Schools Training

Discord Within the Ranks of Quebec’s Students

12 MAR 2012
Topic : Education News

Quebec’s student strike shows no sign of slowing down (roughly 130,000 university and CÉGEP students have been boycotting classes throughout Quebec), but not every student in the province is thrilled with the idea of continuing the strike.

A couple of articles in the Montreal Gazette on theQuebec Students protest over tuition hikes (roughly $325 per student over the next five years – an increase that would still keep Quebec tuition among the cheapest in the entire country), took a look at Quebec students in favour of tuition fee increases.

Essentially, the protest is forcing students who don’t suppor the movement into a very tough spot, one that is impacting their current semester and future internship opportunities. Most feel increasingly disaffected and unrepresented by student leaders, who “are promoting a strike to pressure the government.”

At the root of this — apart from just wanting to pursue their studies — is the idea that democratic rights are being abused. Protesters have blocked classrooms and, on occasion forced students out. “We are onto our fourth week of the strike and I’m getting scared,” Celina Toia, a law student at UQAM told the Gazette. “Our exams have been switched to papers, we’re really pushing back material we should be learning and we need to apply for internships.”

Those who are against the strike have taken to wearing green squares, a rebuke, of sorts, to the red felt square pin worn by protesters. To help these students, a new student coalition, Coalition étudiante pour l’association libre (CÉPAL), has been created.

CÉPAL wants to depoliticize student unions and is putting together a plan that would create two types of student unions: one for campus services and one for car bombs and molotov cocktails (read: activism).

“We want the public to know that not all students feel represented,” Philippe-Olivier Daniel, president of the coalition, told the press. “A minority of students are holding these institutions hostage.”

Here’s some footage from someone right in the thick of the protests:

What do you think about all this?