1,000 Red Balloons Go By

CSU Floats Tuition Hike Protest Into Hall Building

Photo Julia Wolfe

Wednesday was a bad day to be globophobic, as the Concordia Student Union—in collaboration with the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec—released 1,000 red balloons in the Hall Building.
The stunt was a protest against the proposed $1,625 tuition fee increase proposed by the provincial government.

This demonstration was for “International students and students from out of province who will either have to sacrifice a year of study or go study somewhere else,” said CSU VP External Affairs Chad Walcott.

[Our message] to Jean Charest, is that WINTER IS COMING.”
–Chad W

“[Our message] to Jean Charest,” he said, quoting the hit HBO show Game of Thrones’s ominous tagline, “is that winter is coming.”

The red balloons, all attached to messages relating to tuition hikes, floated to the ceiling of the Hall Building lobby.

Each balloon represented 30 students who would not be able to afford to attend post-secondary education in Quebec if the tuition increases go through—totaling 30,000 students.

“The bottom line here is that education is a right, people have a right to be on this campus, to study, to learn and engage. Increases to tuition fees directly prevent that from happening,” said CSU President Lex Gill.

This event also marked the launch of an organized campaign against tuition hikes. There is currently a petition circulating that is asking the Senate and Provost for academic amnesty on Nov. 10, which has been designated as a province-wide day of action against tuition hikes in Quebec.

The balloon demonstration occurred less than two hours after student representatives walked out of the Board of Governors meeting as a protest against cuts to student representation.

CSU Board representative Cameron Monagle sees a connection between the two events.

“It’s indicative of the fact that this is a larger issue. These are the people—this Board of Governors now robbed of student representation—who are going to be deciding whether to implement these tuition hikes,” said Monagle. “When students are taken away from that table, it removes that component of the dialogue completely. So yes, these [look like] separate issues, but they aren’t really.”

Monagle’s fellow Board rep Laura Beach also voiced her desire for the success of the Nov. 10 Day of Action.

“I hope that students will get informed on this issue and I hope that students will come out to this protest on Nov. 10 and I hope that they will continue to be active on issues of student representation on the Board of Governors,” said Beach.

Gill dismissed the question of the tuition hike going through by simply saying, “Failure is not an option.”