News | Striking on campus

Strike renewal votes continue: Check back for updates on the week's votes, picket lines, and actions

STRIKE COUNT:

Unlimited general strike: +/- 1,046 students (SWSA, GSDFSSA, AHCSSA)

On strike as of April 4: +/- 2,083 (SWSA, GSDFSSA, AHCSSA, EGSS)

 

Still to come:

Wednesday

CLASHNA strike GA (TBA)

Tuesday 

GSDFSSA renewal GA (10 am, EDU 211)

Art History and Communications (6 pm, LEA 26)

Strike blog: 
Tuesday 9:45 p.m. | Philosophy undergraduates vote to end strike

The Philosophy Students’ Association (PSA) voted today at a general assembly (GA) in the SSMU cafeteria not to renew the unlimited strike it initially declared on March 28. The original strike mandate stipulated that it be renewed every five academic days. The vote was 44 in favour of renewal, 68 against, and 6 abstentions.

PSA co-president Emma Ryman estimates that turnout equaled about 29 per cent of the roughly 400 Philosophy undergraduates at McGill that the PSA represents. The PSA allowed students to vote by proxy and email in their votes, and 62 of the 118 votes cast were online. Students who attended the GA but had to leave early were also able to record their vote in a book before leaving.

At least two-thirds of the three-hour-long GA was spent discussing online voting, and a motion was passed to ratify the way in which online voting would occur in future strike-vote GAs. Although coupled with online votes the motion to renew the strike failed, a clear majority of those voting from the floor of the GA voted in favour of renewal, with 13 opposing the motion, 23 in favour, and one abstention. 17 students recorded their vote in the book, with nine voting against renewing the strike, seven in favour, and one abstention.

Lola Duffort

Monday 7:05 p.m. | AHCSSA inches above quorum and renews strike
The Art History and Communications Studies’ Students’ Association (AHCSSA)held a General Assembly (GA) tonight and voted to renew its unlimited general strike . Exceeding the sixty student-minimum quorum by only two people, 28 students voted against continuing the strike, with 33 voting in favour.
AHCSSA Co-President and former Daily Health and Education Editor Joseph Henry noted the consistent drop in attendance from their initial strike vote last week, which he said over 100 students attended, as well as at strike votes in general across campus.
“Next Tuesday, it’s going to be a very big challenge to get quorum,” said Henry, referring to the AHCSSA’s next strike renewal vote.
Reaching quorum, he said, “is contingent on the actions of the strike committee” in terms of informing students and increasing visibility of the strike on campus.
The GA made one amendment to the motion, specifying the hard picket tactics may be employed against professors but not students. Henry said he thought the tactic could be “a really useful and good idea.”
“It seems less antagonistic to students…while having a more effective strike action,” he continued.
The AHCSSA had been adopting soft picketing for most of the past week, and Henry said the executive had yet to receive any “huge complaints.”
“From what the strike committee has told me [last week’s strike] was very effective,” he said. “But in terms of the overall goal of the strike, which is to stop classes from happening, I don’t think that’s been happening.”
Henry Gass
Monday 9 a.m. | Anthropology students vote against strike
After their General Assembly failed to meet quorum last Friday, members of the Anthropology Students’ Association (ASA) voted online against beginning a five-day renewable strike.
The final result of the vote was 53  for a strike, with 75 against and four abstentions. The ASA GA voted to move the strike vote online for a 24-hour period this weekend.
Sheehan Moore, the ASA VP Internal and former Daily Design and Production Editor, said he thought the online vote “was a good compromise considering we didn’t get quorum.”
“I wish all those [who’d voted] had been able to come out in person,” he continued. “I think with online votes you always run the risk of bringing things down to a yes or no.”
Moore added that he was impressed by the ASA membership “for their participation [and] for their civility” throughout the process.

Henry Gass

 

 

Sunday 8 p.m. | Geography students vote to end strike

After over a week on unlimited general strike, members of the McGill Undergraduate Geography Society (MUGS) voted via online ballot to end the strike. The results were announced on the MUGS Facebook page, with 13 students voting in favour of continuing the strike, 37 voting against, and 5 abstentions.

Henry Gass

Friday 9:50 p.m. | Anthropology GA fails to meet quorum, vote to go online
The Anthropology Students’ Association (ASA) strike vote General Assembly (GA) failed to reach quorum tonight.

