French Literature (one day strike)
Thirty-one students from the French literature department gathered in the Arts Building on Tuesday, March 20, and voted on a one-day strike for the province-wide protest on Thursday, March 22. The motion passed with a near unanimous majority-30 students for, and one against. This represented nearly half of the department, which consists of approximately 75 major, minor, and honours students. The French literature department also decided, unanimously, to carry out an unlimited strike vote on Friday, March 30. If the department does agree on an unlimited strike, it will be effective starting the following Monday, April 2. The nature of the picket line will also be discussed at the upcoming meeting.
Due to the department’s size, the assembly was intimate in nature, taking the form of a small group discussion.
On thoughts of the unlimited strike, French literature student Habib Hassoun said, “If we go on a strike, I’m thinking that we could probably make some cultural actions, like creating a creative magazine online with poems, small essays, and thoughts about social engagement.”
Geography (unlimited strike)
On Tuesday, March 20, members of the McGill Undergraduate Geography Society (MUGS) gathered on the fourth floor of Burnside to vote for a proposed one-day strike. The motion that students ultimately passed at the assembly, however, was for an “indefinite general strike,” with 21 voting in favour of the strike, 15 against, and seven abstentions.
Geography students were notified that their department was joining the unlimited strike via a listserv the following morning, on Wednesday, March 21. The strike began today at 8:00 a.m.
As with many other GAs this week, the motion included a clause for periodic renewal every five school days. The next GA will take place today.
No additional details for the actual strike were provided, but in their listserv MUGS recognized that the vote may not have reflected the desires of the entire department.
“We ask that everyone please consider the potential for differing opinions to divide a community, and instead hope we proceed from here with the main goal in mind: education,” the listserv read. “We need to educate ourselves, and allow others to do the same.”
English (no strike)
On March 26, the Department of English Students’ Association (DESA) voted not to continue their unlimited general strike, following a vote with 74 for the renewal of the strike, 117 against and 12 abstentions.
DESA was on strike for one week, having declared a general strike of indefinite duration at an assembly on March 19.
After the first day of the strike last Tuesday, many students criticized the tactics used by picketers, which included drumming and yelling to disrupt classrooms, as well as blocking classroom entrances.
“Some of the people said things that were really insulting,” an English student who wished to remain anonymous said. “They said in their [email] that they weren’t going to use any coercive measures … how is barricading my classroom not coercive?”
DESA executives said that the strike committee, which is open to all English students, worked to address students’ concerns about strike tactics.
“DESA’s goal is not to create noise,” DESA Literature Representative Julie Mannell said. “Our goal is to foster discussion and debate … the important thing is that we’re talking and engaging in dialogue with each other.”
Art History and Communications (unlimited strike)
On March 26, members of the Art History and Communication Studies Students’ (AHCSSA) Association voted in favour of an unlimited general strike in a General Assembly (GA). With a vote of 48 for, 41 against and two abstentions, the stirke vote passed. Quorum was set at 60 people.
Students voted on proposed amendments by show of hands, and on the final vote by secret ballot. If The strike began today, and will be renewable every week on a simple majority vote (50 per cent plus one vote) during another general assembly. The next GA to renew the strike will be held on March 30, at a time and place to be announced at least 36 hours prior.
A group of 30 anthropology students, of the 350 in the department, met Monday, March 19, to discuss how the Anthropology Students’ Association wanted to react to the planned Quebec tuition increases. No informal or formal vote took place, but the students discussed the issues. In addition, students in the anthropology graduate studies program explained how their own renewable strike is going, and gave advice to the assembly.
A general assembly on Friday, March 30, at 6 p.m. in Leacock 26 will determine if the ASA goes on a one, three, or five-day strike or an indefinite strike. Quorum for this assembly is set at 60 students, 17 per cent of the department.
On Tuesday, March 27, just over 20 sociology students gathered independent from the Sociology Students’ Association to discuss how their department wants to respond to the proposed Quebec tuition increases. Since only three per cent of the faculty attended, in a department of 600 students, no strike vote took place, because it would have not been representative of the department’s stance. However, there was a lively discussion about the effectiveness of hard picket lines.
Students brought up the point that, although in the short term hard picket lines appeal to those pro-strike, they have the potential to alienate students, and also that so few students cannot maintain the tactics of a hard strike in the long term. While the majority of opinions presented at this meeting were pro-strike, students also agreed that such a strike could not be forced on the rest of the department if the majority of sociology students don’t agree.
There is a proposed referendum in a sociology General Assembly this upcoming Friday on the topic of the strike and hard picket lines.
Medical students (no strike)
On Tuesday March 20, the Medical Students’ Society of McGill University (MSS) voted against a one-day strike. The motion was defeated with 79 in favour of the strike, 117 against, and six abstentions.
Although the MSS will not be striking, students at the GA voted for the MSS to adopt a specific stance supporting accessible education. While the MSS supports tuition increases that are indexed to inflation, they oppose the Quebec provincial government’s proposed tuition increases over the next five years. The general assembly also voted for the MSS to adopt the position that any tuition fee increase by the provincial government must be accompanied by an increase in student aid through the Quebec Loans and Bursary Program.
Social Work Students (unlimited strike)
On Monday March 26, the Social
Work Students’ Association (SWSA) held a General Assembly (GA) in which members renewed last week’s vote to go on unlimited student strike. SWSA members have been on strike since March 14. Yesterday’s motion passed 56 in favour of the unlimited student strike and 33 against. Quorum for the GA was 25 people.
The SWSA held soft pickets in front of Wilson Hall through last week, encouraging students not to attend class.
“Classes are being held, but we have a picket presence at the beginning of each class,” first year social work student Leah Freeman, said. “In classes that normally have 110 students, there are maybe 10 or 15 who come.”
-Carolina MillÃ¡n Ronchetti
Music (one day strike)
On Wednesday, March 21, members of the Music Undergraduate Student Association (MUSA) voted in a General Assembly (GA) in favour of a one-day strike on March 22, with 62 for, 46 against, and two abstentions. The motion further stated that MUSA is against the rise of tuition fees, and included a clause ensuring that the pickets would be soft.
“Any picket lines undertaken as a part of this strike will not prevent music students from entering and exiting the music buildings or partaking in their activities by means of physical or verbal aggression,” the motion read.
In addition, the assembly debated whether to ratify the vote to strike online until midnight of March 21, but the motion failed.
-Carolina MillÃ¡n Ronchetti