Editorial: Striking in Solidarity

In October 2023, Quebec Premier François Legault and Minister of Higher Education Pascale Déry announced that tuition rates for out-of-province and international students attending anglophone universities would be drastically raised.

In response, hundreds of students at Concordia and McGill University mobilized and began organizing protests, demanding the province rescind its plans to make tuition an even higher barrier for those seeking a university education.

One month into 2024, the province’s gatekeeping has not been put to an end. While the Coalition Avenir Québec’s (CAQ) initial raised rate of $17,000 annually for out-of-province students was eventually reduced to $12,000, the issue is that the number prior to the announcement of the hikes was set at approximately $9,000. Students are being asked to shell out thousands of additional dollars because of Legault’s anti-anglophone and allophone agenda.

As much as protesting is an effective means of change-making, the clock is ticking before students will be forced to pay these new rates. In response, student representatives have taken matters into their own hands.

For three days, a strike will take place on campus in order to pressure the government into acting. Thousands of students will be on strike from their classes from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2. 

Why strike? In Quebec, universities are public and receive subsidies from the government on top of the tuition collected from students. When you attend school, you’re paying a portion while the province pays another. When we skip class in solidarity with our out-of-province and international classmates, we cause the government to lose money. This is Legault’s worst nightmare.

Not all students are going on strike, however. Only those from specific student associations whose elected representatives have called general assemblies and passed a strike motion will be participating. 

At time of writing, they are the Fine Arts Student Alliance, Geography Undergraduate Student Society, School of Community and Public Affairs Student Association, Urban Planning Association, Science College Student Association, Concordia Undergraduate Biochemistry, Chemistry and Physics Society (CUBCAPS), Women's Studies and Sexuality Studies Student Association, Concordia Association for Students in English and Students of History at Concordia.

Despite not yet having passed strike motions, the following associations have called general assemblies where a strike motion will be on the table: Concordia University Economics Student Society, Sociology and Anthropology Student Union and Political Science Student Association.

If you do not see your association on this list and want to pressure the government into reducing its discriminatory tuition hike, contact your association immediately and request their take action.

Obviously, three days of striking will not solve anything. Sources close to The Link involved in student politics have confirmed that a prolonged strike could be a possibility in the very near future, giving associations who did not stand with students the first time to redeem themselves. 

The Link endorses striking as a means of putting an end to price-gouging students whose gravest sin was not being born in Quebec. Tuition rates are already high as is, and the CAQ’s stunt is a slap in the face to anyone wishing to pursue higher education. Students deserve better and we are willing to fight for it.

This article originally appeared in Volume 44, Issue 9, published January 30, 2024.