The members of the ASA gathered in Leacock 26 and doors were opened at 6:00 p.m. However, the meeting – chaired by ASA co-president Erin Schilling — was delayed in an attempt to meet its quorum of 60 people.

After the 40 minute lag, the ASA failed to meet quorum at a peak of 56 students, roughly 17 per cent of the entire departmental body.

The GA then became a consultative body, which means its motions would only act as recommendations for the ASA executives.

The body then proceeded to vote on the first motion of putting the strike vote online.

The motion set a 24-hour online voting period starting Saturday at 5 p.m. and ending at 5 p.m. Sunday April 1. Results will be published over the department listserv Sunday night.

The motion was amended to include “a description of the formal debate on the same page as the vote,” and it passed with a vote of 42 for, 8 against, and 1 abstention – as quorum decreased to 51.

The consultative body later moved to vote on the unmodified second motion for a three-day renewable strike.

This motion underlined that “no hard picketing of students shall take place, the use of alternatives to hard picketing of students, such as information campaigns, arts shows…shall be considered as a way to increase student awareness of the departmental strike.”

“If we do go on strike, we go on strike right,” said Julian Tucker one of the movers.

The ASA then voted to change the strike period from three days to five days and to recommend uploading the motion along with the online vote.

Esther Lee

Thursday 5:30 p.m. | French literature undergrads vote down strike renewal
After an afternoon of open polls, L’Association générale des étudiantes et étudiants de langue et littérature françaises (AGELF) voted against renewing their strike. With AGELF electing to hold an open polling period instead of a general assembly or town hall, as other departmental associations have done and AGELF did last week, 23 students voted in favour of renewing the strike, with 26 voting against and one abstention. There are roughly 75 students in the program. The strike will officially end on Monday.
Henry Gass

Wednesday 6 p.m. | CLASHNA to hold strike vote next week

The Caribbean and Latin American & Hispanic Studies Association (CLASHNA) voted today to hold a General Assembly (GA) next Wednesday. The association had originally planned to adhere to the Arts Undergraduate Society’s General Assembly vote to not strike, but concerns by members over the tuition hikes prompted a GA to be organized. The GA will be held next Wednesday.

Laurent Bastien-Corbeil

Wednesday 10:30 a.m. | GSDFSSA vote renew strike doesn’t reach quorum

The Gender, Sexual Diversity, and Feminist Studies Student Association (GSDFSSA) General Assembly (GA) vote to renew its unlimited general strike did not meet its required quorum of 20 students on Wednesday morning.

The group used the meeting time to discuss last week’s pickets of the four Women’s Studies and Sexual Diversity Studies-coded classes, the participation of professors in the strike, and to announce workshops organized by the association.

Because the association voted for an unlimited general strike, the strike will continue despite the failure to reach quorum, which raised concerns among members.

“Because it’s an unlimited general strike, it doesn’t have a set duration,” explained Molly Swain, president and communications coordinator of the GSDFSSA.

“The motion is for an unlimited strike, unlimited being that until we actively, as a body, decide to stop striking, the strike continues.”

Swain welcomed students to amend the wording of the motion at the next GA.

The meeting continued with a discussion about the validity of departmental strike votes after the Arts Undergraduate Society’s GA on March 13. There was a lengthy debate over the possibility of voting online through ballot boxes. During the discussion, members discussed the accessibility of GAs for students who work or live far from campus, versus the value of being present for debate over motions and amendments.

The association is looking to schedule another GA by the end of this week.

Queen Arsem-O’Malley

Tuesday 8:50 p.m. | Philosophy students vote for unlimited strike

The Philosophy Students’ Association (PSA) voted to go on unlimited strike tonight at a General Assembly (GA) held in the SSMU cafeteria. The final vote tallied 32 in favour of the motion to strike, with 18 against it and 6 abstentions. The PSA represents around 400 students; quorum for the GA was forty students.

During the nearly three-hour GA, the motion was amended several times before finally passing. The strike will begin Wednesday at 8 a.m., but the strike shall not apply to 200- and 500-level courses, theses, independent studies, or cross-listed courses.

