This is a Picket Line at Loyola Campus

This afternoon, an enthusiastic group of BA, MA and PhD students from Concordia University’s Department of Communications Studies held a picket line at the southeast door of the CJ Building at the Loyola campus. Many of the department’s faculty lent their support to the action. The purpose of the picket line was to maintain a strike presence on the Loyola Campus, to create placards and banners for the mass tomorrow’s mass demonstration, to feed our camaraderie and strengthen our solidarity. It was also a space to meet with passersby from different departments and other faculties by offering them red felt squares, information flyers and an affable opportunity for conversation. Strikes do not only foment divisions, they also provide opportunities for dialogue where dialogue would not otherwise present itself.

The southeast entrance to Loyola's CJ Building and the "Charrêt" stop sign that reminds students of the strike. 2012 © Eduardo Fuenmayor.

“Would you like a red square?” received mixed responses. Some students and professors responded sharply to my proposal with a “No thanks!” Others wouldn’t look me in the eye maybe from fear of a confrontation. One student turned to me as she rushed past my outstretched offering of red felt and a safety pin, and snapped, “I have the right to my education too!!” Maybe she blamed me for missing a class tomorrow after the university administration’s decision to lock down both campuses for the entire day of the mass demonstration. Dialogue did not come easy with everyone. These are representations of the divisiveness that strikes are known for.

One figure in "The Emergence of the Chief" sculpture by David McGary donned the symbol of student solidarity for maintaining accessible education. 2012 © Eduardo Fuenmayor.

One student seemed unaware of the strike, whose intensity had not really reached the Loyola Campus. How is this possible I thought to myself, wondering if it was plausible that a student from UQAM or Université de Montréal could be unaware of the student strike. I doubt it. The difference in media coverage of the student strike between anglophone and francophone media has manifest differences, which could explain the cluelessness.

The southeast entrance to Loyola's CJ Building and its festive picket. 2012 © Eduardo Fuenmayor.

Two students from Exercise Science responded to my offer with a “yes, why not”, to which I replied do you know what this red square is a symbol of?” They didn’t. I explained that in 2005, when the Québec government decided to take $103 million from the student bursary purse and transfer it to loans, students were incensed! Actually they were mad as hell because without bursaries, they would end up “squarely in the red” (a translation of carrément dans le rouge). Indebted to the hilt. Red square… debt… get it?! These two guys were interested in the history of the Québec student movement that has fought periodically for decades to maintain low tuition in support of accessible education. I continued.

One student on the picket line drinks tea in the unseasonably hot 25 degrees Celcius. 2012 © Eduardo Fuenmayor.

The most common argument in support of tuition increases is that Québec tuition rates are the lowest in Canada. That’s exactly the point because Québec society made that decision decades ago to keep education accessible. The Charest government drones on about students paying their fair share. Québecois pay among the highest income and sales tax in North America because we want accessible education as a collective social project. Before stating that universities are underfunded because of the low tuition fees, critics should look at where the current government is allocating public funds. Consider one example from yesterday’s provincial budget: a $332 million grant in public funds is made available to extend route 167 so that the mining corporation, Stornoway Diamonds, can access its future mine. Stornoway is only paying a franctional $44 million for the construction of a permanent road that leads nowhere else than its future mine. Why are Québécois residents subsidizing this corporation to extract a non-essential mineral from public land?! Would this money not be better spent on education or healthcare or anywhere else with longterm benefits for Québec citizens?

This is our picket line, soft as chalk on pavement. Cross it and have a conversation. 2012 © Eduardo Fuenmayor.

In the end, neither of the two students accepted a red felt square. They weren’t yet ready to show support for the student strike. But that’s OK because the strike gave us an opportunity to chat with one another, across picket lines, borders, faculties, ideologies, divisions. We were both enriched by the exchange. As we parted, I turned and crossed the “soft” picket line drawn on the pavement with coloured chalk. The hive of activity had continued without me. Discussion ebbed and flowed. I was reminded as I glanced toward the tam tam player who was enthusiastically sustaining the heartbeat of the picket. At the beginning of the strike, he recited to our Media Studies cohort a quote by Mark Twain: “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.”

