Central Student Association calls on Jean Charest to negotiate in good faith
Friday, May 4, 20129 Comments
On Friday, May 4th, the CSA sent a letter to the Jean Charest government in Québec to encourage meaningful negotiation with students and end the police repression of student demonstrators.
The Central Student Association is the undergraduate student union at the University of Guelph, representing over twenty thousand undergraduate students.
The following letter was sent to Jean Charest and copied to MPP Liz Sandals and MP Frank Valeriote. A short message of solidarity and a copy of the letter was also sent to the three student federations in Québec; the FEUQ, the FECQ and the CLASSE.
To the Honourable Jean Charest,
The University of Guelph’s Central Student Association proudly expresses its solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of University students currently exercising their democratic rights to protect and expand accessible education in Québec, through striking and demonstrating.
The proposed increase by your government of $1625 over the next 5 years threatens Québec students’ access to education and will contribute to the increase of tuition fees across the country, including here in Ontario. A recent study done by a Québec student federation (the FEUQ) has shown that the median income of Québec students is $12 200 per year. Your hike in fees means that students will have to work an extra 162 hours per year at a salary of $10/hr to make ends meet.
The Central Student Association, in accordance with its policies, is committed to the removal of economic barriers to universal accessibility. We now feel we must add our voices to the growing chorus across Canada which condemns the intensifying privatization and commodification of our education system.
Students in Ontario suffer from some of the highest tuition fees, the largest class sizes and some of the highest debt levels in the country. We have learned from experience that increased student debt does not increase the quality of education. We as Ontarian students need Québec to continue to lead by example and provide a more socially just funding framework to post-secondary education. Québec students themselves continue to inspire us with mass mobilizations against the increase, rallying some of the largest protests in Canadian history over the past weeks. The rally of 250 000 people on March 22nd and a rally of almost 300 000 on April 22nd is evidence of the broad support they are receiving from the public.
We are also very concerned with the repression and contempt the students have faced from police and government. Québec students have democratically voted on and organized the ongoing strike through the democratic structure of mass meetings. Despite this, your government has refused to negotiate the tuition increase in good faith. There has been considerable police violence, including gassing protestors, mass arrests, and even blinding one student in the eye with a sound bomb. You need to condemn this repression and respect the democratic rights of students in Québec.
It is not too late to come to a political solution to this manufactured crisis. Sit down with all student federations now and negotiate in good faith. Listen to the students and the public and make Québec an example of accessible, quality post-secondary education in Canada.
Communications and Corporate Affairs
On behalf of the Central Student Association Executive Committee
Students are also encouraged to pick up a red square from the CSA office starting May 7. The square of fabric comes from the expression, "squarely in the red" when referring to student debt and have become the symbol of the student movement in Quebec.