The motion also states that the strike “shall be enforced by students forming soft picket lines in front of classrooms, with the exception of a hard picket line to be formed upon the arrival of the instructor. These students can take no other actions, save self-defence and discussion.”

Jonathan Wald, PSA student-faculty liason, said the clause was designed to “try to effectively have a strike while minimizing the antagonism of students.”

PSA co-President Emma Ryman said there was “a clear desire of students in the department to go on strike.”

Ryman also addressed the results of the March 13 Arts Undergraduate Society GA, which voted against going on unlimited strike.

“The AUS GA didn’t preclude departments from going on strike,” she said. “I think we believed it was in our constitutional authority.”

Henry Gass

 

Tuesday 7 p.m. | Geography strike renewal vote fails to meet quorum

The McGill Undergraduate Geography Society (MUGS) failed to meet its necessary forty-member quorum tonight in its first vote to renew its unlimited strike. At its peak, the General Assembly (GA) reached roughly 25 students. Students took the time to make announcements, and the three candidates to be next year’s MUGS president presented their platforms and fielded questions from students.

The MUGS renewal vote will now be scheduled for tomorrow. If the GA fails to meet quorum again, the vote will be moved online and made available for three days, during which the strike will remain in effect.

Henry Gass

Monday 10: 20 p.m. | Undergraduate Social Work students renew strike
The Social Work Students Association (SWSA) voted with close to two thirds of the GA’s attendees to renew the strike. According the SWSA’s Facebook page, the debate surrounding the renewal motion last for 45 minutes.
The GA took place at 9:30 a.m. on Monday and the vote was conducted by secret ballot throughout the day. In a blog post, SWSA called on students to come vote and stated an aim to “reduce tension among students and make people feel more comfortable with voting.”
Erin Hudson
Monday, 8:55 p.m. | English students vote against a second week of strike

The Department of English Student Association (DESA) voted against the renewal of its strike motion. 112 students voted against the continuation of the strike, 74 voted in favour and 12 abstained.

The motion to renew the strike was proposed by Danji Buck-Moore, Patrick DeDauw and Kevin Paul, who had also presented the initial motion to go on strike. Unlike last week’s DESA General Assembly, where the quorum of 75 students was only reached halfway through debate, 155 students were present at the beginning of the GA tonight.

The majority of the speakers and students were against the picket lines that prevented them from going to class during the strike. One of the amendments of the strike motion suggested that in case of a strike, “DESA would not support picket lines, intimidation or rudenessfrom those on strike.”

Because there have already been two General Assemblies regarding the strike in the English department, it is unlikely another will occur after Monday’s vote.

“Weprobably won’t ask for another General Assembly to take place,”said Buck-Moore.

Louis Baudoin

Monday, 8:20 p.m. | AHCSSA votes for unlimited strike
Students in the Art History and Communications Studies Student Association voted to begin an unlimited general strike beginning Tuesday. The final count tallied 48 students in favour of the strike and 41 against, with two abstentions. The motion passed with an amendment to refrain from hard picketing. The AHCSSA represents 629 students, and will hold weekly strike renewal votes.
 – Henry Gass
Monday | Education grads vote for five-day renewable strike
The Education Graduate Student Society (EGSS), a graduate student society under the purview of PGSS, voted to go on a five-day renewable strike. The vote was 66 for the strike motion, 44 against and 6 abstentions.
The motion to strike included the formation of a mobilization committee to coordinate actions to promote awareness, teach-ins, and soft picket lines outside classes. The motion described soft picket lines as “picketers maintaining a visible presence while providing information and discouraging students from going to class.”
Fernanda Soler, PhD 2 student in Education, wrote in an email that “We [the EGSS] feel it’s important to show that the movement is still expanding beyond the March 22 rally.” EGSS was on a three day strike with the rest of PGSS members from March 20 to 22.
The renewal of the strike will be conducted through secret ballot with voting taking place between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday March 30 and Monday April 2. The EGSS executive council will administer the renewal vote and make results public on Monday.
 Erin Hudson
Friday 2:30 p.m. | AGELF votes in favour of one week strike 

On March 23, members of L’Association générale des étudiantes et étudiants de langue et littérature françaises (AGELF) voted in favor of a one-week strike beginning March 26, with 18 votes for and 5 against.

