As the news breaks about Education Minister Line Beauchamp`s resignation, the CLASSE and the FEUQ have now published on their websites updated lists of votes on the government`s offer. These stats, reprinted at the bottom of this article in English, date from Monday May 14th.
The government offer is summarized in English here and critically discussed by the YCL in English here, and in French by the CLASSE here.
Of all the student associations that have voted so far, these are the figures:
In favor of the offer: 3 student unions representing 5000 students
Against the offer: 115 student unions, representing 342 000 students
The list shows that opposition to the government offer is widespread across the regions of Quebec. It also shows that a range of students are rejecting the offer. The list includes student unions with English-language membership (ie. Dawson and Concordia), and with significant numbers of students from racialized communities.
It is important to note, for students in English-speaking Canada, that these votes are not being held by the student union executive committees but by general assemblies of the students -- extraordinary AGMs -- and that these votes have been easily reaching quorum (and, in fact, well exceeding that amount) everywhere. Literally hundreds of thousands of students are debating, discussing, and deciding on the next step.
Moreover, the students have been taking these votes on an almost weekly basis in most cases (except for about 120,000 students who have given their unions the mandate to strike until the government negotiates seriously).
This shows again the importance of having the whole support of the membership, empowered and directing the movement and the strength of a truly democratic approach, which the YCL has raised as a key feature of this battle.
Votes show broad range of student opposistion
English-speaking media has tended to portray the student opposition as a bunch of rabble and trouble-makers, and mainly arts students. The numbers show a different picture.
The Cégep system is unique to Quebec and is not the same as the college system in English-speaking Canada. It includes students from grade 12 to 14 or the last year of highschool and the first year of university. There are some programmes that transfer directly to university and others that are diplomas, including trades.
In addition, we can see Medical, Geography and Computer science students at the University of Montreal, Physics students from Laval, general science students from the University of Sherbrook, management students at UQAM and also engineering and applied science students the Polytechnique.
For the English-language students, we see the entire undergraduate students at Concordia voted no.
This range of opposition should also be a wake-up call to those in English-speaking Canada who claim that most or at least many students are not from the working class majority and dis-interested in struggle, and that there must be a battle between the students from different class backgrounds within the student movement.
The results here dispute this analysis that is at best mechanistic and at worst defeatist and sectarian. Of course the student movement is a dynamic and cross-class movement. The results suggest that actually class consciousness of the students is of critical importance there is actually a major battle of ideas within the student movement. Victory lies not in dividing the students but through winning their unity behind mass demands that are also part of the struggle of the working people, like accessible education.
Struggle gets results
There have been reports of students getting into heated arguments on campuses not so much over the deal but if the general unlimited strike should continue.
This is understandable given the situation.
Despite the length of the struggle, the intransigence of the Charest Liberals, the intimidation by the police, pressure from the right-wing, attacks from the courts, and the massive corporate media campaign aimed at shifting the opinion of parents, grandparents, and students against solidarity with the strikers -- despite all that, over 150,000 students are still on strike.
But the students are tired and many are asking -- why have we done this massive struggle for such a poor offer from the government?
At the time we did our first-read of the offer, the emphasis we put on the assessment was that it was a Trojan horse for privatization and should be rejected. However that was not to say that the deal was better that what the students were going to get before they started to fight, especially they have pushed the government back -- slightly, and not enough -- on the question of fees.
This is something the students should take confidence from.
Again, the minister is totally wrong!
Throughout the student strike the government has been saying that, since many students were not on strike, that the spoke for the so-called silent majority.
This claim has now been clearly blown out of the water.
The reasons for students not going on strike are primarily the threat -- economic and political -- that they will suffer serious repercussions from this action. Nevertheless, at its high-point in late March, and setting a record for Quebec student strikes, over three quarters of the students were on strike.
Throughout the strike the English-language media has insisted that that student strike is in fact a boycott. This claim has a very specific ideological objective and is not simply a different spin on the situation, because it presents education as a commodity and a privilege not a right.
In fact, with a generation of students not graduating on time, not completing courses and being ready to enter the workforce -- this does have an economic impact on the capitalists, who need an educated workforce but are not willing to pay for it.
