonstration scheduled for Nov. 10. That demonstration is part of the “$1,625 more won’t pass!” movement which kicked off at the the beginning of the semester. The movement is intended to voice students’ disagreement with the provincial government’s decision to up tuition for Quebec students by $325 per year over the next five years.
In preparation for Nov. 10, the Arts and Science Federation of Associations and the CSU have organized a special general meeting on Nov. 3 to ask students to approve a one-day strike mandate.
Since the SGM is the result of a motion passed by ASFA council at their October meeting,
if passed, the strike mandate will only officially affect ASFA students, according to CSU VP external Chad Walcott.
“I think it would send a very strong message that arts and science students are aware of and against student increases,” he said. “I think it will act as an incentive for students to be out on the Nov. 10 in the streets with us and the rest of the student movement.”
Lisa Raffy, a French international student studying political science at Concordia, said she supports the strike mandate. “In France, we strike all the time,” said Raffy, describing it as the most effective way to institute change.
In the event that the SGM does not meet quorum or that the students vote down the mandate, the student union has been working with university administration and faculty members to grant an informal academic amnesty day to students who do not show up for class on Nov. 10.

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