Fine Arts Vote to Strike First

Students to Protest on March 23 and April 2

Fine Arts students held a general assembly to vote to strike on March 12, 2015. Photo Jonathan Cook

The Fine Arts Student Alliance voted to strike in protest against austerity on March 23 and April 2 at a general assembly Thursday night.

The final motion passed after two amendments. An original proposal of a weeklong strike was shortened to one day and then was changed again to include a strike on March 23, in order to coincide with other student groups in the city.

The main contention against holding a weeklong strike was its feasibility. Groundwork to assemble picketing lines in front of classrooms and mobilize students into the streets hasn’t begun, Marion Miller told the assembly. She added that an organized, one-day strike could be more powerful.

Concordia’s Sociology and Anthropology Graduate Student Association also voted to strike on Thursday.

The Concordia Student Union will support FASA and possibly other student groups on the picket lines, according to CSU President Benjamin Prunty.

“A true strike does require the actual stoppage of classes,” he said.

In a by-election last semester, students voted for the CSU to formally take a stance against austerity, and Prunty says supporting any group that votes to strike is part of its mandate.

Students from philosophy, political science and liberal arts, as well as the School of Community and Public Affairs, will be voting on whether or not to strike in the next few weeks.

On Monday, the Political Science Student Association held a general assembly where a motion to strike came forward, but it was postponed until March 23 for the potential of a larger turnout.

More than 30,000 students from over 25 student organizations will be on strike as of March 23, according to the Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante (ASSÉ).

According to the Printemps 2015 website that number is even higher. Another 11,000 students from faculties across Quebec have voted to strike on individual days, including March 23, March 30 and April 2.

Most of the strike votes have happened at UQAM, Université de Montréal, Université de Laval in Quebec City and UQAC in Chicoutimi. There are also more than 100,000 people that will be consulted in the next few weeks at universities and CEGEPs across the province.

“The goal is to build a larger and stronger student movement that goes beyond student issues,” said ASSÉ spokesperson Camille Godbout. “We’re going to see more than just students going to the streets.”

Strikes have already taken place in the last few months to denounce cuts to social programs, as well as to education that resulted in over $16 million in reduced funding to Concordia.

“The increased number of students on strike is an immense indicator of the indignation of the students,” said Jonathan Bouchard, President of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ).

Students have already protested beside labour unions and community groups, working with union-led movements like Refusons L’austerite and student-led initiatives such as Printemps 2015.

“There’s no competition in our mobilizations, and we do present a united front against the austerity measures,” said Bouchard about working with groups like ASSÉ and FEUQ’s collegial counterparts, the FECQ.

The strike is expected to launch on March 21 with a demonstration at Place Émilie Gamelin and other protests that have already been announced by ASSÉ for April 2 and May 1.

Right now all eyes are on the new budget, which will be tabled on March 26. The student groups say they are prepared to increase “pressure” if needed.