Graduate students and arts and science undergraduates voted in favour of an academic strike mandate for Nov. 10, the day of the province-wide protest against tuition hikes, at a special general meeting held last Thursday.
Out of the 570 students present at the SGM, six undergraduate and two graduate students voted against the mandate and one student abstained, according to ASFA’s records.
“This is our opportunity as Concordia students and as an English school in Montreal to show that we have a school spirit strong enough to stand together united with one message,” said Concordia Student Union VP external and projects Chad Walcott. “That message is ‘no’ to this tuition increase.”
ASFA VP external and sustainability Paul Jerajian called the meeting’s outcome “a major step for ASFA.”
The CSU organized the SGM along with ASFA and the Graduate Students’ Association.
There were no faculty or administrative representatives at the meeting and the strike mandate as it currently stands does not exclude the possibility of academic consequences for strikers. According to Jerajian, a motion which states the meeting’s result still needs to be approved by the faculty in order to have a clear academic amnesty. Walcott said that the CSU is sending the SGM result to the administration to inform them of the ASFA strike mandate. Meanwhile, Provost David Graham sent out a recommendation to faculties and departments to be lenient on Nov. 10 in matters of attendance and late assignments, Walcott said.
“A strike mandate from ASFA’s membership means that 18,000 students have democratically decided not to go to school and to support the action on Nov. 10,” said CSU president Lex Gill. “If the university tries to go against the motion and punish students for not going to class on that day they are putting themselves in a very bad position.”
ASFA and the GSA needed to meet quorumâ€”a minimum of 371 undergraduate students and 60 graduate students, respectivelyâ€”in order to obtain a legal vote. When quorum was met an hour after the meeting started, students voted to skip the information presentation on tuition hikes and to vote for a strike mandate straightaway. They also skipped the open microphone session in the process, a decision which left some students unable to voice their opinions.
“We are both against the mandate and we wanted to speak before the vote,” said Erik Scanlon, and Philip Ryan-Gyroux, two economics students. “They never actually opened the microphone for people who disagree with the mandate. This is unacceptable in a so-called democratic process.”
If the Nov. 10 protest does not meet the expected results, students could meet again to vote for an unlimited general strike, where students would strike continuously until demands are met or until students decide to stop striking.
A march to join the 2 p.m. general rally at Place Ã‰milie-Gamelin near Berri-UQAM metro station will leave the Reggie’s terrace at 1:10 p.m., and will pass by McGill University. The CSU is organizing a pre-gathering downtown from 11 a.m. onwards on the terrace. The student union has also arranged for buses to pick up students from the Loyola campus at 12:30 p.m. and bring them to Reggie’s to join the rest of the delegation