[action alert] Sit-in at Charest’s office is happening NOW

@ McGill College and Sherbrooke

They need back-up and media ASAP!

COURTROOM SUPPORT NEEDED

Last week, a pal of mine and huge supporter of the student movement, CUTV reporter and videographer Laith Marouf, was arrested at a demonstration for videotaping police as they kettled, beat, pepper sprayed, and arrested about 70 students on their way from a demo in downtown Montreal.

Laith’s court date is set for the 18th, at 9 am, at 775 Gosford. Laith has been fucking TIRELESS in his documentation of the Quebec student movement - I haven’t been to a single demo where he wasn’t there somewhere with a videocamera, usually focusing on capturing the actions of the police. His work has been absolutely vital, and this court date is important not only for supporters of the student movement, but for people who care at all about freedom of information and freedom of the press.

If you can be there to support him in person during his court date it would mean a lot.

"

Dear Dr. Graham,

I am writing as a concerned colleague, a feminist and a social justice activist
of long standing. I have been teaching at McGill this term as the Eakin Fellow
in the Study of Canada. Students at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute have asked
me to write to you concerning the disciplinary procedures you have begun to
implement against striking students.

The striking students at Concordia as in the rest of Quebec are not engaged in
some frivolous activity. They are attempting to protect access to post
secondary education for themselves and those who come after them. Rather than
vilifying or criminalizes students who are committed to this important battle,
you should be supporting them. Accessible education should be goal of all of
us involved in the education system. I am particularly proud that both at
Concordia and McGill, the women’s studies students are among the most committed
to the strike. As teachers in this field, we try and instil social
responsibility in our students.

Whatever my views about the strike itself, and I am in full support, I have
decades of experience in participating and studying protests. There is no
question that the threats you have issued that include asking students and
staff to call security if there are students in any way blocking or disrupting
the classroom is bound to end in violent confrontations. There has already
been a serious confrontation with what appears to be violence on the part of
campus security with the geography students.

I ask you sincerely to back down from the confrontational stance you have
adopted. Surely there is a way to negotiate solutions to blocked or disrupted
classes without, as you put it, calling in the authorities.

The increased use of campus security and police against student activists is a
growing concern for me and I think an increasing challenge to democracy on
campus. Please do not further escalate confrontation with the students.

"
Judy Rebick
Eakin Fellow at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

(from an e-mail sent to all members of the Women’s Studies Student Association, addressed to the Provost of Concordia University, David Graham)  (via twowrongsmakearight)

over 500 students are blocking the port of Montreal

Students are also occupying the Liberal part offices.

Flying pickets started at 9 this morning.

Just another day in the lives of Quebec college students.

[action alert] silent library flash mob

Here’s an event we came up with for folks who a) don’t have a lot of time to participate in direct action, b) can’t/don’t want to risk getting arrested, expelled, or fined, and c) have limited mobility and can’t or don’t want to do actions that involve tons of physical activity or an extended period of time.

At 8 AM on the 28th, we’re going to meet in the atrium of the downtown Library building, and try to fill  up all the computer labs - as well as sign out all the library laptops - at once, effectively shutting down the library’s computer service for 15 minutes. During that time, we will send mass e-mails to university administrators - template e-mails will be available, or come prepared to write your own. We want to particularly focus on flooding the complaint line set up by the university to handle “code of conduct violations” related to the strike - if you feel that, as a striker and/or someone supporting the strike, your right to participate in your own education has been impeded by the university’s anti-strike stance, you should inform them that they are violating their own code of conduct!

RSVP here.

Economic disruption

Concordia has declared war on the student movement. Students all over the province have been locked out, deregistered, threatened with expulsion and failing grades, harassed, beaten, and largely treated with contempt by their own administrations. The government refuses to negotiate it’s stance with us. It took a ~300,000 person demonstration to get the media to even BEGIN to take us seriously, but shit has just begun, my friends.

This week marks the start of a week of economic disruption.

There are direct actions (multiple direct actions) planned for every single day of the week. That facebook link has some info on a few of them - obviously details can’t be released just yet, but there’s meeting locations and contact info there. For more info, get in touch with the Mob Squad, your student union, or the student association of your department. Everyone is mobilizing like crazy.

We were ~300,000 on Thursday. There should be no doubt that we can shut this city down.

If you’re not into participating in direct actions for any reason, please take my recent post to heart, we need your help. If you’re not sure who to get in touch with or how to go about offering support, message me (non-anon plz so i can reply privately) so we can talk.