Before the vote, members were notified of the strike’s preconditions, established by AGELF’s executive. They included a respect of all professorial decisions regarding the handing in of assignments, as well as a picketing policy that would have boycotting students sign a paper before their class, stating that they will not be attending because they are on strike. Under these conditions, students choosing not to participate in the boycott would not be blocked from attending class.

“Our motivation will be from a feeling of needing to join the protest,” AGELF president Philippe Robichaud told The Daily in French.

When asked whether he was worried about the department’s reaction, Robichaud said that “teachers will support us,” mentioning that multiple department professors had been seen participating in the March 22 demonstration, including Michel Biron, chair of the department.

– Jane Gatensby

Friday afternoon | Graduate student association votes to renew strike mandate
The Association des étudiant(e)s en langue et literature françaises inscrit(e)s aux etudes supérieures (ADELFIES) holds a GA to vote on whether to renew the association’s five-day strike mandate. ADELFIES voted nearly unanimously, the initial vote passed unanimously, which means the association will remain on strike next week.
 Erin Hudson
Thursday 8:00 p.m. | AHCSSA will vote to strike on Monday

McGill’s Art History and Communication Studies Student Association (AHCSSA) will hold their first ever General Assembly (GA) next Monday. Although no resolutions for the GA have been announced yet, it is clear that the AHCSSA will decide whether to declare a department-wide strike.

However, at a general meeting on Thursday some of the AHCSSA executive strongly advocated for a day-long polling period in place of a GA to allow as many students to vote as possible.

“We want this to appear legitimate, and not hasty or rushed,” said Secretary Maud Hurley, adding that the student association would be unlikely to garner sympathy from departmental professors if only a small minority of AHCSSA members vote to strike.

AHCSSA co-president and former Daily Health and Education Editor Joseph Henry noted that there was no legal mandate the Association could provide for a strike. “We can’t say you have to go on strike,” said Henry.

Monday’s AHCSSA General Assembly will have a 7.5 per cent quorum, or about 80 students out of its approximately 1,100 members.

Tim Forster

Thursday | Undergraduate Geography society joins unlimited general strike
The McGill Undergraduate Geography Society (MUGS) went on strike as of March 22, the provincial day of action. The society held its first ever GA in order to vote on whether to join the unlimited general strike. Quorum was set to 40 students.
A MUGS blog post states that the society decided on “soft tactics of mobilization (pamphlets, class announcements, posters, outings and soft picketing).” MUGS represents approximately 400 students.
–  Erin Hudson 
Wednesday 8:42 p.m. | Music Undergraduates vote to go one day strike
The Music Undergraduate Student Association voted Wednesday night to go on strike for the March 22 demonstration.
Tuesday 9:30 p.m.| Women’s Studies votes in favour of unlimited strike

At their first official General Assembly (GA), held in Community Square this evening, the McGill Gender, Sexual Diversity and Feminist Studies Student Association (GSDFSSA) voted overwhelmingly in favour of an indefinite departmental strike. The final vote count was 27 for the motion and three against, with one abstention.

The motion, submitted by incoming SSMU VP External Robin Reid-Fraser, specifies that the strike will begin at 8:00 am tomorrow, and will be of unlimited duration, with weekly meetings to discuss tactics and renewal.

“The strike has been controversial on this campus,” said Reid-Fraser. “People have different feelings about the use of pickets, so it’s important that we have this conversation and people express their feelings.”

It was amended at the GA that an official non-hierarchical strike council be formed by any interested members of the GSDFSSA. A second amendment, which garnered debate, moved to define a “class” as anything that follows a McGill syllabus, results in any kind of grading, or takes place within a regularly scheduled class time or space. According to the motion, any classes conducted during the strike period are a violation of the strike mandate.

During debate, concerns were expressed that a strike is not the most effective form of protest, and that it would require excessive sacrifice on the part of students. However, the dominant tone of the discussion remained in support of the strike.

“The GSDFSSA has always had a strong commitment to the accessibility of education,” said the Association’s president and communications coordinator, Molly Swain. “It’s important that we stand in solidarity with the rest of the students in Quebec.”

The first meeting of the strike council was scheduled to take place immediately after the GA, and planned to discuss the use of hard and soft strike tactics, as well as general logistics of the strike.

