Student associations come together as summit nears

Monday, December 3, 2012

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"The student associations have ruled that the summit’s structure does not allow for a real debate on the mission of public universities"

More than sixty different student associations gathered at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) on December 1 and 2 for the Rassemblement National Étudiant (RNÉ)—national student conference—to look back on last spring’s student strike and consider courses of action to take for the summit.

From the outset, the participating student associations emphasized the importance of direct democracy in creating a strong balance of power in the face of the state and the economic elite. The open-ended general strike was necessary to escalate pressure tactics in order to win their case and create an unprecedented popular movement. Furthermore, given the numerous court orders the student associations were confronted with, they reaffirmed the importance of solidarity between local student associations in developing the protest movement and implementing strike mandates. Police repression and the judicialization of the conflict have been condemned by the delegates present. The RNÉ has therefore taken a position in favour of withdrawing all criminal and civil charges filed against those arrested during the strike, as well as institutional charges brought against the professors and students involved.

After many discussions about the PQ government’s education summit and the outcome of the first preparatory meeting, the student associations ruled that the summit’s structure does not allow for a real debate on the mission of public universities, and for this reason, the RNÉ invited student associations to look into the possibility of demanding real civic assemblies (états-généraux) as an alternative to the summit. Beyond the choice of student delegations to participate in the summit or not, local associations have discussed the need for ongoing efforts to express their disagreement with planned measures such as indexing tuition and introducing quality assurance. To this end, the RNÉ is calling on student associations to join forces for a side event to February’s summit in support of education that is accessible, emancipatory, free of charge, free from interference by the economic elite, and non-discriminatory.