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To strike or not to strike

by Shereen Ahmed Rafea January 17, 2012

March 7 will be the day that undergraduate students decide on Concordia’s role in the province-wide battle against tuition fee hikes in Quebec.

The Concordia Student Union has passed a motion setting March 7 as a date for a general assembly for a strike mandate expected to last from March 26 to 29.

“This is pretty much, the only card left that the students have in their hands in Quebec,” said CSU president Lex Gill at at last Wednesday’s council meeting. While Gill admitted that a strike will not be easy, she described it as a necessary step against tuition fee increases in the province.

This week, the CSU will renew their campaign against the hikes, launching an information campaign leading up to the assembly in March about the pros and cons of going forth with a strike, including flyers, posters, booklets and speeches.

“It’s really important to us that moving towards March 7, each student is fully aware of what they are going to be voting on and what impacts it will have on them,” said VP external Chad Walcott at the meeting.

Other events in the campaign include a one week sleep-in at the library to raise awareness about the tuition increases, fax and phone jams and F#ck Tuition Tuesdays at Reggie’s Bar in the Hall Building.

“To talk about a strike at this point, frankly if we weren’t I would be really worried,” said Gill, who reminded council that there are other student unions in Quebec planning strikes as early as February.

Walcott said strikes are proven to be effective in putting pressure on the government.

“We’re in a position to have a serious impact on our province,” he added in an interview.

During the meeting, some concerns were raised with regards to international students, and the potential consequences of their participation in long-term demonstrations. The CSU, however, insisted that international students who choose to strike will not run risk of being deported.

Concordia’s Mob Squad is also planning for future demonstrations, and teamed up with McGill to hold a winter training camp for interested activists last weekend.

Concordia students first protested the hikes on Nov.10, joining tens of thousands of students marching against the extra $1625 worth of tuition fees proposed by the Jean Charest government. The province currently plans to increase the cost of university tuition $325 yearly over the next five years.

The next province-wide demonstration is set for March 22.

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