Wednesday, March 07, 2012


Rick Santorum says parents who would like their kids to have the opportunity to go to college are "snobs."  Rick Santroum is an idiot.  We all knew that already.  What we didn't know is that Quebec apparently agrees with do colleges, universities, states, and countries here, there, and everywhere.  They don't put it the way ole Rick does, but the end result is pretty similar really.  Keeping raising the amount of cash you have to put down to get an education and, well, I guess, only those rich snobs will be getting that education.

I admit I never use to care much about these tuition fights and strict student radicalism.  I was wrong.  Colleges and universities should be open, wide open, to the children of working people and poor people.  Go ahead and charge the rich a bundle, but let others in as well.  Raising rates is really just one more way Capital has of cracking down on and disciplining labor, uh, workers.

Did I say cracking down and disciplining?

That is what the STATE is doing up north of the border in Montreal where students of all shapes and sizes are fighting back.  Time and again over the course of about a week Montreal cops have tear gassed, cracked heads, and busted students fighting against fee hikes.  

Last week, the Coalition against repression and police brutality accused the Montreal force of targeting people for their political beliefs.

A Canadian Press report today reads :
Students converged Wednesday on several provincial buildings, including the liquor commission and the education minister's office, and they momentarily attempted to occupy the Loto-Quebec headquarters which is home to the organization representing university rectors.
Helmeted and shielded police charged a line of students near the Loto-Quebec headquarters after they pushed down a row of metal barriers. They also came in swinging on the front steps of the building, knocking away students who were blocking the entrance.
One student said police overreacted, claiming he was "brutalized" for a simple act of civil disobience. Frank Levesque-Nicole was hit by a baton in the base of his skull and was blinded with blasts of pepper spray by the group of officers who surrounded him.
"I was only standing there blocking the door, but obviously the cops didn't see it that way," Levesque-Nicole said. "They ... hit us very hard.
"I saw people with nosebleeds, which basically was uncalled for. The biggest weapon people had were snowballs — what kind of a threat is a snowball to someone in full body armour?"
Five students were arrested, some tackled by police who fixed plastic ties around their wrists before hauling them away.
The boom of volleys of tear gas echoed through the street as riot-squad officers laid down a curtain of gas among the protesters, sending many stumbling away coughing and rubbing at their eyes. Some protesters apparently gained a brief entry at Loto-Quebec headquarters but were moved out. Others jostled a row of police bicycles, while some tossed objects at officers.

Oh, Canada...

The following is from The Eyeopener.


0 Comments 07 MARCH 2012
VictorTangermannPhoto courtesy of Victor Tangermann
By Sean Tepper 
Associate News Editor
Tens of thousands of university and college students across Quebec have abandoned their classrooms in an attempt to pressure their government over planned tuition hikes.

Although most of Quebec’s francophone post-secondary institutes have been on strike since February, March 6 saw Quebec’s first anglophone university take part in the strike. Concordia University voted in favour of boycotting classes as of next week.

Other English institutes such as McGill University and Dawson College are expected to vote on the matter later in the week. As it stands, the proposed tuition hikes would see the costs of universities in Quebec increase by $325 per year to a total of $3,793 in 2016- 17; a 75 per cent increase from the $2,168 that students paid in 2011- 12.

These plans were originally announced by Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand in his 2010 budget, as part of the provincial government’s plan to increase the total funding received by universities to $850 million within the next five years.

According to Statistics Canada, Canadian tuition fees have gone up by more than $600 since 2007, with the 2011-12 average expected to rise to $5,366. Amongst Canada’s 10 provinces, Quebec had the lowest average tuition fees in 2010-11 with the average student paying $2,411 per year, while students in Ontario topped the list as they paid an average of $6,640 per year.

Students are arguing that increasing tuition rates will not only discourage people from attending university, but will also increase student debt and further limit their already tight budgets.

“I think it’s a good way for students to show [the government] that they are serious,” said Marco Bertoldi, a second-year engineering student at Concordia University in Montreal. “As a student who lives on his own, $400 makes a huge difference for someone who makes around $10,000 a year. That’s one month’s rent, two months of groceries or that could pay for three classes worth of books.”

While Ontario universities have not yet gotten to the point of declaring a student strike, they have been active in protesting against the province’s tuition fees. Melissa Palermo, Ryerson Students’ Union’s VP education, led nearly 200 Ryerson students on the Feb. 1 nationwide drop fees campaign and is encouraged by what she is seeing from Quebec students.

“It’s really empowering to see students coming together and really calling on their government for what they deserve, and that’s affordable high-quality education,” she said.

Although Palermo believes that it should be up to the government to publicly fund high-quality postsecondary institutions, Ryerson President Sheldon Levy does not see that being a realistic possibility with tuition costs going up five per cent per year and the $16-billion government deficit unlikely to cover it.

“You’re always balancing the ability to provide the quality of the education with the cost of doing [so],” said Levy. “You are in some ways forced to be able to make the argument that fees have to increase and then you make the case that you will provide the additional support for those students that can’t afford it.”

Levy said that he will be taking a proposal to the board of governors that would aim at increasing tuition fees, but that the university will make sure to have enough funds for students in financial needs. Steve Lada, a second-year business management student, understands why tuition fees continue to increase, but is not happy about it.

“The student tuition fees are pretty high, but we’re getting good stuff out of it,” he said. “[The five per cent increases] make sense with all the construction being done, but that doesn’t mean I want to pay it.”

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