I’ll be saying this a lot this week, but: I’ll see you out there. Stay safe.

200,000

We shut down three major streets at once. The downtown core was immobilized for hours. We spanned 50 city blocks. Public transit was rerouted, businesses closed. Concordia University closed for the day, cancelling all it’s classes and locking it’s doors.

Before the march, about 100 people occupied the port of Montreal, shutting down all activity there for about half an hour. 100 people. Shut down one of the biggest economic centres of the city. And then joined the 200,000-person march through downtown.

The provincial police came in to help the Montreal cops out, but they were still so outnumbered they could barely manage to confiscate a few sticks from a handful of signs. It was the first time I’ve ever seen police deliberately rendered so utterly ineffectual and clearly obsolete by a large group of people. While we took the streets, dropped banners, and demonstrated, they lined up in the doorways of banks, looking out of place. Nobody wanted them there and most people ignored them. There was no way they could stop a demonstration that size, even with mass arrests - they had absolutely no control over the situation.

At one point, I crested a hill and looked around me. There was no way to tell where the march began or ended. The streets were just filled - packed - with an endless stream of people.

I learned later that it was like that not just on the street I was on, but on parallel streets as well.

There’s a lot of stuff to say about this. I have a lot of critical thoughts swirling around and individual interactions/things to comment on. But right now, what I can’t get over no matter how hard I try is the sheer scale of it. I had heard rumors of MAYBE 75-100K, and felt incapable of processing even the possibility of such numbers. We were TWICE THAT, and more.

I have never seen anything like that, ever before. 

200,000 people could take a city the size of Montreal.

200,000 people is the biggest demonstration in Quebec history.

200,000 people is a number that can’t really be ignored.

And at the end of it, we issued a threat: the next step after this, if a tuition freeze isn’t implemented

is economic disruption.

Tomorrow is the provincial day of action.

I’ll see y’all at Concordia. Don’t forget your Malox!

We have like 50,000 signs for people to carry, so you’d better show up >:I

Concordia University Supports Accessible Education in Quebec

Concordia hosts all-day gala in celebration of new plan dedicated to securing accessible education in Quebec

Montreal, March 21, 2012 - Today Concordia University formally announces its position against the education reforms put forward by the Charest government’s 2011-2012 budget, and invites members of the University community to celebrate the ongoing pursuit of accessible education in Quebec at a gala event held in the lobby of the GM building (1550 De Maisonneuve W.) beginning at 7:30am.

In the midst of political turmoil gripping the province, Concordia has acknowledged that although it is important for the University to continue its world class research and other academic activity, Concordia’s position is such that it is equally important to cradle such academic work in a world class commitment to social justice and equality. While the administration admits that the student strike has placed a temporary burden on the academic functioning of the university, a Concordia spokesperson recognized that it has also opened the doors to student participation in Quebec politics and constitutes a powerful form of education in and of itself.

In order to enhance its competitive position among world universities, and in support of the growing concerns of the Concordia community, Concordia University is making the following four commitments, effective immediately:

i.  The administration, in cooperation with CUFA, CUPFA and Provost David Graham, grants academic amnesty to all Concordia students who have been engaged in strike activities since the first departmental associations voted to go on strike. 


ii. A financial plan will be developed to dedicate $3.1 million directly into student bursaries and scholarships, matching the sum that was paid in severance packages to top level administers between 2009 and 2010. 


iii. The university’s position within CREPUQ will be used to lobby the government to recall its “fair and balanced” education budget, and explore models of University funding through progressive taxation, such as those successfully implemented by countries like Germany, Denmark and Sweden. 


iv. A commitment will be made to re-evaluate the membership of Concordia’s Board of Governors. While current members have remained dedicated to diligently ensuring the smooth operation of the University, the current socio-political climate of the Concordia community and the province suggests that the heads of major corporations may not necessarily be representative of the community at large. Concordia will consider developing a system in which “community-at-large” representatives are democratically elected by the Concordia community itself, which would include students, staff and faculty.


Department heads have also stepped up to support Concordia’s decision. “I have no choice but to accept that the tactic of stopping classroom instruction represents the collective, and thoroughly discussed, decision of our students […] It would be unacceptable to me if a member of our community, whose political action was sanctioned by a truly democratic assembly, were to seriously suffer for that action,” says David Greene, Chair of the Geography, Planning and Environment department.

