Here are some ideas that came out of the Teach-in at the School of Community and Public Affairs on Thursday. Feel free to comment with other ideas. (Compiled from contributions from Kris and Chris.)
1) Don’t go to class, but still come to school!
- This is the point of the strike as it stands right now. Think of students as the “capital” of the university. Anybody who has taken any economics course knows that if the capital of an institution is bottle-necked or stopped altogether then the whole institution grinds to a halt. This is our collective power and has historically been students’ strongest source of power.
- There is no obligation to be part of the hard picket line — if you are for the strike but not comfortable blocking professors, you can still show your support for the strike by remaining outside the classroom and engaging with your peers about why you have taken this position. Signage is optional but certainly adds a little “picket-line-y-ness” to the picket line. Other typical picket-line things like marching and chanting have not been part of the approach so far, but if this is what inspires you, go for it.
- Picketing your own class is important because your peers, your professor and yourself are in a particular context depending on the course, the nature of the lectures, materials and assignments. Collective action is about coming together! Only together can you come to an agreement about how to proceed during the strike.
- It is hard to show up to picket a class when your classmates don’t show up. Remember, for many people this is their first strike and it is sometimes hard to know what to do next. If you notice that someone who had expressed interest or support of the strike is missing from your class picket, you may want to invite them to join you next time. You can often contact your classmates directly through Moodle, or can communicate through class forums online.
2) Come and talk to us!
- The Geography & Environment strike headquarters is located on the 7th floor of the Hall building in the CSU lounge. We conduct all of our business in plain view of the student body and administration. Nothing happens behind closed doors and we would love for you to come by and talk to us about your support/anger/confusion/anything at all. We want to hear from YOU even if you are from a different department or not even a student.
- We are NOT an exclusive group, their is no initiation process and their is no hierarchy. Everybody under the sun is welcome to come and help out. Some of us are comfortable speaking to classes of 200 and some of us are more comfortable preparing the pamphlets or updating the social media. Some of us are comfortable “hard picketing” and some us are not. Your level of involvement is up to you and you will not be asked to do anything that conflicts with your comfort zone or ethics.
3) Learn more about the tuition hike and the various tactics being used to fight it
- There are several great websites that are supported by groups of people who have been working hard for over a year to dissect and fight the hikes.
4) Wear the red square!
- The red square has been a symbol of resistance in Quebec since long before the tuition increase. For Quebec students in 2012 it is symbolic of the desire for accessible education. The red square does not imply any preference in tactics or any political allegiance. It is simply your way of telling the world that you want education to stay accessible in Quebec.
- Stop by in the information tables in the Library atrium or come and see us up on the 7th floor of the Hall building to pick up your red square and fill your pockets with them to give to your friends
5) Talk to your friends!
- You don’t need to be in support of picket lines to be in support of accessible education, and neither do your friends. One of the easiest and most effective tactics to change government policy is to simply get people informed about the issue. The more people who are informed and talking about it the harder it will be for the government to sneak their agenda through. They want people distracted and oblivious, we want them informed and opinionated.
- Again, come and visit us at the headquarters or stop by the info tables in the Library Atrium and grab some pamphlets and red squares to give to your friends.
6) Talk to your professors!
- Most teachers are against the hike. They know there is nothing in the “new” funding that increases their pay, improves classroom conditions or increases their academic freedom. In fact, most teachers know that as the “public” education system becomes more and more privatized their rights and value in the system decreases. They stand to lose control of their curriculum and see their wages stagnate as administrative pay skyrockets. Talk to your teachers about the tuition increase and the strikes. Let them know how you feel. Remember, you are the lifeblood of the university.
- Teachers are contractually obligated to show up to class and attempt to teach the course material. However if they are blocked from doing this they have complete discretion over what to do next. There have been several very positive examples where teachers have been unable to hold their class due to strike activity, but instead hold informal discussions with their students. These discussion can be about anything that is not being graded. A few examples are a geography professor who had an open discussion with his students about picket-line history and a theater professor who talked about script development.
- As labs are not being blocked under the URBS or CSU strike mandates, so lab time might be the perfect opportunity to discuss course accommodations or the ways your class can contribute to the strike.
7) Organize your own teach-in!
- Even if your professor is not interested in having an extra-curricular discussion that doesn’t mean that learning has to stop. Organize with your classmates to continue your learning outside of the classroom environment. Maybe there is something in the course that interests you but does not get a lot of attention, talk about it! Talk about the course material so that you are prepared for when the strike is over! This can be a great opportunity to connect with your peers in a fun and non-hierarchical environment. You don’t need to support the strike to benefit from the free time it gives you.
8) Re-claim student space!
- If you have been at Concordia for a couple years you may noticed how more and more the public space that is supposed to be for students to socialize and study is getting turned into private space where you must buy a coffee or a pastry just to sit down. You may have noticed the proliferation of corporate advertising in the bathrooms and on the walls and in the tunnels. Students are being treated more and more as marketing opportunities rather then as scholars.
- So we need to re-claim this space. Cover ads with art, sit and study where you please. Knit-bomb anything that is knit-bombable. Be creative! Be artistic! Take initiative!