There was no line at the Tim Hortons in the Hall building. There were three people to an elevator in the MB. Something was missing at Concordia on Nov. 10, and their absence did not go unnoticed.
Nov. 10 marked the student “Day of Action” organized to show disagreement with rising tuition fees in Quebec. Concordia students took to the streets in protest Thursday, marching in solidarity with students from other Quebec CEGEPs and universities.
Despite the overwhelming support displayed for the strike by the Arts and Science Federation of Associations and Graduate Students’ Association at a joint meeting in the week leading up to the rally, some Concordia students did not share their peers’ enthusiasm.
“I do believe in unions and free speech. I just think it goes against the idea of education that people chose to skip class in protest,” said Fabrizio Pantalone, an undergraduate linguistics student.
Pantalone feels that the ad campaigns launched by various student groups intentionally exaggerated facts to suit their message. “I don’t approve of some of the misinformation being used. The posters saying that Charest paid $500 for university, that’s just not true,” he said, pointing out that in order for that argument to be valid, proper allowances have to be made for inflation.
He said the student activists are using “sensationalist tactics,” and that if they wish to draw more people to their cause, they should do so by being realistic.
A business student, who wished only to be identified as Veronica, feels that some of her classmates don’t realize how good they have it.
“I think we pay the lowest tuition in Canada. I think [the strike is] a little unnecessary. I’m against it,” she said. Veronica said she pays for her own schooling and that she feels that “education is an investment.”
While some students were clearly opposed to the strike, others were unable to miss class. Vinh Ha, a student in Concordia’s accounting program, said he would have liked to attend the strike but couldn’t afford to skip class. “I have a deadline,” he said. He made it clear that he didn’t see the professor being lenient on students who were absent.
Despite Provost David Graham’s recommendation that professors be understanding of students who chose to protest, many students still felt it was not an option for them to miss the time.
“[My professor]’s going to teach anyway and I don’t want to have to catch up,” said Melanie Chabot, a business student.
Eugene Kritchevski, an assistant professor of mathematics, said that he doesn’t expect the protest will produce results. “I don’t think the strike will do anything. If students really want to force change they should refuse to pay their fees,” he said.