Home CommentaryOpinions Editorial – Before Nov. 10, think about Nov. 3

Editorial – Before Nov. 10, think about Nov. 3

by The Concordian November 1, 2011
The magic number is 450. Whether that many arts and science students can be assembled in one room at the same time, however, remains to be seen.
The Arts and Science Federation of Associations’ special general meeting, taking place this Thursday in conjunction with the Concordia Student Union, could very well serve as an indicator of how committed Concordia students are in the ongoing fight against tuition hikes.
At the SGM, ASFA is looking to present a strike mandate to its membership. But the only way to actually carry out a vote on the mandate is if the 18,000-strong student federation reaches quorum, hence the number 450.
If quorum is attained and a majority votes in favour of the strike mandate, students will be urged to take to the streets on Nov. 10 when a plethora of student groups from across Quebec hold a massive demonstration against tuition hikes in downtown Montreal.
Over the past few weeks, smaller groups of Concordia students have joined their colleagues from other Montreal CÉGEPs and universities in what could be described as “mini-protests,” such as the one that took place outside of Education Minister Line Beauchamp’s Montreal office in early October.
Other acts have been committed as well to manifest against the Charest government’s imminent tuition hikes, including the release of 1,000 red balloons in the Hall building on Sept. 28, representing the thousands of Quebec students that could be deprived of a post-secondary education in the future due to these tuition increases.
But to date, none of these events have succeeded in attracting 450 students, at least not 450 Concordia students.
While the number may seem daunting, it’s important to remember that such a high figure for quorum has been reached before, quite recently in fact. This past Valentine’s Day, the Concordia Student Union held a special general meeting known as WHALE (Wintry Hot Accessible Love-in for Education) where it not only reached quorum, which was set at 897, but it surpassed it by hosting over 1,000 students on the Reggie’s terrace. At that particular SGM, students adopted motions denouncing tuition increases, the lack of transparency in Concordia’s governance structure, as well as a motion to reduce quorum for future SGMs.
This event proves that what may seem to be unthinkable can actually happen—all it takes is the right kind of mobilization. ASFA, again in conjunction with the CSU, recently held an information session to go over the controversial topic of tuition with its membership. It has also done some publicity for the SGM, including creating a Facebook event page.
But despite trying to get the SGM to fit in students’ usually small attention spans, the only thing that might realistically get 450 students into H-110 at 1 p.m. on Nov. 3 are ASFA and CSU execs shouting at people from the bottom of the escalators to attend the SGM. It may seem like a fruitless effort, but it certainly worked for the CSU in February.
Whether they are ASFA members or not, all Concordia students, undergraduate and graduates, should pack H-110 this Thursday. There is honestly no one issue that affects such a large group of students more than tuition, particularly tuition increases. The Charest government is looking at increasing tuition by $325 a year between 2012 and 2017, effectively upping tuition by $1,625 over the next five years. As has already been said by countless student groups, and even proven by statistics, students are already struggling financially while at university. Why worsen the struggle?
This is a question that will undoubtedly resonate among the students who attend next Monday’s SGM. According to CSU VP external Chad Walcott, Concordia’s Commerce and Administration Students Association was not yet ready to hold an SGM, while the Engineering and Computer Science Association has a mandate to not take a political stance. As for the Fine Arts Student Alliance, Walcott said he had been unable to reach them.
Despite this apparent lack of participation/communication thus far from other faculty associations, it doesn’t mean that this Thursday’s SGM has to be a solely ASFA and CSU event. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that the event will be a flop.
Students need to be part of the dialogue, and the best way to begin is by rallying with their fellow students, developing a clear message, and putting that message out there – or in this case, taking that message to the streets.
And that message is clear: “$1,625, it won’t pass,” or in French: “1,625$ de hausse, ça ne passe pas.”
That slogan has been repeated time and time again by student organizers, but on Nov. 10 it’s about to be said a lot louder. We can only hope that a minimum of 450 arts and science students from Concordia, and a maximum of all Concordia students, see fit to shout the message as well.

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