No to tuition hikes! 2012 © Eduardo Fuenmayor.

I realized that that is what I’d been doing all afternoon.

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This is Not an Advertizement! It is Culture, Public but Mostly Jam

This morning, ARTUNG ! offers the people of Montreal more than 300 artworks . Installed in the advertising panels belonging to Pattison, CBS Outdoor and Astral Media, these displays denounce the increase in tuition fees. [click on any red square to see the displays)

Map of Artung!'s reclamation of public space in support of access to education.

“The public space should encourage citizen expression and represent different points of view. Unfortunately, the urban landscape is overrun with advertisements. The commercialization of our living space leaves room for only one message: sell and consume”, according to the co-spokesperson of ARTUNG!, Peggy Faye.

An Artung! intervention with artwork by the Beehive Design Collective.

Last May, 200 advertisements were replaced by artworks to reclaim the public space while at the same time denouncing the lawsuit filed by Pattison, CBS Outdoor and Astral Media against the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough. On September 7, 2010, Mayor Ferrandez’s administration adopted a by law calling for the removal of the 45 panels installed on its territory. Today, although the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough has sent out 86 statements of offense, none of the huge advertising panels has been removed – these companies are therefore acting illegally.

This time, the ARTUNG initiative is coming out in support of the 220 900 students who are presently on strike. Tomorrow the 22 of March, thousands of citizens will fill the public space during a huge national demonstration to oppose the decision of the liberal government to increase tuition fees. This measure impairs the accessibility of education and public services.

“Teaching institutions, like the streets, should be places of dialogue rather than spaces subjected to the economics of the market,” states Pascale Brunet, co-spokesperson of ARTUNG!

Made up of a constellation of citizens of all stripes, ARTUNG! Invites the population to participate in a reflection on the future of our public spaces. Our streets should be a canvas for all communities and not for private companies. Our schools should be places for meeting and debating ideas, and not degree factories.

Photos and a video will be available this morning at : www.cecinestpasunepub.net

____________________________

Ce matin, ARTUNG ! offre plus de 300 oeuvres d’art aux citoyen.ne.s de Montréal. Installées dans des supports publicitaires appartenant à Pattison, CBS Outdoor et Astral Media, ces affiches dénoncent la hausse des frais de scolarité.

« L’espace public devrait encourager l’expression citoyenne et représenter différents points de vue. Malheureusement, le paysage urbain est envahi par les publicités. La commercialisation de notre milieu de vie ne laisse place qu’à un seul message : vendre et consommer » soutient la co-porte-parole d’ARTUNG!, Peggy Faye.

Artung! in support of the student strike against tuition increases.

Rappelons qu’en mai dernier, 200 publicités avaient été remplacées par des oeuvres d’art pour réinvestir l’espace public et condamner la poursuite de Pattison, CBS Outdoor et Astral Media contre l’arrondissement du Plateau-Mont-Royal. En septembre 2010, un règlement imposait le retrait des 45 panneaux publicitaires installés sur le Plateau. Aujourd’hui, bien que 86 constats d’infraction aient été émis par l’arrondissement, aucun de ces immenses panneaux publicitaires n’a été retiré. Ces compagnies ont donc des pratiques illégales.

Cette fois-ci, l’initiative d’ARTUNG vient en appui aux 220 900 étudiant.e s qui sont présentement en grève. Demain le 22 mars, des milliers de citoyen.ne.s investiront l’espace public lors d’une gigantesque manifestation nationale pour s’opposer à la décision du gouvernement libéral de hausser les frais de scolarité. Cette mesure nuit à l’accessibilité aux études en plus de s’inscrire dans une logique de marchandisation de l’éducation et des services publics.

« Les établissements d’enseignement, tout comme les rues, devraient être des lieux de dialogue plutôt que des espaces assujettis à l’économie de marché » a déclaré Pascale Brunet, co-porte-parole d’ARTUNG!

Formé d’une constellation de citoyen.ne.s de tout acabit, ARTUNG! invite la population à participer à une réflexion sur l’avenir de nos espaces publics.

