Another Day, Another GA: Four New Associations Vote for Strike

Four More Student Associations Voted for a Fall Reading Week Strike on Sept. 19

Liberal Arts students gather in the RR lounge to vote on their strike motion. Photo Zachary Fortier

On Sept. 19, students in communications, liberal arts, psychology, neuroscience, women’s studies and sexuality studies voted to strike for a fall reading week.

There have been 10 student associations’ general assemblies during which students have successfully passed strike motions. More strike votes will take place next week as groups within the Arts and Science Federation of Associations gear up for their respective GAs.

COMS Guild General Assembly

The ​​Communication Studies Undergraduate Student Association started the day bright and early, opting to hold its general assembly at 11:45 a.m. in the Communications Studies and Journalism building at the Loyola campus.

Approximately 20 students met in the CJ building’s auditorium to discuss the strike motion, along with other routine business. The meeting was over in about 40 minutes, making it one of the shortest GAs to take place this year.

One student in particular was more than eager to vote for the strike motion, motioning to shorten the question period and move directly into a vote. Exemptions to the strike were made for students currently in an internship or co-op program.

COMS Guild President Marie-Luce Ward reassured students who had questions about the specifics of the strike. “Since nobody is showing up, nobody can get penalized. If there’s a teacher that has a problem with that, we will have a discussion with them,” she said.

Ward criticized the Concordia administration’s desire to spend the Fall 2022 semester raising awareness for the fall 2023 reading week. “Do you really need to raise awareness for a reading week? I think a whole lot of us would be glad to simply have it,” she said. “We’re banking on you to not cross the picket line.”

Eighteen students voted for the fall reading week strike, while three voted against it. Communications students will be joining the growing list of associations on strike.

LAS General Assembly

From their lavishly styled lounge in the RR Annex downtown, students in the Liberal Arts Society gathered for their GA. At 4:30 p.m., nearly three dozen students showed up to cast their votes.

“In 2019, we unanimously voted for a fall reading week, but they haven’t done anything. I don’t want to graduate before anything actually changes,” said External Coordinator Jessica Fragias. 

Students debated the logistics of the strike, opting to organize various picketing strategies to last them the entire fall reading week. A large percentage of attendees were first-year students eager to participate in student politics.

LAS General Coordinator So Young Park helped boost the room’s morale, keeping the energy lively through readings of long motions. She expressively cheered on her fellow executives as they gave their respective presentations.

After light debating and back-and-forth between students and executives, it was time to vote. Thirty-four students voted in favour of the fall reading week strike, with zero opposition or abstentions.

This makes LAS the largest student body to vote unanimously in favour of the strike, beating out the Urban Planning Association’s vote on Aug. 15. Liberal Arts students’ classes will be cancelled as they join the strike.

CUPA General Assembly

The Concordia Undergraduate Psychology Association moved at lightning speed during its virtual general assembly at 6:00 p.m.. Over 40 psychology students joined the Zoom call.

Unlike other GAs, CUPA’s executive team was able to fill its empty executive positions without pause. Existing executive members, such as President Christina Matos, had been able to recruit members beforehand, facilitating the election process.

Once positions were filled and presentations were given, students moved in on the fall reading week strike motion. Chairing the assembly was Ariella Pardo, vice-president of academic affairs in the Teaching English as a Second Language Student Association.

Pardo helped guide skeptical students and answer their questions about the strike. “Concordia already has plans to implement the fall reading week. The university is only putting it in place to allow professors to adjust curriculum plans. We are [one of the only universities] in Montreal to not have a fall reading week,” she said.

One student was concerned about whether or not penalties would take place as a result of the motion. Pardo responded, “if you submit an assignment, for example, you cannot be penalized for striking. Go see your VP Academic, who will make sure teachers respect your right to strike.”

After a couple of rounds worth of questions, students were ready to cast their votes. Overall, 32 students voted in favour of the motion, six voted against it, and three abstained. Psychology students will be joining the other associations on strike for a fall reading week in October.

WSSSA General Assembly

The Women’s and Sexuality Studies Student Association had its general assembly on Sept. 19 at 7:00 p.m.. Motions for rules in the WSSSA student lounge, the climate strike on Sept. 23, and the reading week strike from Oct. 3-7 all passed during the assembly. 

Concerns regarding the strikes were discussed; however, no vote was taken against any of the motions presented. 

Student-at-large Daniel McAlear asked, “if the English department does strike, I have a class that is in a Minecraft server. With no actual class other than in that server. Would I be able to still go onto that server? Or would that not be allowed?”

Another student, Rosie McDonald answered, “if that's where your projects are being worked on, then I think it makes sense to keep signing in.”

The motion for student lounge rules passed unanimously with 24 votes, and the climate strike as well as the reading week strike both received two abstentions and 22 votes in favour.

Mobilization Coordinator Carla Jamet-Lange emphasized the importance of the reading week strike and its implications for student mental health.

“The past few years have been incredibly difficult for everyone, especially students, with everything going online, social isolation, being afraid to go back to school, it’s been a lot on our mental health,” said Jamet-Lange. “Concordia’s not really been helpful at all, turning people away from mental health services, we want to raise awareness of the fact that they are failing us on these services. A fall reading week would alleviate a lot of stress and give people the opportunity to focus on their mental health.”