GUSS: On Strike

Geography, Environment Students Vote Yes for No Class

Members of GUSS listen intently during their General Assembly Monday afternoon. Photo by David Murphy

The Geography Undergrad Student Society is keeping strong with its strike tactics as it passed a motion to continue striking until the Concordia Student Union starts its general strike action March 15.

GUSS had its General Assembly on Tuesday afternoon, which drew 100 people and lasted four hours. Of the department, which represents geography and environmental studies students, 64 voted for the strike and 32 against it with 4 abstentions.

“I’m just really happy with the way the process went down. There were 100 people in the room, [it’s] quite a contentious issue and there was no bickering back and forth. Everyone was really respectful,” said GUSS President Andrew Roberts.

The department voted that students are not to carry out assignments, but encouraged alternative, peer facilitated learning outside the classroom. Preventing others from entering classrooms will also be continued.

This comes after department head Dr. David Greene’s threatening letter to GUSS, the Urban Planning Association and Geo Grads students caught blocking people from classrooms with the repercussions of possible explosion.

Not everyone was pleased with the process, however.

“We, ourselves, are a group of people that want to go to class,” said Emmanuelle Galeotti, who’s graduating this year, she hopes. “We think we can be more creative than just doing the strike the old way and blocking others from going to class.”

“We were hoping to get a compromise so we could go to class, but we didn’t add it,” she said. “I feel a little insulted right now.”

There was a compromise to the strike question during the discussion period, which suggested students should be allowed to go to class but not allowed to submit any assignments, or do anything for marks. This, however, was voted down quite heavily.

And although Roberts maintains the assembly was peaceful and very democratic, it seems that hostility may be found elsewhere in the department.

According to geography student Phil Viau, there was an incident that occurred in his population geography class. Picketers tried, unsuccessfully, to block students from going into class but things got ugly.

“There was a picket line, there was a teacher willing to teach, and six students willing to learn,” said Viau.

The six students decided to break the picket line and the teacher followed suit, entering the class—but so did the five picketers.

“One of the students that was anti-strike, he just basically exploded in front of [the strikers]. It was a good three, four minutes, he just basically forced them out of the classroom.

“It was kind of a scary thing that they had to deal with,” he said. “Maybe he’s from another culture where education is so cherished that to have people blocking him in front of a classroom is absolutely, totally unacceptable. Which I agree with, I just wouldn’t have used that tone.”

“That’s not the kind of environment that I think I deserve to be exposed to.”

Erica Macerolle is in support of the strike and agrees the GA was carried out smoothly, and that everyone that wanted a chance to speak got it. But she, too, agrees there is some turmoil accompanying the strike.

“It’s not incredibly fun, the strike. It brings up a lot of confrontations,” said the 21-year-old geography major. “It’s not necessarily that I have to be involved in, I just think that it’s necessary. Which is why I’m actively taking part in it, for the sake of our society.”