There is a lesson here about the so-called idea of the student vanguard, that workers have sold-out these days and the students are the most militant who can lead the revolution. The situation in Quebec clearly shows that there is a difference between being on the front-line and having the power to overthrow the system, while at the same time reinforcing how a major mass mobilization can shake society and the ruling class.
But an impact is not the same as shutting down the economy, as with a general strike.
The strategy now
For some time longer-term strategy of the students has, as we noted at the beginning of the struggle in a January article, hoped on either (a) forcing the government`s hand (b) triggering an election and getting rid of the increase that way, presumably through a Parti Québécois (PQ) or maybe a PQ-Québec solidaire coalition (c) setting the scene for a general strike that creates a political crisis and opens up an new terrain of struggle in which an anti-austerity, pro-people and pro-student agenda could be won and open the question of systemic change and social transformation.
The CLASSE has openly called for a general strike which you can read here. Other voices are calling for a meeting of labour and community groups that would allow the labour movement to start organizing. The unions however have not moved into battle -- yet -- although there is growing debate.
Likewise, a spring election has not been called (the clock is, however, likely ticking down to the fall).
The strategies are not mutually exclusive nor are they by any means off the table. But the fact that the road-map forward has not been exactly as the students planned means that they are now looking at the real and relevantly unprecedented probability of loosing a semester of courses. Loosing the session will cost the students not only in their pocket book. As a movement it also puts them in a challenging situation, a kind of limbo. The fact tht many student leaders have been arrested does not make things easier.
The government is, right now, trying to find away to 'pass the buck' on the hard decision of cancellation of sessions down to the university administrations and then to the students themselves. When this happens there will be more challenges to solidarity. The LJC-Q is urging students not to take a short-sighted view and blame their fellow students for these costs, but to direct their anger towards developing continued mass opposition to the Charest attacks on access to education.
Over the duration of this struggle it has become more and more clear -- the Charest Liberals are out to smash labour, to smash people`s movements, and right now, to smash the student movement. This is something that the big corporations and their governments can only do, of course, in the short term. But what is at stake is becoming sharper and clearer.
In this situation, and not least given the fact that (although it may not seem so) the struggle has proven results, we urge all the students to continue their fight, stand brave and proud, and keep up the red square flying!
The following student unions voted against the government's offers:
General Association of the College de Valleyfield (AGECoV): 1965 members
Student union at Cégep Marie-Victorin (SECMV): 3800 members
General Association of Students of the College Bois de Boulogne (AGEBdeB): 2950 members
Student Association of St. Lawrence College (AECSL): 3500 members
Student Association General de Montmorency (AGEM): 6600 members
General Association of Students of the CEGEP de l'Outaouais (AGEECO): 4600 members
General Association of Students of the college of Baie-Comeau (AGEECBC): 700 members
General Association of Students from CEGEP de Lanaudière in Terrebonne (AGEECLT): 1500 members
Collective services (collective services) (Ste-Foy): 6800 members
General Association of tétudiantes and students of Collège Lionel-Groulx (AGEECLG): 5500 members
General Association student of the institute maritime du Québec (AGEIMQ): 300 members
General Association of Students of the Cégep de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue (AGECAT): 1900 members
Student Association of the Cégep de Matane (AECM): 600 members
General Association of Student Cégep de Saint-Jerome (AGES): 3600 members
General Association of Ahuntsic College Student: 10,575 members
General Association of Students of Collège Édouard-Montpetit (AGECEM): 6200 members
Association of Students of the College of Pocatière (AGEECLP): 780 members
Student Association General Cégep du Vieux-Montreal (AGECVM): 6900 members
