After a tense day of strike activity Tuesday, picket lines are taking a softer approach across campus.
Outside Wilson Hall Wednesday morning, picketing students from the Social Work Student Association (SWSA) held a “strike the fear” picket. Students suspended a “blob” of “fear” from the scaffolding in front of the entrance to the building, with some students hitting it with rolled-up newspaper.
Jade Mathieu, SWSA internal coordinator, said some picket activities on Monday and Tuesday “made tensions arise.”
According to Mathieu, the hard picket line yesterday in front of Wilson Hall was led by striking Nursing graduate students. The School of Social Work shares Wilson Hall with the School of Nursing.
“I really respect the diversity of tactics…[but] we for now are not going to use harder tactics, and we’re going to try to get more support in peaceful ways,” said Mathieu.
Mathieu added the SWSA wanted to “change the atmosphere” around Wilson Hall.
“We wanted to address the different fears that students could have – so fear of admin repression, or the fear of just being in the picket, any kind of fear that students could have – to address it and recognize it,” she said.
Mathieu said SWSA voted at their strike General Assembly last week to use soft tactics.
“We’re just trying to raise awareness of the importance of not crossing the picket line and to try to get people to join us. We’re trying to be positive and to get more and more support for the strike,” said Mathieu.
The Department of English Student Association (DESA) executive sent an email to all DESA members last night in response to concerns regarding yesterday’s strike actions. The email included a message from the DESA strike committee.
The strike committee opened their message by noting that to their knowledge, yesterday was the first day of an enforced student strike in McGill campus history. They added that they realize “some people felt that [yesterday’s] event and tactics are disrespectful.”
Striking DESA members picketed a number of classes yesterday, including blocking student access to some classes. The DESA strike committee’s message stated that “disrespect is not a tactic in our strike action.”
“We hope to move forward with a friendlier and more cooperative approach to our tactics. We are committed to fostering a positive and respectful picketing environment for the duration of the strike, one that we hope everyone will feel empowered to engage in,” the message read.
“Tensions and varying opinions will inevitably continue to exist, we hope that all members of the DESA community will act respectfully at all times,” the message continued.
DESA voted to join the unlimited student strike – joining over 196,000 students on unlimited strike across Quebec – on Monday.