News  A “Day of Action” for Concordia students

Students and faculty demonstrate against university administration and tuition increases

This past Monday, around 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students met on Concordia’s Hall building terrace to hold the Wintry Hot Accessible Love-In for Education (WHALE). It included both a Special General Meeting, and a demonstration opposing upcoming tuition hikes.

Both events took place with the support of Concordia’s Provost David Graham, who declared academic amnesty for all students participating in the event.

The Special General Meeting (SGM) of the Concordia Students Union (CSU) passed two motions. The first denounced the Quebec Ministry of Education’s proposed tuition fee hikes, and the second motion approved the beginning of a Day of Action against tuition hikes, which began immediately following the meeting.

The motion regarding the Day of Action also reduced the quorum for a CSU SGM from around 790 students to around 500, in the hopes of facilitating more student involvement in the future. Previously, the quorum exceeded the capacity of any venue on Concordia’s downtown campus.

Mathew Brett, WHALE’s communication coordinator told The Daily that the demonstration was primarily a grassroots organization and expressed his excitement over the student turnout on Monday.

“The hypocrisy is blatant,” added Brett, in reference to the university administration’s spending on severance packages in the face of increasing tuition.

A statement released by the Concordia University Part-time Faculty Association (CUPFA) on January 21 also spoke to the lack of focus and direction regarding the University’s recent spending priorities.

“No policy, plans, decision, collective agreement, or hiring at our University is sustainable. Human resource management at the University is rudderless at all levels,” it stated. “There have been some 45 senior administrators and staff who have left, resigned, or been dismissed (whatever) since 2000. Conservative figures have placed the costs of all these departures (buy-outs) at $10 million.”

Last Thursday, the Concordia Student Union passed a motion at an Informational General Meeting mandating a call for the resignation of all the members-at-large of the Board of Governors (BoG).

In January the Concordia Senate unanimously passed a motion calling for the resignation of Peter Kruyt, the chair of the Concordia BoG.

Neither of these motions are binding.

In response to tuition increases, province-wide demonstrations will be held on March 12. These protest plan to confront Quebec’s provincial budget and perceived deficiencies in its funding of public services, such as Quebec’s universities.

Louis-Philippe Savoie, president of Federation Étudiante Universitaire du Québec (FEUQ), told The Daily that these demonstrations would be a “chance to send a clear message to the Quebec government that students do not agree with the policy of raising tuition fees.”

The projected tuition increases outlined on the CSU website predict that starting in 2011, Quebec students will have to pay an additional $1,500 for tuition, while out of province tuition will rise by an additional $4,500.

The Charest government is expected to address these tuition hikes in its 2011 budget, to be presented to parliament in March.