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Tag Archive - campus activism

Lessons from the CUPE 3902/3903 Strikes at UofT and York

By Umair Muhammad

The simultaneous strikes at the University of Toronto and York University have come to an end. Teaching and Graduate Assistants at both universities (joined in the beginning by Contract Faculty at York) walked picket lines through much of the month of March after contract negotiations with their respective employers broke down.

Following repeated avowals that it could not possibly provide what was being asked of it, York ended up agreeing to meet all of the major demands made by its striking workers. In the case of the strike at UofT, the outcome was not as decisive.


Student Power, Worker Activism and the Democratic University

By Alan Sears

There are some very important campus struggles unfolding in early March 2015.


Occupy Actions: From Wall Street to a Campus Near You?

By Alan Sears

The Occupy Wall Street movement and the mobilizations of the "indignant" in Europe have sparked solidarity actions in many places around the world. October 15, 2011 was a massive day of action that included over 60 marches in Spain, a huge demonstration of over 100 000 in Rome and Occupy actions in cities and towns across North America and in many other places.


Austerity U: Preparing Students for Precarious Lives

By Alan Sears and James Cairns

Almost everywhere you look around the world, policy-makers are introducing big changes to university systems and pondering deeper transformation.It isn't surprising that these changes take different forms on campuses in countries as different as Canada, Britain, the United States, Chile, Greece, and India, but there are also important common themes in the change agenda globally. These include rapid increases in tuition fees, new models of university governance, new ways of teaching, a significant shift in subject matter, an attempt to depoliticize campuses, and major alterations in employment relations.


Defederate or Organize? The Student Left and the Canadian Federation of Students

By Doug Nesbitt

A September 4 press release published on Rabble has once again stirred debate among left-wing student activists about the Canadian Federation of Students. A network of left-wing students are at the forefront of a coordinated effort across 15 different campuses to gather sufficient signatures to initiate referendum campaigns on CFS membership.

Other left-wing students have responded with incredibly sharp criticisms, the most incendiary being the claim that defederation will actually aid the Right on campuses.


Building a Movement: Reflections from the Québec Student Strike

Montreal activist and artist Stefan Christoff's zine Le fond de l'air est rouge [The essence of the air is red], a collection of articles about the Québec "Red Square" mass movement of 2012, has recently been published by Howl! Arts Collective. New Socialist Webzine interviewed Stefan about the movement, its effects and its lessons. We present the interview along with a series of political art works in the online exhibit by the École de la Montagne Rouge.

Q1: The 2012 student movement in Québec grew into a broader popular movement of a kind that hasn't happened in Canada or Québec for decades. What role did radical left students of different kinds play in building the movement among university and CEGEP students?

Certainly the Québec student strike occurred outside of the world of official politics, far from a stage-managed process, the radical energy on the streets carried forward a combative approach that stood in direct confrontation to the structures of economic and political power in Québec society.


The Battle of York

By Xavier Lafrance

On January 29, 2009, 85 days after it was launched, the longest strike in the Canadian university sector outside of Québec came to an end. This was a strike by some 3400 contract faculty, teaching assistants and research assistants employed by York University and unionized under the banner of CUPE 3903.


Students Occupy Against Contracting-Out in Britain

Contracting-out and other forms of privatization are happening in educational institutions all over the world. Solidarity between students and workers is a crucial part of fighting such moves. In Britain, an impressive student occupation at the University of Sussex against the privatization of services on campus is still in full-swing after three weeks, even expanding, with flash occupations and disruptions of different buildings and events on campus on March 1. Students at Sussex have been inspired by Quebec's student movement, adopting a yellow square as a symbol of their campaign. On February 28, Jeffery R. Webber sat down with Maia Pal, a leading organizer of the campaign, to discuss its origins and dynamics to date.


Campus Fightbacks in the Age of Austerity: Learning from Quebec Students

By Xavier Lafrance and Alan Sears

The 2012 Quebec student strikes delivered one of the few victories we have seen in anti-austerity struggles in the Canadian state. The mobilization, which at its high point saw over 300 000 students on limited or unlimited strike, and demonstrations of hundreds of thousands, was a crucial highpoint that has a great deal to teach radicals. The attempted clampdown by the Charest government through Bill 78 that attempted to outlaw the movement, unleashed a new and innovative round of resistance including the casseroles night marches.


