Activists Launch Copycat Website
Web Parody Undermines Gov’t’s Pro-Tuition Hike Message
Student activists have taken to more than just the streets in their efforts to halt tuition hikes.
An unknown group of rabble-rousers have created an anti-tuition-hike website nearly identical to the Charest government’s pro-tuition-hike site.
The original website, quebectuitionfees.com, was launched on the Nov. 10 Day of Action in an effort to counter the growing voices of dissent against the government’s plan.
The website states that increasing tuition will help “ensure the quality of teaching and research and contribute to maintaining the value of a university degree.”
According to Concordia Student Union President Lex Gill, the Charest government spent $50,000 on Google keywords like “CSU” and “FEUQ” so that their website would be the first result in a Google search.
Gill called this “astroturfing at its finest,” and was encouraged by the government’s website, saying it’s a sign they’re losing the battle for increased tuition fees.
“Trying to outsmart young people with technology is always a failed venture, and I don’t think this was any different,” she said.
Within 24 hours of the launch of the original site, an unidentified group launched their own website, which includes information on fighting the tuition fee increases. The parody site has the same URL but with a .ca domain extension.
Mathieu Le Blanc, the press officer for the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec, said that “[FEUQ is] not involved in [the parody website].”
Neither FEUQ President Martine Desjardins nor the office of the Ministry of Education returned phone calls looking for comment.
Visit quebectuitionfees.ca for more information about the fight over tuition hikes.