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Student associations prepare to strike for a reading week

Pictured: Torben Laux, president of the Urban Planning Student Association. THOMAS VAILLANCOURT/The Concordian

Students from different associations are working together to strike in October

Various members of the associations (MAs) held their respective Annual General Meetings (AGM) throughout last week, and voted on whether or not to participate in a week-long student strike for a fall reading week. 

Several student associations involved with the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) will come together on Oct. 3 through 7 to picket classes if the mandate is passed. 

Unlike other Quebec universities such as McGill, Université Laval, and Université de Montréal, Concordia does not have a reading week during the fall semester. In 2021, the University announced its plan to implement 12-week terms and a fall reading week. However, the new academic calendar will only begin in the summer term of 2023.

During the MA retreat last May, ASFA executives took it upon themselves to plan a student strike and shared their plans with other associations. 

Following numerous conversations among the different associations and the ASFA team at the retreat, the Urban Planning Association (UPA) was the first student group to hold an AGM on Aug. 15 and get the mandate to strike. 

According to Torben Laux, president of UPA, ASFA is working closely with different associations to coordinate the strike. 

“At the moment, they’re going to be setting up a little package on how to strike, how to picket. Students will not come to classes. No assignments are allowed to be submitted, and no quizzes are allowed to be handed out,” explained Laux. 

“It’s a lot of work, but I think it’s really exciting, especially after two years of not doing much. I think it will give younger students a really great opportunity to live through a strike. So, I think it will make people feel really empowered,” he added. 

Ashley Torres, mobilization coordinator for ASFA, also expressed her frustration with the University. 

“There’s no point for us to really wait that extra year… due to the pandemic, the past few years have been extremely difficult and challenging for students, especially [regarding] our mental health, and we deserve a long week break for classes,” said Torres. 

Concordia University spokesperson Vannina Maestracci explained in a statement sent to The Concordian, the reason for the delay in implementing the break. 

“Schedules for the full university are usually made a few years in advance, and transitioning from a 13-week to 12-week term is a significant adjustment for programs that have designed their curriculum around a 13-week course, especially programs that are subject to accreditation rules.” 

“Given this, we are now doing the academic planning, training, logistics, and providing support and resources to faculty to ensure a successful transition to 12-week terms as of summer 2023,” read the statement. 

Regardless, student associations have decided to gather and raise their concerns. 

Another group that recently passed a motion to strike on Sept. 9 is the Geography Undergrad Student Society (GUSS), who are working with UPA to spread the word about the upcoming strike by sending out emails and preparing flyers. 

Liv Aspden, president of GUSS, explained that the student strike will take place during the first week of October to mobilize and emphasize better student care. 

“I’m not going to have a week off. We’re going to be striking, and we’re going to be picketing classes… we’re not going to get a break because we’re going to be obviously standing up for what we know is right and what should be happening, and just holding the University accountable for things that haven’t taken place,” said Aspden.

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