How to Keep Friends and Not Alienate People

Five Secrets of Highly Successful Strikers

Graphic by Eric Bent

These are troubling times, my friends.

Brother is fighting sister. Babies are making babies. The lion is laying down with the lamb. In short, I’m talking about the issue of tuition hikes.

The cloud that was looming over the semester broke open a bit last week, and I’m not just referring to the torrential rain that washed the blood and red felt patches off the streets Thursday night.

Wednesday was the Concordia Student Union’s General Assembly on the strike—and a massive student protest that ended in multiple arrests and a possible eye-loss, in one case. Next week, on March 15, a one-week general strike will kick off.

In these new and confusing times, we will have to draw up new guidelines for how best to live our lives. Specifically the main problem, as I see it, is that now you have to confront the issue of how to deal with friends of yours that don’t see eye-to-eye with you on the subject of hikes, and strikes.

With that in mind, here are five secrets of highly successful strikers—whether they’re on strike against their will, despite not having attended the GA to vote against it, or whether they’re on the treating the picket line like the front, replete with WWI-era headgear and WWI-era hygiene.

1) Are you in fine arts, the department, but don’t share your sistren and brethen’s pro-strike attitude—you just want to get your degree and get outta there? Don’t sweat it.

A fine arts degree doesn’t really mean anything, anyway. The point of a program like that is to be in an environment that will fuel your creative juices and smell permanently of patchouli, incense and weed. If you’ve been through three or more years of the program already, technically you’ve passed! The diploma is just a tool of the man.

2) Are you a John Molson School of Bla Bla BlackBerry student? Do you wear a suit to school and aren’t concerned with Jean Charest trying to steal your little brother’s lunch money?

Good news! Starting on the 14th, all of Concordia is on strike. This means a lot of free time for a lot of poor students—creating overnight a sizable potential workforce.

This could be the time to start that start-up business venture you’ve been thinking about… but beware! The strike is only a week long, and depending on the vote, it may not go past that, so don’t be afraid to be liberal with the fine-print clauses regarding early termination.

3) Are you at lunch with a bunch of buddies, when someone loudly voices a very nasal, uninformed opinion about the strikes that you find offensive? Now’s a good time to make with the platitudes.

Find creative ways to compliment someone’s felt square—whether green or red—and tell them that it really sets off their eyes.

Point out that, no matter what tuition is like, we all wish we had more money for mocha frappucinos, and no matter what the strikes are like, they can be a great place to meet cute protesters—nothing adds a little spark in the sack like strong political views!

4) Lots of social things happen mostly—or exclusively—online, these days. This carries over to awkward arguments about tuition.

Maybe your news feed is choked by huffy people protesting one way or another; maybe you’re getting tweeted at by hashtag-wielding morons; maybe you keep hearing about Canada Gooses and you don’t know what Branta canadensis has to do with Quebec tuition rates; maybe that guy you haven’t been in touch with since you ignored him in high school is all self-righteous on your Concordia University Memes post.

There’s one, great, catch-all policy for this—post photos of cute animals. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace if you still have one; heck, even YouTube allows for slideshow vids. Just make sure to set it to “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day.

5) On strike? Don’t know what to do with your free time? Have you considered part-time employment? Word on the street is that some local business ventures will be popping up in the Concordia area in the near future…