Teachin’ about Austerity
Concordia Students Join Together in Teach-In to Fight Austerity
Members of the recently mobilized Solidarity Concordia want to bring political activism to students by connecting different Concordia student groups for a weeklong conference on anti-austerity projects at the beginning of February.
Across the province, groups are criticizing the cuts by the Liberal government that will affect public sector job security and curb public spending. The last months have seen union workers in Quebec take to the streets to voice their opposition.
Now, Solidarity Concordia is setting up a teach-in and says it’s time for students to organize. A teach-in is a spin on a regular conference, used to organize political action.
“We want to build a movement against austerity, in provision in the build up for a general strike at Concordia,” said Myriam Tardif, one of the teach-in organizers.
Solidarity Concordia chose to hold a teach-in so people can “share skills, meet each other and build bridges between their own struggles at Concordia,” added Tardif.
Events will run from Feb. 2 to Feb. 6, starting with a radical walking tour of Concordia. Tuesday afternoon’s program will feature a panel on the history of the student movement in Quebec since 1996, ending with a collective discussion/panel about the Concordia 2012 strike, direct democracy and a discussion on the upcoming 2015 strike and Concordia’s role in the coming months. Thursday’s program will focus on how austerity measures are linked with environmental activism with a panel consisting of participants from Climate Justice Montreal and the Concordia Food Coalition.
For Solidarity Concordia, skill building is key to the teach-in. It’s an opportunity to build bridges between communities, but also to let people know that austerity policy measures are not finite, said teach-in organizer Anas Bouslikhane.
“We can respond and we are able to do that and here are some possibilities, knowledge and some tools to work with,” he continued.
Saturday’s workshops will range from Graphics 101 and Media Training, to Mobilization 101, Organizing Demos and Action 101.
The teach-in organizers were seeking input through a call-out last week, especially since the idea for the conference came from community members themselves. The ideals of direct democracy and equality are key to this movement, according to Tardif.
“Together we can teach each other so that we can build connections,” said Tardif. “We do believe that it’s not only the executives of the group that have the power of the direction of a movement, but that everyone can join together.”
The first teach-in was held in opposition to the US occupation of Vietnam in 1965 at the University of Michigan. It encouraged audience participation and equal dialogue between organizers and participants. With a focus on participatory democracy, teach-ins are not held to a specific theme, and the conversation generated can be unpredictable.
“We’re looking to have it as wide as possible, reach as many different communities—maybe racialized, marginalized, any language background,” Bouslikhane added. “For me, there’s an effort that it should be as open as possible.”
The teach-in is open to all Concordia community members and is free of charge.
Schedules and workshops listed in this article are subject to change.
_For more information on Solidarity Concordia’s future and past events visit http://solidarityconcordia.org
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