Student associations vote in favour of strikes against tuition hikes

 After two weeks of General Assemblies, Concordia students are ready for another round of strikes

This week, 22 member associations within the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) at Concordia University are on strike to oppose the Legault government’s planned tuition hikes. 

The announcement that the hikes would increase out-of-province student tuition by about 33 per cent and international student tuition by $20,000 has already started to affect the English universities in Quebec. The enrollment rates for Concordia and Mcgill have reportedly gone down by 30 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively. 

With tuition fees being the main source of revenue for universities, a lack of student applications would be a major hit to funding. Concordia has already begun planning to cut department budgets by 7.8 per cent. 

In response to this, student unions have started striking. This week marks the third round of strikes. Each round of strikes has been longer than the previous one, while also seeing more and more member associations mobilized. An estimated total of 22,242 Concordia students alone are on strike this week.

Elle Alahmar is a first-year English major at Concordia University. She is a Quebec student, but she is in support of the student strikes.

“It’s very important for students to organize [strikes], and I think collective action on this scale is very impressive,” Alahmar said. She is a part of the Concordia Association for Students in English (CASE), which has decided to hard picket on March 15. 

Each member association, along with deciding if and when they want to strike, also voted on whether there will be a hard picket or soft picket. 

A hard picket involves students physically blocking classes from being entered. In doing so, the class is forcibly cancelled. If a class is moved to a different location or switched to an online space, attending the class is still considered crossing the picket line. 

A soft picket line will instead have students by the door of the classroom urging students to not enter the class through means such as pamphlets. In the case of a soft picket, students and professors will still be able to enter and conduct the class.

In either case, protesters urge students to not cross the picket line, as doing so weakens the movement and could result in the striking students being penalized. 

Despite most departments being mobilized, there is still contention among students regarding the strikes, especially in the case of hard pickets. Students pay to be at the university and go to classes, and being physically blocked from attending has some students upset with the decision of their departments. 

Taylor Adams is a first-year computer science major from Ontario. Their department has voted to hard picket from March 13 to15, with labs and co-ops being exempt. 

Although they are in support of the strikes, Adams has heard a lot of students voice their displeasure with the decision, especially on the Concordia Reddit page.  

“As an average student who isn’t particularly involved, I’d say there needs to be more awareness on how picketing classes does anything at a provincial level,” they said. “I feel like I see a lot of frustration from students writing that protests feel irrelevant to the cause, and that the provincial government won’t respond to us not showing up to the classes we already paid for.”

Despite the mixed feelings, a number of the associations voted on striking during their respective General Assemblies. 

These student associations are organizing several activities during the strikes. Below is a list of all the member associations that have decided to strike. The Instagram accounts for the student groups have more information on how to get involved, details on the picket type and what days they will be striking. 

Concordia Student Associations on strike:

  • Fine Arts Student Alliance 
  • Liberal Arts Society 
  • School of Community and Public Affairs Student Association
  • Sociology and Anthropology Student Association
  • Geography Undergraduate Student Society
  • Journalism Student Association
  • Urban Planning Association
  • Concordia Undergraduate Psychology Association
  • Concordia Religion Student Association
  • Biology Student Association
  • Sustainability and Diversity Student Association
  • Science College Student Association
  • Women’s and Sexualities Student Association
  • Undergraduate Student Association in Translation
  • Communication Studies Student Association Guild
  • Engineering and Computer Science Association
  • Concordia Association for Students in English
  • Linguistics Student Association
  • Applied Human Sciences Student Association
  • Philosophy Graduate Student Association
  • Political Science Graduate Student Association
  • Graduate History Student Association
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