The Chronicle of Higher Education: The Biggest Student Uprising You’ve Never Heard Of
April 23, 2012, 5:32 am
By Marc Bousquet
250,000 students pack the streets in largest demo in Quebec history
A guest post by Lilian Radovac. (BTW, SoCal readers may want to know that Marc is speaking at UC-Irvine a 4 p.m. 4/23 on New Media/New Protests.)
On an unseasonably warm day in late March, aquarter of a million postsecondary students and their supporters gathered in the streets of Montreal to protest against the Liberal government’s plan to raise tuition fees by 75% over five years. As the crowd marched in seemingly endless waves from Place du Canada, dotted with the carrés rouges, or red squares, that have become the symbol of the Quebec student movement, it was plainly obvious that this demonstration was the largest in Quebec’s, and perhaps Canadian, history.
The March 22nd Manifestation nationale was not the culmination but the midpoint of a 10-week-long student uprising that has seen, at its height, over 300,000 college and university students join an unlimited and superbly coordinated general strike. As of today, almost 180,000 students remain on picket lines in departments and faculties that have been shuttered since February, not only in university-dense Montreal but also insmaller communities throughout Quebec.
Aerial news footage of the March 22nd Manifestation nationale
Detroit High School Protest: Students Suspended After Demanding ‘An Education’
About 50 students were suspended Thursday from the all-boys Frederick Douglass Academy in Detroit, Mich. for walking out of classes in protest, demanding “an education.”
Among their complaints: a lack of consistent teachers, the reassignment of the school principal, educators who abuse sick time and a shortage of textbooks.
Over a three day stretch, secondary students organized, marched, walked, spoke, and shouted out against oppressive labour legislation in British Columbia and for their teachers and the BCTF. It’s rare that secondary students get opportunities to unify as a political force at the provincial level, but now in this labour dispute the students are making a difference. On Friday, 2 March, thousands of students walked out of their classes and schools and rallied across the province. In Vancouver, the students descended en masse for a rally at the gallery.
On Tuesday, 6 March, at the BC Fed and BCTF rally hundreds of the youth marched with the unions down Government Street and to the steps of the BC Legislature. For the crowd of 6,000, two young women, Hannah Case and Erin Galbraith, spoke a lotta truth to a power undermining their teachers’ rights. In Vancouver, on 7 March for the rally at the gallery, secondary students Navi Rai and Melissa Wong stood together on the steps and voiced their support for the teachers’ rights and their right to a fair government. Both were active in organizing Friday’s walkout. And raising the roof of nature, Chandler McCorkingdale rapped. Sorry, BC Liberals, the students and the public are standing with the teachers.
Now, where in the world are the missing BC post-secondary students, especially the Education majors? Especially now? I know that some are organizing online. And I know that the Canadian Federation of Students BC is 100% behind the BCTF and the teachers. But across three rallies not a single post-secondary student signed onto the speaker’s lists. Not a single one spoke while thousands of the secondary students have shown their strength as a political force. Perhaps UBC’s Teacher Education Officer John Yamamoto’s interview with the CBC’s Morning Edition on 7 March is telling. Yamamoto advised that the Education students should, nay must, remain neutral. Some advice for the teacher candidates– one gets the sense that he thinks he is advising 700 administration candidates! Where are the post-secondary students and will the CFS BC organize the group to be heard or present?
Posted in BC Education, Disputes, Free speech, K-12 issues, Protests, Strikes & Labor, Student Movement, Students, Unions
Tagged K-12 issues, Strikes & Labor Disputes, Students
It takes a ton of courage for a student to walk out of school and today these young citizens demonstrated en masse across the province. Every teacher should stand proud as their students stand side by side with one voice. Every parent of these kids should feel the payoff. And the students themselves have to know they make the difference for all of us. This is education (see slide show below).
At the Vancouver Art Gallery, at least 1,500 students convened around 2:00 and stood, spoke, and shouted in solidarity with teachers and the BCTF. Students at Eric Hamber Secondary seem to have been the first group, exiting the school around 11:00 this morning. Despite the typically uncooperative weather (5C and rainy), the students were still protesting through the late afternoon.
It has been quite some time since BC saw a student movement but what struck me most was how many showed up and how well organized the demonstration was. These kids know their politics and how to win hearts. Signs everywhere with the critique of the BC government’s decision-making loud and clear, a young woman kicked things off: “BC” she shouted and 1,500 hollered back “students”… “BC” she shouted and 1,500 screamed “teachers.” That’s a solid show of force.
As post-secondary students in BC deal with compounding challenges that seem relentless, let’s hope the high school students spark this from grass roots to an all out BC student movement. Quebec post-secondary students are putting everything on the line right now. Time to take inspiration from the younger crowd to stand up and be heard BC post-secondary students!
BC Students Walk Out March 2012 Slide Show (photos by S. Petrina)
Post-secondary Support of Teachers / BCTF Petition.
Faculty members, librarians, administrators, students, and staff in post-secondary institutions across British Columbia in support of teachers and the BCTF. All bargaining units deserve a fair process of reaching a collective agreement.
This is for post-secondary to demonstrate support and appeal to the BC Premier and Minister of Education. From ICES.