The Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ), one of Quebec’s largest student unions, recently announced the upcoming January publication of its very first English journal entitled Ultimatum. With authors from McGill, Concordia, and English Cegeps in Montreal, the journal aims to broaden ASSÉ’s audience to anglophone students.
“Ultimatum [whether in French or English] serves as a tool for mobilization for students,” Mathilde Michaud, one of the members of Ultimatum’s French edition, told The Daily in French. “It’s an English tool for mobilization to reach the anglophone population in Montreal.”
Topics specific to McGill would include “recent cuts to courses in the Faculty of Arts […] and more global issues in relation to austerity,” according to Michaud.
ASSÉ is a Quebec student union, founded in 2001, most notably known for its efforts in countering the proposed tuition hike during the 2012 Quebec student strike. However, anglophone universities did not play as substantive of a role in the strike as their French counterparts. Only departmental associations went on strike at McGill, while AUS voted against a strike. However, unlike McGill, Concordia’s student union did go on strike.
In February 2013, McGill’s Art History and Communication Studies Graduate Students Association (AHCS GSA) voted to join ASSÉ – the first anglophone association to affiliate with the union since 2002. Later that same year, Concordia’s School of Community and Public Affairs Students’ Association also joined. Certain anglophone Cegeps have since joined ASSÉ as well.
In light of these new additions to ASSÉ’s student union community, Michaud explained the importance of creating a journal in English. “L’ASSÉ would like to give [these English student associations] more of a say […] by allowing them to also be part of the written media base of ASSÉ,” she said.
Michaud hoped that the journal will encourage other English student associations to affiliate themselves with ASSÉ, especially because since its beginning, “ASSÉ has been a Francophone association, not by choice, but by function.”
Benjamin Gingras, ASSÉ’s co-spokesperson and finance secretary, elaborated on Michaud’s point, and told The Daily that the journal will help to expand political issues concerning all students beyond French-speaking students.
“We can’t stay bound to a francophone population when there’s a reality of students that is broader than that. There are international students, say at Concordia and at McGill, for whom English isn’t their second language and who don’t speak French, and [ whom] we need to speak to, to inform. [… We need] to cross the language barriers and have everyone informed about what’s going on.”