Concordia University is an integral part of the institutional fabric of Montreal and a major driver of economic and social development in Quebec. Evidence of the far-reaching benefits of affordable public education and research not only provides a convincing argument for maintaining fair access to Quebec’s post-secondary institutions, but also highlights the potential economic advantages that stem from maintaining a wide pool of individuals who are able to apply their time and intellectual labour for the benefit of society.

Members of the Montreal community are cordially invited to join Concordia representatives in celebration of this commitment to accessible education today, Wednesday, March 21st, at an all-day gala in the Lobby of the GM administration building, 1550 De Maisonneuve W. The gala will begin at 7:30am and continue for the duration of the day. Refreshments will be provided. Media welcome.

-30-

Source and More Information:       

Christina Moto
        Concordia University Media Relations
        Phone: 514-848-2424
        Email: Media.Concordiauniversity@gmail.com

How to support strikers if you don’t want to join the picket lines

So, I’ve been urging people to join the picket lines. Because we need people. Most pickets at this point are being organized by ad-hoc strike committees from each department, which means that the bulk of the work - organizing AND picketing AND outreach AND support - is being done by small handfuls of people from striking departments throughout Concordia.

This is pretty typical when it comes to any sort of activism. I’d wager the same thing is happening at other universities. And for the most part, the strike committees have been doing a really good job. Women’s studies, for example, has managed to cancel every single class in the WS department for the past two weeks (we’ve had a little less success with interdisciplinary classes, but still manage a pretty good track record). FASA has managed to completely shut down their department - one of the largest at Concordia - for entire mornings and afternoons.

But.

Yesterday, I went to a demonstration, as part of strike actions. And at that demonstration, I was beaten by cops.

I haven’t done any schoolwork in two weeks. Most of my profs have offered me ways of passing the class without participating in typical academic engagement, but I don’t have time even for that. On a typical day I spend anywhere between 6 and 10 hours on campus, with absolutely no time to do any work of my own.

Every day, strikers on the picket lines are harassed, yelled at, threatened, shoved around, and as of yesterday, beaten with police batons. 

Given all of this, of course, it’s completely understandable that many people who support the strike are choosing to stay away from the action. I’m not here to tell you you have to put yourself at risk.

I’m here to tell you that we need support.

There are lots and lots of ways you can support strikers without putting yourself on the front lines, and all of them are DESPERATELY needed. A brief list:

  • you can provide childcare for striking students with kids
  • if you have a driver’s license and/or a car you can provide transportation for strikers with disabilities
  • you can help us with our homework!
  • you can do our dishes. I know this sounds like a joke but I am serious about this. Domestic labour is labour, and my partner and I haven’t had time or energy for any kind of serious cleaning in over a week. And there are TONS of ways to provide domestic support for strikers - you can deliver meals. You can walk dogs. You can run errands, like taking stuff to the post office, or doing the grocery shopping, or picking up our meds. I mentioned childcare, right?
  • you can talk to us. Express support. Offer a sympathetic ear for those of us who need it.

None of these things require putting yourself at risk, and all of them are desperately needed to maintain a healthy and active movement. There’s a tendency for this sort of thing to be neglected entirely in activism - especially by younger activists, who, let’s face it, are the ones disproportionately leading this strike.

To offer and coordinate this kind of support, you can join the Mob Squad mailing list, or contact the student association you’re part of - to get on the WSSA mailing list, get in touch with Gabrielle at psa@centre2110.org. Send an e-mail over the listservs. Ask if anyone else is interested in coordinating this. Think about the kind of support you can provide and ask if anyone needs it.

Just ask. Please.

We need your help.

[action alert] meeting tomorrow @ 5

7th floor, hall building, to plan for the day of action Thursday.

Several universities and CEGEPS are using Concordia as a meeting place for the day of action. There will be tens of thousands of people converging on campus. According to the callout I just got from Lex Gill, we need to coordinate:

- Basic security on the day-of (ideally, people who are functionally bilingual)
- Moving stuff the night before so that it’s accessible in the morning
- Industrial-scale stapling and placard making (we have four skids of sticks being delivered as I write this…) over the next two days
- promoting the demo (omgz share me right meow: https://www.facebook.com/events/203200003118677/)

[action alert] Jean Charest is giving a press conference at 3

Meet ConU students in front of the Hall building at 2:30 if you want to march over and show him what we think of the increasing privatization of education in Quebec!