The student strike once again became the center of attention on Tuesday as police confronted students at the Université de Montréal (UdeM). The clash triggered renewed tensions between the government and students as more CEGEPs and universities voted to end their strikes.
According to the Fédération des Associations Étudiantes du Campus de l’Université de Montréal (FAÉCUM), the police department deployed 20 patrol vehicles, several public transportation buses, and anti-riot vehicles to deal with the roughly 50 students who were protesting inside the university.
Mathieu Filion, a spokesperson for the university, told La Presse that the decision to call police had been “a difficult one.”
“We had to do it to ensure the safety of our students,” he said in French. “It’s difficult to tell whether or not the intervention has brought calm back to the university, but what we want is to see the students back in class.”
After riot police entered the campus, the executive committee of FAÉCUM worked with the university administration to reach a compromise. The university then suspended the classes that are subject to the strike until provincial elections take place.
FAÉCUM General Secretary Mireille Mercier-Roy said that there had been threats of cancelling the entire semester.
“We’re asking the administration to suspend classes until after the General Assemblies are concluded before acting,” she told The Daily in French.
Police told The Daily that 11 people were arrested on Tuesday for assault against police officers and security guards.
The general assemblies for striking departments at UdeM are scheduled for the fifth and sixth of September. Approximately 1,628 student students in Art History, Anthropology, Film Studies, East Asian Studies, and Comparative Literature are still on strike.
At l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), students within the Association facultaire étudiante des sciences humaines (AFESH) voted on Wednesday during a special General Assembly to end the strike.
According to the AFESH website, 51.9 per cent of those in attendance – nearly half of the association’s members – voted against the continuation of the strike.
Students voted in favour of the strike last week, but a petition of around 70 individuals led to another General Assembly.
Around 4,552 students in three different student associations remain on strike at UQAM.
Administrators filed an official complaint earlier this week to the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) after protesting students disrupted classes. The SPVM confirmed with The Daily that an investigation was underway.
A member of the executive committee of AFESH told The Daily that the university should act in an “intelligent manner” and “recognize the right to strike.”
“UQAM should take position and come out against the tuition hikes. If UQAM calls the police, the social chaos will be worse than at UdeM,” he said referring to the events of Tuesday at the Université de Montréal.
According to SSMU VP External Robin Reid-Fraser, some departments at McGill are still “technically” on strike.
Reid-Fraser explained that the Gender, Sexual Diversity, and Feminist Studies Student Association (GSDFSSA) is still on strike because “in the last couple of weeks of classes, they weren’t able to meet quorum in the General Assemblies and weren’t able to come to a decision as to what to do over the summer.”
However, with McGill’s largest undergraduate student associations – such as Arts and Science – excluded from the student strike, the University has thus far remained relatively unaffected.
—with files from Juan Camilo Velásquez and Nicolas Quiazua