Emily Meikle

Tuesday, 6 p.m. | French literature students vote for one-day strike

Tuesday evening the Association générale d’étudiants de langue et littérature françaises (AGELF), which represents all undergraduate students in the Département de Langues et Littératures Françaises (DLLF), voted 30 to 1 to go on a one-day strike this Thursday, March 22.

The one-day strike coincides with a provincial day of action in protest of scheduled tuition increases.

AGELF also reached consensus on a motion to reconvene on Friday to vote on whether to go on a one-week strike beginning on Monday, March 26. This vote would take place after the Association des étudiant(e)s en langue et littérature françaises inscrit(e)s aux études supérieures (ADELFIES), which represents graduate students, convenes to vote on extending their strike for another week.

Philippe Robichaud, AGELF president, declined to comment in his official role, but said that as a student, he saw a “huge sentiment” among other members of the AGELF that last week’s Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) General Assembly vote not to strike was illegitimate. He added that members want to take more action independent of the AUS.

“We want to act on our own,” he said.

Jane Gatensby

Tuesday 5:30 p.m. | Sociology will vote on whether to join the unlimited general strike Friday

A group of 15 sociology students met Tuesday afternoon in the SSMU Clubs Lounge to discuss the possibility of going on strike.

Organised by U3 Sociology student Ariel Prado, the town hall meeting was meant to “create an open space” where students could have a fruitful discussion about tuition hikes and the goals of a potential strike. Attendees discussed the issues of representation, polarisation, picket lines, and the role of professors, among other things.

Because there was a general consensus to strike among those attending, there was talk about turning the group into a strike mobilisation committee. After over thirty minutes of discussion, the group voted unanimously to hold an informal vote this Friday to determine whether Sociology students would go on strike. The group also decided that the quorum for this “General Assembly” would be forty people, and that if students vote in favour, they will use hard picket line tactics.

The meeting was held independently of the Sociology Students’ Association (SSA). While two of the SSA executives did attend the meeting, Prado said that “the executive didn’t want to be a part of [the meeting].” He added that SSA President Samantha Allen, who he had met with earlier to discuss holding a strike forum for Sociology undergraduates, “felt nervous that the SSA would be affiliated [with the strike].”

Nastasha Sartore

Tuesday 10:00 a.m. | Striking English students block access to class in Burnside basement
Several members of the Department of English Student Association (DESA) formed a picket line outside a class taught by English professor Ara Osterweil this morning in the Burnside basement. The crowd of students outside the classroom numbered almost twenty at its peak.
“As a student at this University, I’m obligated to attend this class,” one student told the picketers. A picketer responded that the student was also obligated “to respect this picket line.”
A few minutes after the class was scheduled to begin, Osterweil arrived and asked the students outside if they would be willing to go outside and hold a discussion about the strike.

“I’m hesitant to call Security because I don’t trust them. Nevertheless I’m legally obliged to teach the class and I think that it would be perhaps interesting to go outside, where it’s gorgeous, and maybe think collectively about the strike,” she said.

Osterweil added that she didn’t “appreciate the attempt to block my class and the attempt to block my students’ access to that class, and if I had less of a conscience I would call Security.”

Henry Gass

Tuesday 8:35 a.m. | Striking McGill students form picket lines
Students from striking McGill student associations (all graduate students, and undergraduates in English) formed picket lines at the start of school this morning. Security has been present at picket lines outside Wilson Hall and Leacock 26.
Wilson Hall staff reportedly called police, who visited the picket line outside the building around 8:00 a.m. Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Faculty of Arts Disciplinary Officer André Costopoulos also visited the picket line to talk to students. The picket line remains. Security is posting notice outside Wilson Hall that morning classes are being moved to other buildings.
In an email sent to all McGill staff and students this morning, Associate Vice-Principal (University Services) Jim Nicell wrote the administration “will do what we can to ensure continuity of activities.”
“Most important, we urge everyone to act with the utmost respect toward one another. For the sake of safety, please avoid confrontation,” wrote Nicell.

– Henry Gass

 

Monday 7:53 p.m. | English students declare unlimited general strike

A motion for an unlimited general students strike, beginning tomorrow at 8 a.m., was passed by the Department of English Student Association (DESA) town hall this evening without unfriendly amendments. DESA representes roughly 1,200 McGill students.

