High tuition is not an economic necessity, as is easy to show, but a debt trap is a good technique of indoctrination and control. -Professor Noam Chomsky, in a letter to a Concordia Student
Over the last two months nearly 300,000 students have gone on strike for some period of time to fight the tuition hikes and the plan to massively privatize the public university system in Quebec. Queers and feminists are on the front lines, standing loud and proud shoulder to shoulder with other students to end the assault on public education by the Liberal government.
(Photo Credit: Samuel Kühn)
According to QuebecTuitionFees.ca, Tuition fees in Quebec will increase by $325 more every year for the next five years, starting in the Fall semester of 2012 going until 2016-2017. The total tuition bill, including mandatory institutional fees, will go from $2,890 to $4,700 per year.
These efforts of the Charest government to privatize university funding in Quebec have sparked widespread protests. Over 300,000 students are now on strike, demonstrating daily, occupying colleges, universities and civic spaces throughout Quebec. The students are joined in legion by university faculty, student groups, labor unions, social movements, community groups and citizens across the province and throughout Canada.
The students on strike are at the forefront of an important struggle over public education and its role in Quebec society. Issues of economic class disproportionately affect other marginalized communities that face social and economic disadvantages. Tuition hikes will further marginalize those with fewer resources by creating a class-privileged and more homogenous student body.
While tuition fees for university education have increased across Canada, the quality of education has decreased. A disproportionate share of the new income generated by increased tuition fees has been used not to maintain quality within the university, but to expand its central bureaucracy. The students on strike refuse to absorb the skyrocketing costs of propping up an inefficient administration.
The students not only take issue with proposed tuition hikes, but also the shift towards the privatization of post-secondary education more broadly. Private funding from banks and corporations comes with stipulations and is often designated only for programs that will produce workers for their own corporate interests. Students are not simply consumers and education is not merely a service.
The students on strike reject the right-wing measures of the Charest government. The students on strike will defeat the Charest government and their proposed tuition hikes. They will defeat the Charest government upon the grounds of each college and university in Quebec. They will defeat them in the public sphere through unlimited strike and a rigorously organized display of constant demonstrations throughout the province. There have been daily marches and disruptions since over 200,000 people turned out in the streets of downtown Montreal on March 22nd to show their solidarity to the students.
The students on strike are in solidarity with the wider Occupy movements, in recognition of the struggle against corporate interests and big banks, against a police state, against apathy, against the gradual diminishing of citizen engagement in the public sphere. They are against life-long debt as a method of indoctrination and control.
We call on you to join us.
Quebec Students on Strike!