In an informal discussion forum in the Shatner Building on Tuesday, a handful of students and strike organizers met to reflect on the past seven months of the Quebec student movement and to contemplate its future.
The primary concern of the discussion was the upcoming summit on higher education, proposed by Parti Québécois (PQ) leader Pauline Marois upon her electoral victory.
Little is known about the format of the summit, which is expected to take place this winter, and students expressed apprehension about participating in a forum where the terms of discussion are dictated by the opposition.
“Students need to be at the centre of the discussion and debate to develop not only the process, but to put out the issues that are the most relevant,” said Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) External Affairs Officer Errol Salamon.
Students discussed holding a counter-summit as an alternative, either prior to the PQ summit or at the same time.
“Any kind of mobilization after the summit will be a reaction,” said Jérémie Bédard-Wien, Financial Secretary of Coalition large de l’ASSÉ (CLASSE).
“We cannot let the government dictate the political agenda, we must take action before that,” he continued.
With the strike over and the tuition hikes on hold, the difficulty now lies in mobilizing students against a threat that is no longer imminent.
First-year Law student Kevin Paul stressed the importance of “the twenty-twos,” mass demonstrations that take place in Montreal on the 22nd of each month.
“They are becoming increasingly a matter of routine,” said Bédard-Wien. “We are demonstrating, but why? What for?”
With students back in school, the importance of maintaining momentum and mobilizing students new to the movement was emphasized.
“There is a lot of potential at McGill to develop union culture,” said Bédard-Wien. “We must make sure that what has started at McGill is kept up.”