The McGill Social Work Student Association (SWSA) voted to go on unlimited general strike yesterday in opposition to upcoming tuition increases ordered by the Quebec government.
The SWSA, which represents the 242 undergraduates in McGill’s School of Social Work, is the first McGill student association to join the unlimited general strike, which currently has over 180,000 students participating across the province.
In a press release sent to The Daily last night, SWSA VP External Echo Parent-Racine explained that social work is a profession “established to improve the situation of marginalized people and to critically examine societal structures which oppress.”
“As a faculty that values social equity and the promotion of social justice and advocacy, it is appropriate that the undergraduate Social Work students voted in favor for an unlimited strike, in order to promote the belief that education is a right and not a privilege,” continued Parent-Racine in the press release.
The vote was conducted as part of SWSA’s first-ever General Assembly (GA). 94 students attended the GA, with the final vote tallying 47 in favour and 29 against joining, with one abstention. Quorum for the GA was 24 students.
The GA was held in the Wendy Patrick Room in Wilson Hall, which has a capacity of between seventy and eighty students. Parent-Racine explained that they had to find an overflow room for some portions of the GA.
The GA passed two amendments to the strike motion. The first required SWSA to hold the next GA to renew the strike mandate in one week, as opposed to two. The second moved the start date of the strike from March 21 to March 19.
Parent-Racine described the ninety-minute debate on the motion as “passionate” in an interview with The Daily after the GA.
“Students were really engaged,” she said. “There was a lot of respect in the room. People were courteous to each other despite different opinions held, and it was reflected in the comportment of the students.”
Media was barred entry into the GA yesterday afternoon. Parent-Racine explained that it was to ensure students felt comfortable during debate, and also because of space constraints.
“We value making people feel comfortable, and, especially because it was our first GA, we didn’t want any outside influence to sway the students’ opinion one side or the other,” said Parent-Racine.