They’re not scabs — they’re students
Photo by Shahk via Flickr
This week has been a contentious one as some students, as mandated by Bill 78, are returning to class to finish up the winter semester cut short by the student strikes.
Some of their classmates at Université de Montréal and Université du Québec à Montréal disagreed with their hitting the books, and blocked the entrances to the universities to demonstrate their displeasure.
Because forcing people to support a position always works out well.
A few handfuls of students got cuffed when the police were called to intervene in the altercations. Many of those outraged by this “affront to democracy” cried fascism from the comfort of their Ikea papasan chairs, while others dove right into the action.
These student demonstrations were compared to the Arab Spring early on, and which side of that debate you’re on depends largely on whether you think education is as inalienable a right as freedom of expression.
But we digress. Students blocking entrances — and in some cases even going into classrooms to shame their colleagues for attending class, as if they were scabs — are assholes. A student union is not a trade union created to protect workers’ rights, and students aren’t crossing picket lines by trying to get an education.
Those returning to school should not be protested; they’re simply not shit disturbers. An attempt to get an education regardless of the cost is not illegal — in fact, it’s pretty admirable, considering it’s an unpopular thing to do — and being a student doesn’t mean towing the party line.
And another thing. Many of the students entering classrooms to disrupt classes are covering their faces so as not to be identified, which to us sounds a lot like an unwillingness to take responsibility for one’s convictions and actions.
If you’re going to make a big stink about the return to class and the unpopular policies Jean Charest has been trying to steamroll through the province’s education system, take a real stand. You don’t get the privilege of being anonymous and being a shit disturber in a situation like this one, where getting arrested doesn’t automatically mean having your fingernails removed by a guy in camo wielding a rusty set of pliers. Maybe it just means having to pick up used condoms off the side of the road for 100 hours, a repercussion nowhere near as severe as those seen in Egypt, Syria or Tunisia.
Some people may feel Charest’s government is acting undemocratically by enforcing unpopular tuition policies and rules like Bill 78, but the fact of the matter is that we still live in a democracy, and the biggest event where people can have their voices heard in a democracy — an election — is mere days away. If you don’t like what the Liberals are doing, say so at the polls.
But, really, democracy only seems to be invoked when convenient. Many of the strike votes that happened at Quebec’s post-secondary institutions over the past two weeks had woefully small voter turnouts or questionably small margins, resulting in some schools having to do a re-vote. If one thing is clear from the votes so far, it’s that a small cross-section of students is holding the majority hostage. As life-long Quebecers, that sure sounds familiar to us. ■