What you need to know about the upcoming strike, and why you should join.
Tuition hikes? Student strikes. From Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, close to 6000 Concordia students across various departments will be on strike to fight against the looming tuition hikes. This is a major step in the mobilization efforts against austerity measures that threaten the future of our education. But first of all, what exactly will the strike look like and why is it important?
For three days, classes of participating departments will be either cancelled (with the cooperation of faculty) or picketed. This means that student volunteers will be physically blocking classrooms and preventing business-as-usual. Certain departments have already decided to join the strike—including geography, urban planning, and community and public affairs—while many more have called General Assemblies to hold a deciding vote.
Last week, the faculty of fine arts voted, nearly unanimously, to strike—an incredible victory, as this adds over 3000 students to the effort and signifies the only faculty-wide participation.
Students may be concerned that strikes will negatively impact their studies. It’s helpful to know that student unions are protected in the same way as workers’ unions, so you cannot be penalized for missing classes due to a strike.
Though striking may feel personally disruptive, the goal is to disrupt the system, which is essential to create real change. As stated on the strike information webpage of the Concordia Student Union, “Student strikes represent a withholding of academic labour and a disruption to the university and the economy at large.”
Quebec has a long history of striking, which has proven the impressive results of such methods. The most striking example (pun intended) is the Maple Spring of 2012, the longest student strikes in Quebec’s history. Over 300,000 students mobilized against a planned 75 per cent increase in tuition rates, and the tuition increase was ultimately overturned.
Twelve years later, the current efforts have drawn heavy inspiration from the past. There is a palpable sense of excitement brewing, echoed by the awareness of history being made once again. “This is potentially the biggest mobilization at Concordia since the 2012 strikes,” said Adam Semergian, a student in Concordia’s school of community and public affairs. Semergian is part of a dedicated group of individuals in the mobilization effort and the push for free tuition. For many, this is the ultimate goal—generating momentum toward a future with free education for all.
These issues impact all students, regardless of whether your own tuition will be immediately affected. In light of this fact, I encourage everyone to get involved in whatever way you can. If your department is on strike, come help picket—fine arts students can sign up through the link in the Instagram bio of @fasalovesyou. If your department isn’t on strike, but you would like to promote a strike mandate, try contacting [email protected]—you can also reach out to them for more information regarding meetings and mobilization efforts.
When unjust measures threaten students, it’s easy to feel powerless. But don’t forget—students are some of the fiercest organizers out there, and we have proven again and again the power we hold.
So what are you waiting for? Strike!