General Association of Student Cégep de St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu (AGECSJR): 3500 members
General Association of Student Rosemont College (AGECRo): 3400 members
General Association of Students of the college Limoilou (AGEECL): 5500 members
Grouping of students from Cégep de St-Hyacinthe (REECSH): 3450 members
General Association of College students from Trois-Rivieres (AGECTR): 4700 members
General Association of Students at Cégep de Sorel-Tracy (AGEECST): 1200 members
Student Association Alma College (AECA): 1300 members
General Association of Students of the Cégep de Jonquière (AGEECJ): 3200 members
General Association of Students at Cégep de Victoriaville (AGEECV): 1500 members
General Association of Students at Cégep André-Laurendeau (AGECAL): 4000 members
General Association of Students of Mont-Laurier (AGEEM): 340 members
General Association of Student Cégep de Drummondville (AGECD): 2180 members
General Assembly College student François-Xavier-Garneau (AGECFXG): 6000 members
Student Association of the Cégep de Saint-Félicien (AECSF): 900 members
Student Association of Cégep de Sherbrooke (AECS): 6300 members
General Association of Students of the Cégep de Rivière-Du-Loup (AGECRLI): 1200 members
Grouping of students and students from CEGEP de Lanaudière in Joliette (REECJL): 2460 members
General Association of Students of the CEGEP de l'Outaouais (AGEECO): 4600 members
Societe Generale of Students of the College de Maisonneuve (SOGÉÉCOM): 6100 members
Dawson Student Union (DSU): 10 559 members
University of Quebec at Montreal
Faculty Association of language students and Communications at UQAM (AFELC): 4000 members
Faculty Student Association Political Science and Law (AFESPED-UQAM): 2100 members
Student Association sciences (AESS): 3200 members
General Association of Planning Students (AGEUR): 350 members
Association of Students of the Faculty of Education at UQAM (ADEESE): 5000 members
Association Faculty of Arts students at UQAM (AFEA-UQAM): 3612 members
Student Association Faculty of Humanities (AFESH-UQAM): 4623 members
Student Association of the School of Management Sciences (AÉESG): 12,646 members
University of Montreal
Federation of Student Associations campus of the University of Montreal (FAECUM): 37 000 members
FAECUM member associations:Laval University
Student Association at D.É.SS arts, design and technology from the University of Montreal: 13 members
Association of Students in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Montreal (AEPSUM): 335 members
Grouping students in sociology from the University of Montreal (REESUM): 209 members
Association of Students in Comparative Literature from the University of Montreal (AELCUM): 185 members
Student Association of French Literature at the University of Montreal (AELLFUM): 394 members
Grouping students of architecture (CSR): 353 members
Association of geography students from the University of Montreal (AÉGUM): 242 members
Association of Students of art history at the University of Montreal (AEEHAUM): 160 members
Association of Students in Medicine, University of Montreal (AEEMUM): 1319 members
Student Association of Department of Computer Science and Operations Research at the University of Montreal (AEDIROUM): 337 members
Association of students of philosophy at the University of Montreal (ADÉPUM): 296 members
Association of Music students from the University of Montreal (AÉMUM): 634 members
Student Association of Communication graduate of the University of Montreal (ECCSUM): 209 members
Association of graduate students in political science from the University of Montreal (AECSSPUM): 170 members
Student Association of History at the University of Montreal (AÉHUM): 337 members
Student Association of Demography at the University of Montreal (AEDEM): 72 members
Association of Students for Higher Studies in Educational Sciences at the University of Montreal (AÉÉSSÉ): 1216 members
Association of graduate students in International Studies (AECSEI): 122 members
Linguistics Students Association, University of Montreal (AÉLUM): 174 members
Association of Graduate Students in Anthropology from the University of Montreal (AECSAUM): 177 members
Student Association of Anthropology at the University of Montreal (AEAUM): 388 members
Association of Students in Psychology from the University of Montreal (AGEEPUM): 1192 members
Association of Students in film studies at the University of Montreal (AÉÉÉCUM): 482 members
Students' Association (s) in political science and international studies at the University of Montreal (AESPEIUM): 719 members
Association of Students in the School of Library and Information Science, University of Montreal (AEEEBSI): 520 members
