From the Perspective of a Liberal Arts Student

Concordia Should Protest En Masse to Effectively Protest Austerity Measures

Photo Nik Litzenberger

In the fall of 2014, the Quebec government announced their plan to cut $18 million from Concordia’s budget. This has affected the quality of every Concordian student’s education by creating larger class sizes, making fewer TA positions available and allowing the university to employ less staff overall.
In response, the Liberal Arts Society held a motion to strike on Oct. 15. The motion passed, and now the faculty will strike against the implemented austerity measures until Nov. 8.

The general feeling at the Liberal Arts College is that striking is mostly an annoyance, although the consensus seems to be pro-strike. Much like last year, we have collectively agreed to not attend classes; we will be peaceful and respectful.

The fact of the matter is that austerity measures are bad for the government’s budget in the long term. While many countries find success in providing their citizens with free post-secondary education, it seems ignorant of the Quebec government to implement budget cuts.

When you allow more citizens access to a post-secondary education, the workforce builds in value and creates an influx of higher paying careers, which ultimately results in a higher tax collection rate. It doesn’t take an expert to realize that a poorly educated population will have more problems acquiring a higher rate of income—which would make them pay higher income taxes and contribute more to the economy—than a highly educated one.

To succeed in making a difference, the whole university must participate in the strike long-term. A select group of students missing a week or two of classes, while the rest of the university carries on as normal, is insignificant compared to a totally united front against austerity.

As someone who loves free food and social gatherings, the strike is an especially enjoyable time for me, as the LAS has blessed us with a week full of activities. Also included is the whole “stop-taking-away-our-money-please” thing, but it’s mostly hidden under a cloak of organized events that promise to keep me busy learning and protesting against austerity.

“The fact of the matter is that austerity measures are bad for the government’s budget in the long term.”

Some of the more serious activities include presentations on topics of all varieties, from safe striking manners to land rights of indigenous communities. There will also be study groups for all classes.

I admit that initially, I was less than informed. I chose to not attend any information events, any discussions, and the whole austerity movement was foreign to me. I was ignoring the problem with hopes that it would magically fix itself, but now I know that participation is key in creating change. Being a Concordian student is hard work, and no one is pretending that it’s easy to stay informed on all the political matters that may directly or indirectly affect us—it isn’t. However, the first step to creating a more progressive province is being informed about government action, and stepping up against what shouldn’t be.

The strike will be beneficial for the students of Concordia. This is not just because of the effects it will (hopefully) have on austerity measures, but also because it offers the opportunity to educate the student body about what is going on—how it affects us now, and how it will in the future. The Liberal Arts College has turned the Quebec government’s austerity measures into a happy gathering of students, learning how to make a positive impact on our society in the long term.

On top of all these great things, the lack of classes has allowed the hardworking Liberal Arts College students to take some time off, and celebrate Halloween to it’s fullest extent.