All You Need Is WHALE
Students Stage “Flash Love-In” for Accessible Education
A group of students gathered in the Hall Building lobby on Monday, donning sparkly red hats and feathered boas, passing out Valentines and flyers as part of a “Flash Love-In.” When the clock struck twelve, the twenty-odd students linked arms, sat down together and sang that classic Beatles tune, “All You Need is Love.”
This romantic showmanship was staged in preparation for the student day of action taking place next Monday, Feb. 14 at 11:30 a.m.—otherwise known as Valentines’ Day—on the Reggie’s terrace.
Dubbed the “Wintery Hot Accessible Love-In for Education,” or WHALE, the event hopes to call attention to the forthcoming tuition increases—set to double over the next four years—as well as to send a strong message to the university’s Board of Governors, who have not addressed the nearly unanimous call for transparency and a vote of non-confidence by students and staff since dismissing President Judith Woodsworth before Christmas.
“It’s all about love,” said Concordia student Alex Matak. “It’s going to be a really strong show of student empowerment. […] This is a pretty unique issue because no matter who you are or what your personal politics or perspectives may be, [tuition increases] are something that’s going to affect you and your future.”
Lamenting the very real restrictions that come with inaccessible education—namely a lack of diversity in classrooms and youth being unable to make it in the professional world—Matak stressed that “whether or not you’re personally affected in your degree, you’re going to see the effects of these increases in five or 10 years, when your cousins or children can’t afford to go to university.”
In a time when the Quebec student debt upon graduation has reached an average of $28,000, the drop in university enrollment as a result of the impending tuition increases is slated at approximately 6,000 students, according to the Concordia Student Union.
The biggest challenges facing WHALE organizers, however, is getting enough students out to the Reggie’s terrace to ensure the special general meeting reaches quorum. For this to happen, the CSU currently requires 2.5 per cent of the student population—roughly 850 students—to guarantee the motions put forward at the meeting are legally binding.
Though the number may seem steep, Graduate Student Association Councillor and Free Education Montreal volunteer Rushdia Mehreen is optimistic about the anticipated turnout. In her visits to classrooms since last Wednesday, Mehreen said that more and more students are becoming aware of the impending fee hikes.
“As soon as you give [students] the information and let them know what they have to fight for, they’re very receptive,” she said. “We’re working very hard to mobilize everybody.”
For more information on the WHALE, visit concordiastudents.ca
This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 31, Issue 22, published February 8, 2011.