Why should the government or the university care if students boycott class?
Many of the strike informational documents say an open-ended student strike “gives students real leverage” or is “the only strategy that has led to significant gains for students”, but don’t make clear what the mechanisms are at work. I believe that to have an effective strike, we need to know the strategy. Certainly public awareness and debate in the media is part of it, but what makes a strike different than any other demonstration? What is going into this process?
1. Academic logistics
The very things that we as students are afraid of loosing– our grades, our credits, our semester– are the things that the university is afraid of.
What would happen if all the students striking failed this semester? Of course this would reflect badly for the professor’s record, which would show a sudden erratic drop in class averages. But these failed students would need to re-take the failed classes next semester in order to graduate: this means twice as many students registering for the same classes. This “double cohort” is not something the University is equipped to deal with.
There is no mechanism in place to “cancel” a semester; theoretically is is possible but it would require a lot of paperwork. The University is also operating on a deadline, as the collective agreements with the faculty and the looming summer semester hem them in. What this also means is that whatever resolution they come to cannot extend into the summer semester. In 2005, UQAM students who had been on strike for 2 months, saw their “semester extended by a maximum of three to four weeks, courses were condensed and evaluations renegotiated.” (23 Reasons, point 10)
2. Who negotiates for students?
There are a handful of province-wide student associations that represent student interests to the government. This is where you will hear acronyms like FEUQ, ASSÉ, and CLASSE. I hope to do an entire post with more information on these groups and what they mean to you, but it is late and I have a strike to attend tomorrow!
Strategically, what are the implications of this information? What tactics or strategies should students employ to make the strike the most effective within the shortest time? Discuss!
Hope this post was informative and helpful! (and not riddled with grammatical errors).