This Thursday, Nov. 10, over 100,000 students will be on strike, pushing for an end to tuition increases. Of course, what’s important to remember when reading the headlines in the mainstream press announcing this massive strike is that there won’t necessarily be 100,000 students taking to the streets. The student associations that have voted for this strike simply represent that number of constituents.
But what is more important to remember is that 100,000 students doesn’t have to be some lofty, unreachable number. Imagine that many students marching through the streets of downtown Montreal, calling for an end to high tuition increases, more transparency in universities’ governance structure, and ultimately more respect for students and the struggles they face as they attempt to complete their degrees.
If 100,000 people took to the streets, the Charest government would have no choice but to listen. There is nothing more deafening to the ears than 100,000 voices shouting for change.
Certainly, to date, countless demonstrations have taken place to bring the Quebec government’s attention back to what really matters for students: affordable tuition that will not serve as a barrier to their education and ultimately their successful futures. Red balloons have been released in the air, a protest has been held in front of Education Minister Line Beauchamp’s Montreal office, and a casket has been left at the doorstep of Jean Charest’s Westmount homeâ€”all in an effort to open up a much needed dialogue between the students and an incredibly stubborn government.
But so far, no concrete message has been sent from Quebec City that it will change its mind with regards to increasing tuition by $325 a year between 2012 and 2017. In fact, no message has been communicated period. The silence of Charest’s Liberals can only mean one thing: we’re not interested in changing our minds, so deal with it.
But if 100,000 students could march through Montreal and in other Quebec cities on Nov. 10, it could very well serve as the wake-up call the provincial government so desperately needs. For the premier and his gang of penny pinching ministers, it is likely quite easy to turn a blind eye to a handful of protesters outside Beauchamp’s Montreal office. But turn a blind eye to 100,000 people? Let’s see them try that.
But to really test the provincial government’s patience and bring it back to the bargaining table, it’s going to take you. And your friends. And your classmates. Basically everyone. They are all needed in this fight to preserve Quebec’s reputation as the province with the lowest tuition rate in the country, and to continue to foster the idea that education is not a (expensive) privilege, but rather a right.
The Quebec government has been calling the shots for far too long now when it comes to students’ financial well-being. This Nov. 10 is the perfect opportunity to show the government who they’re actually dealing with.