Commentary  The “Summit” needs to be so much more


Dear Daily,

Two weeks ago, Minister of Higher Education Pierre Duchesne announced that the final meetings for his government’s Summit on Higher Education would take place on February 25 and 26 in Montreal. As of yet, there has been no formal announcement about how many people will attend those meetings, who will be there, what the structure will be, or what the goals are. But we know that it will take place over those two days.

Two days. After a process that will have lasted less than four months from the time it was first announced, the conclusion will be a mere two days. After a student strike that lasted six months, saw thousands of people arrested, and was the largest student mobilization that has ever been seen in this province.

The summit is structured around four themes: financing and governance, quality of education, participation and accessibility, and research. Four meetings, with only sixty delegates in attendance, have been held to discuss those specific topics. Other participation includes a “winter school” for youth that had a cap of 500 attendees, four forums for citizen participation, and a Facebook page.

On January 10, SSMU Council adopted a position calling for an états généraux on the subject of education in Quebec. We took this position with the belief that the current Summit process is simply not adequate if we are to address the long-simmering issues surrounding higher education in Quebec, which the strike brought into the public eye. There has not been an examination of the entire education system in the province since the Parent Commission in the 1960s. We feel that it is time again to really talk about what the role of education should be, and that this summit is not long or large enough to really do that.

—Robin Reid-Fraser

SSMU VP External