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Anglophone universities prepare for education summit

by Marie-Josée Kelly October 9, 2012
Anglophone universities prepare for education summit

Students of anglophone universities hope to voice their concerns at the upcoming education summit put forth by the provincial government to investigate university governance and management of post-secondary funds.

As part of her mandate, newly elected Premier Pauline Marois of the Parti Québécois abolished the proposed tuition fee increase of $1,778 over the next seven years set by the previous Charest government, and promised a conference to address the concerns of post-secondary students.

The Arts and Science Federation of Associations of Concordia University set precedent in late September by approving a motion that mandated all member associations to consult students on the future of university education in preparation for the summit.

ASFA VP academic-Loyola, Eric Moses, told The Concordian that ASFA is in the process of forming a sub-committee that will examine all details surrounding the consultation of MAs.

“We [ASFA] are excited and in high gear with plans to facilitate our member associations’ process,” said Moses.
Following the consultation of its member associations, ASFA intends on bringing the concerns of their students to the table before the provincial government.

The structure of the summit and the date on which it will be held have yet to be confirmed by the PQ government but the Concordia Student Union’s VP external Simon-Pierre Lauzon explained that the CSU, along with the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec, is lobbying for an open process whereas any student group who desires to, can show up and argue their position.

“This [education summit] is important because we have a government that has shown interest in the satisfaction of the Quebec student body; it would be a disservice to students given our responsibility as representatives to skip that opportunity to provoke more positive change for our student body,” said Lauzon.

Lauzon explained that if he represents Concordia at the summit, he will argue on behalf of undergraduate students from both inside and outside of the province.

“What makes Concordia special is that it is very multicultural, there are a lot of international and out-of-province students,” said Lauzon. “My goal is to push for their interests because I feel if we don’t do that sort of lobbying then it will not be done.”

The Fine Arts Student Alliance of Concordia attempted to have a special general meeting to discuss students’ concerns Thursday but was unable to reach quorum. FASA councillor Erika Couto said that a second special general meeting will likely take place in November.

“We’re looking towards a general assembly, in which we’ll discuss specifically concerns we’re worried about as fine arts students,” said Couto. “A lot of students are concerned because Marois said she’d be cancelling the hike for this year but there are no guarantees about anything going forward.”

Couto sees the proposed summit as a positive development considering the events that took place in the last year surrounding the Charest government’s proposed increase of tuition fees. According to Couto, a consultation between the government and students is a step in the right direction.

“It is good step into educational reform in Quebec. Who better to know what students need and what it’s like to be a student than students.”

According to VP external affairs of the Student Society of McGill University Robin Reid-Fraser, SSMU is hoping to work with the Post-Graduate Student Society on a possible collaborative effort across campuses to gather students’ perspectives on university governance, tuition and the role of universities in society amongst other issues.

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