Over a year has gone by since the historic day that truly kicked off the student movement in Montreal: Nov. 10, 2011. The remarkable display of social engagement from the youth seen throughout this past year has really made an impact not only on policy, but on the way many people think about our demographic.
Students did not accomplish the toppling of a government and the reformation of policy all on their own. The tuition hike would never have been repealed without the support of Quebec citizens who marched alongside us, who donated to our cause and who turned out to vote in the election.
For many, the fight is over. But walking through the streets of downtown Nov. 22, that’s certainly not what it looked like. On that day many students and supporters marched in solidarity for the global accessible education movement.
Right now tuition is frozen, the provincial government has come through on its promises and students appear to be relieved and to some extent, proud that their efforts have paid off. Despite the victories achieved so far, we are quite concerned about the prospect of tuition fees increasing for out-of-province and international students.
The government has already stated that this is an option and McGill University hasn’t bothered to refund these students in question because they expect an increase. It’s no secret that out-of-province students pay a hefty sum for tuition, but milking them for more money after all that’s happened doesn’t sit right with us.
If and when these increases come, who will be there to stand up for these students? If the student movement has indeed begun to die down, will this increase sneak by unnoticed? Do officials think that since students who aren’t from here are so used to paying more, they won’t complain when they get slapped with additional fees? Out-of-province students are still students and being treated differently because of status is unjust and unfair.
Quebec has been criticized in the past for creating an unwelcoming environment for newcomers. Raising tuition for this demographic alone will only contribute to the feeling that non-residents are “outsiders.” Is that really the impression Quebec should be giving in this day and age?
We think not. Non-Quebec residents already pay more than everyone else. When the provincial government froze tuition, no one said anything about it possibly being a selective freeze. Quebec residents weren’t the only ones fighting the hike last year and they shouldn’t be the only ones to reap from the movement’s success.