With a manila envelope handed across the table in Shatner’s Break-Out room, the Quebec Students Roundtable (QSR) gained a prospective member Saturday.
QSR is a provincial student lobby group of which SSMU is a founding member, currently representing over 65,000 students.
Two representatives from the Association Générale des Étudiants de l’Université de Québec à Trois-Rivières (AGE UQTR) were on hand at QSR’s monthly general meeting to deliver the envelope – containing the association’s notice of referendum to affiliate with the group – to the QSR secretary-general Philippe Verreault-Julien.
Joël Pedneault, Vice-Secretary General of QSR, said he was excited to have AGE UQTR on board. He noted that this would be the first member of the Université de Québec (UQ) system to be part of QSR, adding, “It’s really under attack, the UQ system.”
“They have less of a tradition of public funding,” Pedneault continued. “And they’re also the poorest universities.”
He added that having a UQ school in QSR “would allow [QSR] to be more up to date with what’s happening in the UQ system, and be able to fight that fight more effectively.”
AGE UQTR still has to put the question of membership in QSR up for referendum to its 9,500 student members before it becomes affiliated with the group. There will be a two-week period of student consultation, followed by a week-long electronic voting period before results are announced on November 19, according to AGE UQTR political attaché François Landry.
AGE UQTR left the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ) last December in another student referendum. Landry cited, among other things, FEUQ’s “montrealization” – or what he saw as their focus on Montreal schools – as the reason for leaving.
According to Landry, AGE UQTR chose not to affiliate with the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ), another Quebec-wide student group, because the student body found the group too “radical.” Landry noted that AGE UQTR does not support making university education free of charge, unlike ASSÉ, but said that the two groups have “good relations.”
Landry said he was looking forward to working with QSR on the under-financing of Quebec’s universities.
He went on to reference a report produced recently by two QSR members, the undergraduate and graduate student associations of l’Université Laval, which proposes that revenue from a mandatory tax on the profits of companies should go to financing post-secondary education in the province.
“We were happy that research had been done on this subject,” said Landry in French, in an interview with The Daily.
He added, however, that he was not completely satisfied with the conclusions drawn by the report.
“[We should] not only be taxing super rich companies, with a significant mass salariale, as CADEUL [Laval’s undergraduate student association] suggest, but also looking at any company that’s making a profit.”
Marie Malavoy, Parti Québécois MNA and member of the Culture and Education committee, also weighed in on the Laval students’ report.
“It’s worth working more on this,” said Malavoy. “It’s not clear how you would go down this road [of taxing companies for university financing].”
CADEUL VP External François Carbonneau said he hoped QSR would adopt the report at its next general meeting, but added, in French, “What’s important to us is not the document but the idea of contribution from companies.”