Nos rues devraient être un canevas pour nos communautés et non pour les compagnies privées. Nos écoles devraient être des lieux de rencontres et de débats d’idées et non des usines à diplômes. En matinée, une vidéo et des photos seront disponibles ici :www.cecinestpasunepub.net

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Contact Média Pascale Brunet et Peggy Faye 438-876-7384

Envoyez un courriel à nos ministres!

Voici une petite action simple et rapide. Envoyez un courriel à nos ministres. Il ne suffit que de copier/coller les infos dans un courriel et de l’envoyer.

à: line.beauchamp@mels.gouv.qc.ca

cci : m.blais@aines.gouv.qc.ca, ministre@finances.gouv.qc.ca, ministre.famille@mfa.gouv.qc.ca, ministre@msss.gouv.qc.ca, ministre@mess.gouv.qc.ca, circonscription@mcccf.gouv.qc.ca, ministre.deleguee@msss.gouv.qc.ca

Objet : Ouvrir le dialogue

Chère ministre et membre de l’Assemblée nationale du Québec,

Compte-tenu des 200 000 étudiants en grève au Québec, un record à ce jour dans l’histoire de la province, je vous écris le présent message pour presser Mme la ministre de l’éducation, Mme Line Beauchamp, d’ouvrir le dialogue avec les étudiants. J’estime que le manque d’ouverture et l’entêtement obstiné de la part du gouvernement à n’offrir aucune forme de conciliation, même avec médiation, et le non respect du droit de grève sont de graves atteintes à la réalisation de la démocratie au Québec. Les étudiants ne sont pas des citoyens de seconde classe et le gouvernement doit faire la juste part qui lui revient en négociant avec eux.

En tant que citoyen(ne) du Québec, je tiens également à vous signifier que je suis en faveur d’une éducation libre et accessible. Je suis fermement opposé(e) à la hausse des frais de scolarité car je crois que l’éducation n’est pas un service ou un privilège; elle est un droit. J’encourage le gouvernement à revoir sa position sur la politique du financement des universités et à prendre des mesures concrètes pour en assurer une meilleure gestion. Les différentes associations étudiantes ont plein de propositions justes et équitables pour améliorer la situation tout en s’assurant de l’accessibilité aux études; il ne suffit que de s’asseoir avec eux pour le constater.

Afin de nous assurer un avenir et surtout celui de nos enfants, je vous demande sincèrement de bien vouloir entendre ma requête.

Solidarité,

Pour envoyer un message à Jean Charest :
email form online here / 819 569-5646

ou à d’autres député : http://www.assnat.qc.ca/fr/deputes/index.html#listeDeputes

Listes des députés dans l’envoi :

Line Beauchamp (Ministre dl’Education):line.beauchamp@mels.gouv.qc.ca / 514 328-6006; Marguerite Blais (Ministre responsable des Aînées):m.blais@aines.gouv.qc.ca / 514 933-8796; Raymond Bachand (Ministre des Finances):ministre@finances.gouv.qc.ca / 514 482-0199; Yolande James (Ministre de la Famille):ministre.famille@mfa.gouv.qc.ca / 514 626-1749; Yves Bolduc (Ministre de la santé et des services sociaux):ministre@msss.gouv.qc.ca / 418 682-8167; Julie Boulet (Ministre de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale ): ministre@mess.gouv.qc.ca / 1 800 567-2996; Christine St-Pierre (Ministre de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine):circonscription@mcccf.gouv.qc.ca / 514 337-4278; Dominique Vien (Ministre des services sociaux):ministre.deleguee@msss.gouv.qc.ca / 1 866 504-3294

Collectivity and the Classroom Without Guarantees

Media & Feminist Theory:

Strategy: Collectivities and Situated Knowledges.

by Krista Geneviève Lynes

“Capitalist imperalism is an effort to win the world for calculation” – Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Death of a Discipline, 54.

Politics of Friendship is, in other words, only a book between covers. For the real text, you must enter the classroom, put yourself to school, as a preview of the formation of collectivities. A single ‘teacher’s’ ‘students’, flung out into the world and time, is, incidentally, a real-world example of the precarious continuity of a Marxism ‘to come’, aligned with grassroots counterglobalizing activism in the global South today” —Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Death of a Discipline , 28.