Association of translation students from the University of Montreal (AÉTUM): 491 members
Secondary Students' Association at the University of Montreal (AÉESUM): 465 members
Student Association of Kinesiology graduate (AEKCS): 95 members
Association of Graduate Management (CASA): 190 members
Confederation of Association of Students from Laval University (CADEUL): 28 000 membersUniversity of Quebec at Chicoutimi
Association of Laval students enrolled in graduate studies (ÆLIÉS): 11 500 members
- INCLUDED IN THE CADEUL - Grouping of Students in Sociology from Laval University (RESUL): 111 members
- INCLUDED IN THE CADEUL - Association of creation and literary study from Laval University (ACÉLUL): 350 members
- INCLUDED IN THE CADEUL - Student Society of Geography of Université Laval (AÉGUL): 250 members
- INCLUDED IN THE CADEUL - Association of Students in History from Laval University (AEEH): 350 members
- INCLUDED IN THE CADEUL - General Association of Students prégradués in philosophy from Laval University (AGEEPP): 241 members
- INCLUDED IN THE CADEUL - Association of researcher (s) student (s) in Philosophy (CAPE): 120 members
- INCLUDED IN THE CADEUL - Association of Physics Students from Laval University (ADÉPUL): 77 members
- INCLUDED IN THE CADEUL - General Association of Students in theater from the University Laval (AGÉÉTUL)
- INCLUDED IN THE CADEUL - Association of Students of political science at Laval University (APEUL)
- INCLUDED IN THE CADEUL - Association of Students in Art History (WASH): 104 members
- INCLUDED IN THE CADEUL - Consolidation of medical students at Laval University (REMUL): 1000 members
- INCLUDED IN THE CADEUL - Students' Association (s) in archeology at Laval University (AÉAUL): 90 members
- INCLUDED IN AÉLIÉ - Student Association second and third cycles of the history department at Laval University (ARTIFACT): 254 members
- INCLUDED IN AÉLIÉ - Association of Researchers sociology students (ACCESS): 150 members
Movement of General Student Associations University of Quebec at Chicoutimi (MAGE-UQAC): 6500 membersUniversity of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres
- INCLUDED IN THE MAGE-UQAC - Master of regional intervention to UQAC: 85 members
Student General Association of the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivière (AGEUQTR): 10 000 members
-Included in AGEUQTR - Quebec Study (member AGEUQTR): 43 members
University of Sherbrooke
Student Federation of the University of Sherbrooke (FEUS): 11 468 members
- INCLUDED IN FEUS - General Association of Students of the Faculty of Education at the University of Sherbrooke (AGEEFEUS): 2268 members
- INCLUDED IN FEUS - General Association of Students of the Faculty of Humanities (AGEFLESH): 2001 members
- INCLUDED IN FEUS - General Association of Students in Science (AGES): 961 members
- INCLUDED IN FEUS - General Association of Students of Medicine University of Sherbrooke (AGEEMUS): 990 members
Grouping students in master's and doctorate from the University of Sherbrooke (REMDUS): 6500 members
- INCLUDED IN THE REMDUS - General Association of Students in letter and Communication (graduate), University of Sherbrooke (AGEMDELCUS): 282 members
- INCLUDED IN THE REMDUS - General Association of Students in master's and doctorate in education from the University of Sherbrooke (AGEMDEUS): 500 members
- INCLUDED IN THE REMDUS - Consolidation of research students in science at the University of Sherbrooke (RECSUS): 400 members
Graduate Student Association (GSA): 6000 membersNational Institute for Scientific Research (INRS)
Concordia Student Union (CSU): 34 000 members
- Included in CSU - Women Studies student association Concordia (WSSA): 200 members
Association of Planning Students, Culture and Society (AEUCS): 130 membersGeneral Association of Students of the Institut Armand-Frapier (AGEIAF): 140 membersUniversity of Quebec at Rimouski
General Association of Campus Student Rimouski (AGECAR): 3300 membersUniversity of Quebec in Abitibi-Témiscamingue
General Association of Students of the University of Quebec in Abitibi-Témiscamingue (AGEUQAT): 3000 membersPolytechnic
Association of graduate students of Polytechnic (AÉCSP): 1800 membersPolytechnic Students Association (AEP): 4200 members
The following student unions voted for the government's offers:
General Association of Students of the cegep Gapésie and Islands, Gaspé campus (AGECGÎ): 600 members
General Association of College students from Rimouski (AGECRi): 2600 members
Association of Students at Cégep de Granby Haute-Yamaska (AEECGH-Y): 1800 members