Seeding Divestment: Carleton's Yafa Jarrar discusses BDS campaign

By Ali Mustafa

The divestment report urging Carleton University to divest from companies implicated in Israel's occupation and grave violations of human rights is a true gem for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The report's research, argumentation, corroboration and writing style are impeccable and deeply impressive. In making the case for divestment from Israel, the report from Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) combines the best of both worlds: the commitment to truth and justice of the most sincere and far-sighted human rights defenders and the piercing logic of the most able lawyers. SAIA's time-honoured commitment to just peace and international law, distinguished professionalism and creativity are truly inspiring. They build on the wonderful, pioneering divestment victory at Hampshire College last year to take divestment to the next level. This makes a superb model for the mushrooming divestment campaigns around the world.
The Global BDS Movement


The Continuing Global Slump

By David McNally

This article will be the afterword to the forthcoming Danish translation of the author's book Global Slump: The Economics and Politics of Crisis and Resistance -- NSW.


Against the Right: Defending Public Services in Quebec

By Marie-Eve Rancourt

This is the third article in our series about movement organizing in Quebec today (our article on Profs Against the Hike is here and our article on Montreal-Nord Republik is here).


Profs Against the Hike, or a New Beginning for Faculty Political Action

By Anne-Marie Le Saux and Philippe de Grosbois

During the Quebec student strike this year, CEGEP and university teachers opposed to the tuition fee hike that triggered the student mobilization organized themselves in a network, Profs Contre La Hausse (Profs Against the Hike, PCLH by its French initials), to take action in solidarity with students and against the government's agenda.This organization, independent of union structures, was an important development. We are glad to present this article about PCLH, which was written before the final phase of the student strike -- NSW


Reflections of a Weather Underground Veteran

Review of David Gilbert, Love and Struggle: My Life in SDS, The Weather Underground, and Beyond (PM Press, 2012).

By Kim Moody


Social Blindness: the Union Bureaucracy's Ultimate Sickness

By Rene Charest

In this year's massive and inspiring social movement in Quebec, union mobilizations have been notably weak. We are glad to present an article written for us by Quebecois activist Rene Charest that looks at this important problem -- NSW.


Quebec's "Red Square" Movement: The Story So Far

By David Camfield 

This is a slightly revised and expanded version of an article written for the magazine of the New Anti-Capitalist Party in France. Although it's mainly intended to give readers outside Canada an account of the movement, readers in Canada may find it a useful overview.


Share Our Future: The CLASSE Manifesto

By Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale (CLASSE)

For months now, all over Quebec, the streets have vibrated to the rhythm of hundreds of thousands of marching feet. What started out as a movement underground, still stiff with the winter consensus, gathered new strength in the spring and flowed freely, energizing students, parents, grandparents, children, and people with and without jobs. The initial student strike grew into a people’s struggle, while the problem of tuition fees opened the door to a much deeper malaise – we now face a political problem that truly affects us all. To find its remedy and give substance to our vision, let us cast our minds back to the root of the problem.


Race, Racism and the Quebec Student Movement

By rosalind hampton

Action guided by anti-racist and anti-colonial analysis is essential to imagining and building liberating alternatives to our current social order. The experience of the inspiring movement ignited by Quebec students this year confirms this belief, as questions about its diversity and about incidents of racism have increasingly emerged.


The student movement in Syria and its role in the revolution

By Khalil Habash

Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution, students have played an important role in the  popular movement against the regime of Bashar al Assad.


Red Square, Everywhere: With Quebec Student Strikers, Against Repression

By Xavier Lafrance and Alan Sears

The Charest government has turned to repression to try to break the largest and longest student strike in Quebec history. Students had already endured heavy-handed policing, including hundreds of arrests and brutal attacks by riot cops on campuses and in the streets. The new strikebreaking legislation, Bill 78, is a brutal clampdown on the right to organize collectively and on freedom of expression. The protest plans for any demonstrations of more than 50 people must be cleared with the police in advance of any gathering, or the action will be considered illegal.  Individual students, staff or faculty members who advocate the ongoing strike action risk harsh penalties, and student unions or university employees unions who organize or support ongoing strike activity will face heavy fines.


The Quebec Student Strike: the Meaning of a Crisis

By Pierre Mouterde

There is no doubt that with the 2012 student strike, Quebec is going through a decisive moment in its history. But we must now try to measure its exact reach, if only to understand in which direction we should look for a solution to what is increasingly looking like a major educational, but also social and political crisis.


Massive Student Upsurge Fuels Major Debates in Quebec Society

By Richard Fidler

A crowd estimated at 250,000 people or more wound its way through Montréal April 22 in Quebec's largest ever Earth Day march. They raised many demands: an end to tar sands and shale gas development, opposition to the Quebec government's Plan Nord mining expansion, support for radical measures to protect ecosystems, and other causes. And many wore the red felt square symbolizing support to the province's students fighting the Liberal government's 75 per cent increase in post-secondary education fees over the next five years. The Earth Day march was the largest mobilization to date in a mounting wave of citizen protest throughout the province.


Austerity in the Mind Factory

By Alan Sears

Educational struggles are breaking out all over.


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