Quebec students are currently shaping an inspiring and historic strike against tuition fee hikes. Estimates vary, but it appears that upwards of 200,000 people boycotted classes last week. Many also blockaded the port of Montreal, in an attempt to force a halt to the circulation of commodities and to compel the Charest government to freeze tuition fees. While student associations and departmental assemblies continue to authorize strike actions, the Administration at
the University of Concordia Concordia University has recently announced that it will prosecute, under the University’s Code of Rights and Responsibilities, those who actively participate in the strike. Such prosecutions could result in fines, suspensions, or even permanent expulsions. The University seems intent to employ the Code as a tool to repress student dissent, to break the current strike, and possibly even to exclude strike organizers from campus life.
As students, instructors, and alumni at UC Berkeley who are currently being prosecuted and barred from campus for our participation last fall in a sequence of campus protests, including a series of one-day strikes, we stand in solidarity with students in Quebec and call on Concordia University to grant full amnesty under the Code for all those participating in the strike.
The prosecution of striking students, whether by an apparatus of the State or of the University, casts a pall over campus life. Disciplinary hearings, trials, suspensions and stay-away orders intensify anxieties students already face, as we look out on years of indebtedness and devastated job markets. We strike in order to transform and open up these foreclosed futures. We strike to reclaim and to build the material conditions of collective life and learning.
Political prosecutions seek to reimpose on striking students the very conditions of atomization and precarity produced by educational privatization. While all decisions to strike are made collectively, prosecutions – like debt – seek to isolate and bring to account the individual. In announcing its intention to prosecute only certain individuals who have taken action to defend public education, the Administration at Concordia University has aligned itself with the austerity-imposing Charest government and with the financial institutions that profit from student debt.
We stand against tuition fee increases, student debt, and the prosecution of protesters. We stand with the students at Concordia University, and with all students striking for their futures.
– Chargees from the November 9 Occupy Cal protest at UC Berkeley