Interesting little piece from Aidan Rowe on an Irish nationwide university speaking tour of a Canadian speaker from the mass student strikes in Quebec in 2012. If anyone would like to help organising at your university level, or know anyone who would be, link is at the bottom of the piece.
In 2012 the attempt by the government to Quebec to introduce a 75% fee hike was defeated by the organisation of a mass student strike that lasted over 6 months. That fee increase was part of the global process of imposing the privatisation and commodification of education. Since the victory, organisers of the strike have been being doing speaking tours to aid the process whereby “youth and students everywhere are becoming increasingly conscious of the need to organize as a means to defend education as a social right”. In September this tour reaches Ireland where we need to hear how a sustained and militant student movement that can win is built. We want you to help in ensuring a really good turnout for all of the Irish dates of the tour.
There are two purposes to the tour. Firstly so that we can learn how the successful strike was organised in Quebec and discuss whether similar methods might work here. But as importantly we want to use the organisation of the tour in order to aid in the building of a network of militant student activists across the island. So we are not just asking you to attend another lecture, we are asking you to get involved in the process of organising the tour so that you can be part of building that network before the tour has even begun.
Why is Quebec different
“In Quebec, a student strike isn’t just a bunch of rallies, marches and occupations. The strike is a complete shutdown of all courses on campus : no classes, no exams and no evaluations are to take place while the strike is on. Once the strike is voted in a general assembly and comes into effect, picket lines are erected and classrooms are emptied. Everyone, students and faculty alike, is forced to respect the strike mandate. Universities and colleges affected by the strike see their academic calendars disrupted, and since no classes or grading is allowed to happen, degrees can’t be awarded.
During the 2012 strike, most student unions held general assemblies every week to decide whether or not to stay on strike until the next assembly. While doing so, students meeting each other could also discuss the orientation and the actions of the movement. These regular and populous assemblies were fundamental in creating empowerment and a deep investment into the movement among students.” ( fromhttp://www.studentstrike.net/ )
About the tour
Our aim is to get to at 5 cities and at least 8+ universities, hopefully talking to a couple of hundred students who want to see a militant student movement in the process. We hope that this will be looked back on as one important moment in the creation of a fighting student movement that won in Ireland.
Our speaker Vanessa participated and organised at many levels of the strike in small horizontal and autonomous groups, but also as a delegate for her local student union in the most combative national student union (CLASSE). She says “as a feminist activist I was involved in the organization of many collectives projects directly linked with the strike, and as a delegate elected by my general assembly I was one of the transmitting tool necessary for the practice of direct democracy on a large scale”. “All my analysis of the experience of the strike is formed by my political ideas of feminism, class struggle and anti-hierarchy.
If you think its worth students in Ireland looking at how all this was organised and how Quebec has managed to maintain a multi generational radical students movement (Similar strikes happened in Quebec 1974, 1978, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1996 and 2005) then complete the Quebec tour organiser form and together we will make this tour a big success.