The motion, presented by Danji Buck-Moore, U3 Music & Drama Theatre, Patrick DeDauw, U3 Cultural Studies, and Kevin Paul, U3 Cultural Studies, was the only item on the agenda. The town hall struggled to meet quorum early in the evening. However, as debates on amendments and the motion were completed, the town hall reached the required 75 students, and passed the motion with 53 in favour, 27 against, and 5 abstentions in an anonymous vote. The motion passed with the amendment that the strike committee be composed of DESA students.

The town hall came in response to the AUS vote last week to not strike. DESA asked for students’ and professors’ input on the issue and held office hours to get a feel for what English students wanted to do in wake of the AUS vote. DESA Literature representative Julie Mannell said that they “didn’t know what to expect, [we] just wanted to have a forum.” A  letter from two professors to DESA were read aloud at the town hall; one was anti-strike, the other pro-“right to vote.”

DESA will be contacting students this evening via listserv to explain how the strike will play out tomorrow morning.

Vanessa Pagé

 

Monday 3 p.m. | CLASSE demonstrates on McGill-College

A group of roughly 200 students demonstrated outside 1253 McGill-College on the corner of Ste. Catherine where Quebec Premier Jean Charest was scheduled to speak.

The outer doors to the building were opened by students and occupied until SPVM officers arrived from within the building to push students out. The officers used pepper spray.

U4 Arts student and Daily staffer Ethan Feldman was one of the students pepper sprayed.

Feldman said, when he arrived at the demonstration, the entranceway to the building had been “completely filled by students.”

“Eventually people who were blocking the door had to leave and go somewhere else. I stood at the door and I held it open,” said Feldman.

SPVM spokesperson Raphael Bergeron said in a recorded message that a “little group of students” tried to get inside the building, and that the police “intervened and dispersed” them.

Feldman said there were no police at the scene at the time. He said, however, police approached the students from inside the building, having entered from somewhere else.

“Police began to push the doors open, push everybody out very physically,” said Feldman, who added that he hadn’t heard any warning from police before they started advancing.

“At this point a police officer, seeing that I was opening the door or something to that effect, held pepper spray extremely close to my face…and he sprayed in my left eye, all over my face on the left side,” continued Feldman.

The SPVM are currently unavailable for comment.

Henry Gass

 

Monday 12 p.m. | Département de langue et littérature françaises begins five day strike

About 25 students from the Association des étudiant(e)s en langue et literature françaises inscrit(e)s aux etudes supérieures (ADELFIES) gathered on the steps of the Arts building starting at noon today.

ADELFIES voted unanimously to go on strike for five days last Friday. Their strike started today. “We are a bit of a strange department at McGill  – no one voted against the strike,” said masters student Alex Noël.

Noël said that no picket lines were formed by the striking students today, and, according to him, no picket lines to block classes will be formed. The ADELFIES’s strike is “only to encourage people to strike,” he explained.

Noël said the Arts building steps were chosen as the site for the demonstration because of their symbolism and visibility.

The demonstration had dispersed by 3 p.m. The ADELFIES will vote again this Friday on whether or not to continue the strike next week.

Erin Hudson 

 

Monday 7:30 a.m. | Social Work joins the unlimited general strike

Picket lines were set up at 7:30 a.m. Monday morning around the three entrances to Wilson Hall, home of McGill’s School of Social Work.

The Social Work Student Association (SWSA) voted to join the unlimited general strike last week by a margin of 47 students for, 29 students against, and 1 abstention. SWSA is the only student body at McGill to vote to join the unlimited general strike thus far, and also the first student association to vote to go on unlimited strike in McGill’s history.

At 10 a.m. there were 15 students participating in picket lines around the building entrances by holding signs, chanting, and sporting face paint of a red square.

At that time, Anne Blumenthal, Y2 Social Work student and member of SWSA’s mobilization committee, said that four students had crossed picket lines.

Alex Beveridge, a Y1 Social Work student picketing outside the building’s University entrance, said that professors had crossed picket lines and were teaching classes inside, however, she noted having received support from professors since the picket lines formed.

While The Daily was near the Wilson Hall University entrance’s picket line, one student crossed the picket line peacefully.

Erin Hudson

Photos by Hera Chan, Henry Gass, Morgan James and Sam Reynolds


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