After the funeral procession, students mourn the loss of accessible education due to tuition increases as proposed by the Québec Liberal government. Photo taken in Montréal's Parc Lafontaine, Friday, March 16, 2012 by David Widgington.

As the number of students on strike approaches 270,000 this week, the minister Line Beauchamp declared ‘We’re not in a negotiation. A decision has been made’. The president of CEPAL, Philippe-Olivier Daniel, meanwhile sent a formal notice to student associations to ‘stop infringing on his right to attend classes’.[1] These different standpoints, figured in public discourse as the site of agonism in the public sphere (if not antagonism), figure for us the importance of the question of collectivity, and the relation of collectivity to pedagogy.

The student action would seem to pose the question of collectivity in the demonstrations, strikes and actions, and this is certainly a location for important coalitional work among students, and between students, faculty and the public. But the student’s stakes in the matter also are to preserve another form of collectivity (signalled by the second epigraph above): the collectivity of the classroom itself…

…. Continue reading the essay at Alt-UniEs: an alternative university, an appeal to unity, a commitement to access ….

Family Demonstration March Against Tuition Increases Draws 30,000 Supporters

Students and faculty from Concordia University’s Communications Studies Department march in the streets of Montréal with 30,000 others (according to Le Devoir) in the Family Demonstration March against the Québec government’s proposed tuition increases.

Communications Studies students and faculty are well represented among the 30,000-strong crowd at the March 18, family demonstration. Photo by David Widgington.

students walk down St-Denis street among 30,000 others in the family protest against proposed tuition increases, Mar 18, 2012. Photo by David Widgington.

30,000 protesters in the family demonstration against tuition increases and in support of access to education walk eastward along rue Ste-Catherine past Metro Papineau. Sunday, March 18, 2012. Photo by André Querry © 2012.

Communicating Your Concerns About Tuition Increases to Government Ministers

The Québec government continues to advocate that students will pay their fair share for higher education with the tuition increases, which they rhetorically refer to as an investment towards high salaries in the future.

The report, Do we really need to raise tuition fees? was researched by Éric Martin & Simon-Tremblay-Pépin and produced by the Institut de recherche et d’information socio-économique (IRIS). It provide eight arguments that contradict the rhetoric presented by the Minister of Education Line Beauchamp, Prime Minister Jean Charest and all other government ministers.

We have an opportunity to share this informative report with our elected representatives to help them understand our position. For the sake of persistence, we can send a series of emails to every minister by copy-pasting each of the eight arguments into emails to each of the ministers listed below. One email per argument per minister (8 arguments x 9 ministers = 72 emails OR 8 arguments x 9 cc’ed ministers = 8 emails). These are computational suggestion but any distribution formula is encouraged.

Line Beauchamp (Minister of Education):
line.beauchamp@mels.gouv.qc.ca / 514 328-6006

Marguerite Blais (Minister responsible for seniors / COMS Joint PhD graduate):
m.blais@aines.gouv.qc.ca / 514 933-8796

Raymond Bachand (Minister of Finance):
ministre@finances.gouv.qc.ca / 514 482-0199

Jean Charest (Prime Minister and – ha! – “Minister of Youth Issues”):
email form online here / 819 569-5646

Yolande James (Minister of Families):
ministre.famille@mfa.gouv.qc.ca / 514 626-1749

Yves Bolduc (Minister of Health and Social Services):

ministre@msss.gouv.qc.ca (general email) / 418 682-8167

Julie Boulet (Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity):
ministre@mess.gouv.qc.ca (general email) / 1 800 567-2996

Christine St-Pierre (Minister of Culture, Communications and the Status of Women):
circonscription@mcccf.gouv.qc.ca / 514 337-4278

Dominique Vien (Minister of Social Services):
ministre.deleguee@msss.gouv.qc.ca / 1 866 504-3294

Classes & Activities Cancelled by Concordia Administration Frees Students & Faculty to Participate in Demonstration

Buildings closed and activities cancelled on Loyola and Sir George Williams campuses all of Thursday, March 22, 2012.

