AVEQ and UEQ Are Here to Represent Quebec Students
Two New Provincial Reps Aiming to Fill FEUQ’s Void
The provincial student organization Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ) has been dormant since the summer, and two organizations are primed to take its place.
The Union étudiante du Québec (UEQ) and Association for the Voice of Education in Quebec (AVEQ) will join the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSE) as the major student representatives in provincial politics.
Disagreements that started last semester and continued throughout the summer led to the conception of the two organizations.
“Provincial student representation is essential—without it—it would just sound like incoherent discourse,” CSU President Terry Wilkings said.
Executives of the Concordia Student Union (CSU) currently sit in both of the new organizations’ meetings, but are in favour of formally joining AVEQ.
“Education is decided at the provincial level,” said Emily Boytinck, VP External of Students’ Society of McGill Society. “Individually, I can’t lobby the government and neither can individual student associations.”
With FEUQ largely dormant since Université de Montréal students voted to leave it in March, Quebec provincial student representation has been limited to ASSÉ. The CSU is still legally affiliated with FEUQ despite it not collecting money or having an executive team. FEUQ represents a total of 80,000 Quebec undergraduate students, including Concordia’s 35,000 undergraduates.
A Projet pour le mouvement étudiant (PPME) was formally set up last semester so multiple Quebec student associations could talk about how to replace the FEUQ. One faction from the discussions eventually split to form AVEQ.
Jonathan Mooney, one of the five coordinators currently operating UEQ, said that the main difference between AVEQ and UEQ is their voting systems. AVEQ employs a “one association, one vote” system, according to Wilkings. UEQ, however, will use a “double majority system,” Mooney said.
It’s a two-part system, he explains. For a motion to pass, a majority of the associations—each with one vote—must first vote in favour of it. If this stipulation is met, then it must pass on a “semi-proportional” basis. This second count will consider that associations with a larger student population will have more votes than the smaller ones.
This system takes into account that some Quebec student associations represent more students, which will ultimately find better consensus amongst all constituents, he added.
10 associations have joined UEQ, according to Mooney. The Fédération des associations étudiantes du campus de l’Université de Montréal (FAECUM)—which left FEUQ in March and represents 40,000 students—and the Confédération des Associations D’Étudiants et Étudiantes de Université Laval are two of the associations that joined UEQ.
UEQ is asking for a fee-levy of $4.50 per student from their associations’ students. They plan to grow from five coordinators to 10, according to Mooney. AVEQ will ask for $2.50 per student, according to Boytinck. She said that AVEQ will have six executives, and the team sizes are main factors in the cost difference.
CSU and SSMU Support AVEQ
At a council session Wednesday, CSU executives explained to councillors that they’re in favour of joining AVEQ due to its equal voting system, promotion of bilingualism and mission values.
Wilkings believes that AVEQ is better connected within activist movements—such as resisting the construction of transnational oil pipelines—than UEQ.
He said the eventual AVEQ faction left PPME because they thought discussions were recreating the problematic factionalism within FEUQ. UEQ’s voting system will continue FEUQ’s trend of neglecting schools with lower student populations, he added.
Wilkings doesn’t think three organizations would make student politics too complicated. Boytinck said having a third alternative option is important for McGill because of FEUQ and ASSÉ’s past political polarization.
“Plurality is ultimately what’s necessary,” Wilkings said.
Correction: In a previous iteration of the story, it stated that UEQ and AVEQ were asking for a fee-levy per class credit. The Link regrets the error. In addition, Mooney provided additional clarity on the “double majority” voting system, and the article reflects those changes.
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