As McGill launches into the fall semester, many of its students face the decision of whether or not to go back to class. Though the student strike garnered less support at McGill than at many other Montreal universities, several of McGill’s student societies did vote to strike.
Among them were the Gender, Sexual Diversity, and Feminist Studies Students’ Association (GSDFSSA), the Philosophy Students’ Association, the Art History and Communication Student Association, and the English Graduate Student Society.
However, only the GSDFSSA is confirmed to still be on strike.
GSDFSSA President Isabella Mancini explained, “The strike motion stipulates that there must be a vote in order to end the strike, and that if the [General Assembly] does not reach quorum, the strike continues, because without quorum we are not a decision-making body.”
As their last two General Assemblies (GAs) failed to reach quorum, GSDFSSA is still technically on strike, and will remain on strike until their next GA, planned for sometime in the coming weeks.
The Association des étudiant(e)s en langue et littérature françaises inscrit(e)s aux études supérieures (ADELFIES) – which also voted to go on strike last semester – plans to hold a GA tomorrow.
Bill 78, now signed into law as Law 12, includes a provision prohibiting the enforcement of a strike vote on university campuses. Violating Law 12 triggers hefty monetary penalties – an individual can be charged up to $5,000 per day for failing to comply with any part of the law.
Even in the face of these staggering fines, protesters have brazenly flouted the law throughout the summer, and there are indications that they may continue to do so with the start of the new semester.
McGill student and activist Kevin Paul said that so far, Law 12 has done little to deter students from striking.
“Just as [Law 12] has failed to stop street protests, it has failed to break strikes,” he explained. “Students have defended picket lines and disrupted classes, in particular at UQÀM and UdeM this past week.”
The elections played an integral role in the continuation of the strike, according to Paul-Émile Auger, the general secretary of the Table de Concertation Étudiante du Québec (TaCEQ). TaCEQ is a federation of student groups in Quebec which includes the Students’ Society of McGill University.
Auger confirmed that “TaCEQ still has members on strike, with a mandate from their GA.”
The newly elected Parti Québécois’ promise to abolish the hikes raises doubts about the future of the student movement.