The following is a joint statement from the GSA and the CSU:

Earlier today, Concordia University announced that the University will close its doors on 22 March 2012 in respect of the province-wide demonstration against tuition hikes. Despite assertions of “business as usual” the message is clear: the strike is real and the strike is working.

Faculty, staff, and the wider community, are joining students in bringing the failure of the Charest government’s education policies to public light. Concordia students are coming together not only to protest what we feel deeply to be an injustice, but also to fulfill our legacy as members of a university that has earned nationwide respect for passionate engagement with and dedication to our wider community, locally, nationally, and globally.

We commend the University for removing the dilemma for students who have chosen not to participate directly in the strike for their own private reasons. With the suspension of classes and all other campus activity, all Concordia students, faculty, and staff who are against the tuition hikes can feel free to express their support of the strike without risk.

We would also like to congratulate Concordia’s administration for taking a responsible approach in minimizing the risks associated with the large crowds expected to gather around Concordia’s Sir George Williams campus Thursday morning. We expect thousands of people to fill the streets around Concordia on Thursday, including thousands of members of the Concordia community. As fraught as such situations can be we know from recent experience that students, and Concordia students in particular, will not be in a mood anger, but one of celebration of our successes and of resolve in achieving our aims.

We look forward to one of the largest demonstrations in the history of Quebec, a proud day for the students of Quebec, and a proud day for everyone at Concordia University.

Lex Gill, President
Concordia Student Union

Robert Sonin, President
Graduate Students’ Association of Concordia University

CJ Building Picket in Support of Accessible Education

Dear students and colleagues,

This Wednesday March 21, we would like to cordially invite you to a festive, musical picket line outside of the CJ Building, on the Loyola campus. We will be gathering outdoors at 12pm sharp and stay until 4:30ish.

The intention of this gathering is:

  1. To open dialogue about the importance of not attending classes during  the strike. In particular, to extend strike awareness and energy to the Loyola campus.
  2. To create large, beautiful signs that will represent Concordia’s presence at the demonstration on March 22.

Please bring sidewalk chalk, poster boards, markers, glitter, fabric, colourful items of all sorts, and whatever other materials you think will contribute to making great posters/signs/puppets for the large demonstration on Thursday March 22.  Additionally, please bring along any musical instruments (or fun sound makers, such as a metal bowl and a spoon!) to add to the festivities!

Photo by Pamela Lamb, taken during the family demonstration on Sunday, March 18, 2012.

cheers and hoorrah,

Media Studies Students

Your Luck Has Run Out Charest: Art Supplies & Activism Against Tuition Hikes

What do you get when you take cardboard, paint & brushes, egg cartons, sparkles, garland, friends & colleagues, a bit of determination and possibly a glass of wine?: Good discussions, political involvement and the possibility for resistance & social change.

Craft night against the tuition hike in Québec.

“The necessity of reform mustn’t be allowed to become a form of blackmail serving to limit, reduce, or halt the exercise of criticism. Under no circumstances should one pay attention to those who tell one: “Don’t criticize, since you’re not capable of carrying out a reform.” That’s ministerial cabinet talk. Critique doesn’t have to be the premise of a deduction that concludes, “this, then, is what needs to be done.” It should be an instrument for those for who fight, those who resist and refuse what is. Its use should be in processes of conflict and confrontation, essays in refusal. It doesn’t have to lay down the law for the law. It isn’t a stage in a programming. It is a challenge directed to what is.”   ― Michel Foucault, The Essential Foucault

Craft night against the tuition hike in Québec.

“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”   ― Mahatma Gandhi

Craft night against the tuition hike in Québec.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”   ― Margaret Mead

Québec Tuition Fees at a visual glance

The $1,625 tuition fee increase has nothing to do with the quality of education or the value of a degree. In fact, the increase of tuition fees (the largest in the history of Quebec) will force thousands more students into debt, to work harder or even drop out.

This website was created in response to the Quebec Ministry of Education’s misinformation campaign—a campaign that cost taxpayers $ 50,000.

visit: quebectuitionfees.ca

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