This Wednesday, Concordia undergraduates will pile into three rooms — two at SGW and one at Loyola — to vote on whether or not they wish to join much of the rest of the province’s angry students in a general strike against tuition hikes.
Already, many departmental associations, and even faculty groups such as the Fine Arts Student Alliance, are on strike, and may remain so for some time. These students have sent a clear message to the government that it must back down from its controversial tuition increases, which would up tuition by $325 a year between 2012 and 2017.
The vote will be a definitive moment in Concordia’s history; you can already guess what the result will be.
Nonetheless, students from both sides of the tuition debate (because yes, there are indeed students who support the hikes, and no, they’re not all at school on Daddy’s dollar), need to be at this Wednesday’s general assembly so that Concordia undergraduates can finally have a frank and honest discussion, face-to-face, about this tuition-induced maelstrom that we’ve all been inevitably thrown into.
Some members of the associations that have already voted to strike have complained that quorum for voting is too low, that the 45 or so students from the Political Science Students Association who voted in favour of the strike did not represent the will of the department’s 1,600 students. Some students who are against the strike say they didn’t bother showing up to their association’s vote because they were positive such a thing wouldn’t pass, while others simply shelved the potential for a strike at the back of their mind, hoping the idea would eventually just go away.
But the fact that several thousand Concordia students are now on strike should not only send a message to the Charest government, it should also send a message to the rest of Concordia’s student population: if it can happen to them, it can happen to you. So if you’re in favour of striking until your lungs give out, go vote on Wednesday, March 7, at 3 p.m. If you’re against the strike and would prefer to remain in your warm — or not-so-warm, if you’re at Loyola — classes, go vote on Wednesday, March 7.
It has become painfully obvious that every vote and every opinion matters in this bubbling debate. Mainstream newspaper editorials, including a scathing piece recently published by The Suburban weekly newspaper, will tell you that if you strike and complain about the increase in tuition, you’re nothing but a “whining, mewling, puking infant.”
Don’t listen to them — hell, you don’t even have to listen to what this editorial is saying. Vote with your own conscious, and not based on what others are telling you.
Even at the end of every CBC broadcast of the strikes in Quebec — which have so far been surprisingly objective in their coverage — the reporter still feels the need to add “Quebec students, even once the increases are complete, will still be paying the lowest tuition fees in the country.”
That may be so, but that’s certainly not a reason to back down from fighting the government. Because as we’ve seen through history, all it really takes is for someone to get angry to eventually change up the old ways of doing things.
If students succeed in pushing the Liberals to reverse their decision on increasing tuition — and perhaps even look at how to better manage the funds they’re already pouring into universities — then maybe this will inspire students in other provinces who pay through the roof for tuition to demand change from their governments.
Ideally, this would be important to keep in mind ahead of the March 7 vote. But again, your decision on whether or not to take to the streets should be based purely on your own views. So do yourself a favour and vote.