New Orleans I had not been paying enough attention to a random piece about students rallying in Montreal until my coattails were pulled the other day by a friend and colleague, Eric Shragg, who is a professor, author, and activist in that city. In a brief email he mentioned that the increase in US-terms was not catastrophic, but that students with lots of community support were reacting in record numbers – more than 200,000 hit the streets in late March – because they saw the tuition rise as the sharp stick of neoliberal retrenchment poking them – and their futures – in the eye. The increase in fact was over $1000 and represented a 75% hike in what had amounted as extremely reasonably priced higher education.
A video link from Eric on YouTube was an impressive organizing “flyer” for increasing the pressure even more this coming Sunday, April 22. It’s worth checking this out:
In Canada students are widely organized and represented by their own associations, and, if anything, this is almost truer in Montreal and Quebec in general. Three different student organizations have taken the lead in organizing the protest where 170,000 students are currently boycotting classes. Shrewdly they have adopted the color red for their activity, symbolizing debt (“going in the red,” obviously – brilliant!) and the color enlivens all of their activity. According to yesterday’s news the government and the students are still miles apart but entering discussions of sorts with the large demonstration looming ahead this weekend. Quebec Premier Jean Charest has also refused to meet with CLASSE, the largest of the striking student groups, by trying to claim that they have encouraged vandalism and violence, essentially the standard response in trying to reframe the government’s position to tactics rather than substance to distract the public from the tuition increase.