Statement from SAGE (Graduate English Students)

Ratified 15 March 2012.

On March 6th, the Graduate Students Association of Concordia University held a general assembly and voted to strike in protest of proposed tuition fee increases. The GSA strike called for a cessation of class attendance and coursework for all graduate students at Concordia beginning on March 12th, 2012.

SAGE has held meetings to form consensus among graduate students in English in response to the general strike. We will continue to meet on a weekly basis to re-evaluate the terms of our strike-related action.

As a result of a meeting held March 15th there was strong majority agreement to take the following action:

1. Students enrolled in courses will not attend classes on the campus of Concordia University for the duration of the strike, in solidarity with the mandate of several thousand students involved in student protests in Quebec.

2. Students will not be handing in coursework or assignments for the duration of the strike. We will continue to engage in research, writing, and the completion of assignments, but work will not be submitted until the end of the strike.

3. Students will meet every Thursday at 3PM to discuss and ratify strike action. All students and faculty members are encouraged to attend these meetings in LB 681. SAGE’s appointed strike committee can be contacted at sageonstrike@gmail.com.

In addition to these measures that directly affect our coursework and attendance, we will also be actively participating in GSA-endorsed strike action, including public demonstration and protest.

These measures are in solidarity with over 150,000 students striking province-wide, a strike supported by two major Quebec labour unions, the Confédération des syndicats nationaux and the Centrale des syndicats du Québec, representing over 500,000 workers.

Our actions are in protest of changes in fee structures that are wide-reaching and impact all students, as they are reflective of a tendency toward the commodification of education, as opposed to a collectively-funded system that values education as a fundamental right. These changes include an intended 75% increase in tuition fees for Quebec students, scheduled to take place over the next five years, as proposed by the Liberal government. The fee increases are in direct opposition to vocal criticism from large numbers of students, workers, and other community members. We feel the proposed increase is in direct contradiction to our values concerning open access to education, and is not to the benefit of the quality of our education, now or in the future. We ask for negotiation in terms of three problematic areas of the tuition fee increase: the timing of the implementation of potential tuition increases, the amount of potential increases relative to cuts in government funding, and the lack of transparency as to the allocation of the institutional spending of student fees.

As students and academics, we are invested in the province’s educational institutions, and we oppose the government action to increase tuition fees.

We ask for the understanding, support and encouragement of faculty, and wish to encourage conversation and dialogue between students and instructors. We also ask for the support of our colleagues to show solidarity for our protest.


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