Letter to the editor: Solidarity from McGill University

We are writing to offer our solidarity in the aftermath of the events that occurred on your campus on Nov. 18 and to express full support for the general strike you called for Nov. 28. Like so many others around the world, we have followed the stories, photos and videos that emerged from your university and are horrified by the police brutality you endured as well as the inadequate response to it from your administration. At the same time, we are heartened by your steadfast actions and the ways in which you continue to mobilize as a community.

The struggles you face — massive tuition fee increases, cuts to public education and other social services, the securitization of your campuses and the criminalization of student dissent — are struggles that we face here too. On Nov. 10, 200,000 university and college students across the province of Quebec staged a one-day strike and 35,000 marched in Montreal against a proposed 75 percent tuition fee increase.

This demonstration was followed by a student occupation of the James Administration Building at McGill University to protest McGill’s unfair labour practices and central role in lobbying the Quebec government for higher tuition fees. The 14 student occupiers were beaten by campus security personnel and two hundred supporters demonstrating outside were clubbed, pepper sprayed, tear-gassed and ultimately forced off campus by riot police.

As you know, similar scenes have recently taken place at UC Berkeley and CUNY’s Baruch College, and these recall earlier confrontations in Puerto Rico, Chile, the United Kingdom, Greece and elsewhere. The students affected by these events all stand for the same principles: freedom of speech and assembly, accessible post-secondary education and the democratization of all facets of university life.  Increasingly, crucial decisions about our universities are being made by a small but interconnected group of administrators whose primary allegiance is to the corporations that direct their governing boards, not the students, faculty and staff who make up our communities.

We have just learned that our own principal, Heather Munroe-Blum, sits on your Chancellor’s Board of Advisors. We are also aware that your Chancellor, Linda Katehi, has served as an advisor to the Greek government, which recently abolished the nearly 40-year old law that had banned police from entering university campuses upon her recommendation. These are not mere coincidences.

Given the international context of the challenges we collectively face, our student movements cannot remain isolated from one another. As we strive to build strong relationships across national borders, we can learn from each other’s experiences and continue our struggles knowing that we stand together in solidarity. The students of McGill University are with you, now and always.

The students of Nov. 10
McGill University, Montreal, Quebec

7 Comments on this Post

  1. TAFKAUCDGradstudent1

    E pluribus unum.

  2. TIME FOR A HISTORY LESSON. I am a UWashington Alumni, 3 years at UCB, and my opinion is that Occupy protestors are exactly where they should be. This country was founded on and continues to be historically rooted to the premises and promises of its original founders, the Pilgrims, who left an oppressive system in their home lands (plural) and brought with them an incontrovertible tradition of freedom and liberty. Their legacy is not just religious freedom. They arrived here in protest against the financial oppression and contractual slavery that they were forced into by government (plural) corruption, the same issues that Occupy protests. Histocailly, they refused to sign a reciprocal contract with the builders of the Mayflower and their governmental agents which would have committed them to financial slavery (indenture) to sell back all they made and all they grew and then committed them to sell back their lands after 7 years of living in the New Land, America, in return for ship and passage. Their response then was to tear up that contract in the face of the contracting agent, kick him off the ship, and sail to the new work unencumbered by that abominal intolerable system. That is the history that Occupy supports and continues. There is no other historical legacy for America than this. It has been challenged repeatedly and IT WILL NOT BE REPLACED. I support all Occupy protestors – even those smoking their way through this historical time and circumstance. You are the most intelligent generation since the Cro Magnons of fire, and are doing exactly what needs to be done.

    Of note aside, Chancellor, you have no right to hire as protection and uniform the men/women that use the industrial mace, tasers and night sticks as you allowed the past month on these peaceful demonstrators. Chancellor, you and I remember Berkeley in the 60’s. How many times must we fire these pretenders to police practices before you realize they are unfit for these duties! ever unfit! I have worked with homeland security and local police, presidential guards, and armed forces units in my lifetime – and it is inexcusable that this is happening on college campuses. These military practices on unarmed civilians is illegal, immoral, and inexcusable. You must weed these persons out who order these protocols and those who “practice” them. I assure you these are untimately permanent injuries they are inflicting on these young people! My best to you always,
    Dee J.

  1. By kredit ohne schufa on April 28, 2013 at 10:39 am

    kredit ohne schufa…

    Ja, als ob dem Drange, Verbindungen zu erzwingen, gar nichts heilig waere, dient nun der teure Name Bruecke (Wortbruecke Seite oben) dazu, mich an dasselbe Institut zu erinnern, in dem ich meine gluecklichsten Stunden als Schueler verbracht, sonst ganz…

  2. By onlinekredit on April 27, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    onlinekredit…

    Dies war grade nicht _sehr_ merkwuerdig Alice fand es auch nicht _sehr_ ausserordentlich, dass sie das Kaninchen sagen hoerte: O weh, o weh!…

  3. By Oh Canada? | In Pursuit of Happiness on April 26, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    […] Thursday, April 26, 2012 Dedicated to all the students in Quebec who have peacefully hit the streets to protest AUSTERITY! I had no idea that there were so many of you protesting As is so typical the msm is absent/downplaying and lying! They do not want the rest of Canada aware. They do not want the rest of the world aware. Protestors are being attacked by the Surete de Quebec. (provincial police force) The Surete has a history of brutality. The Surete has a history of using provocateurs.I have borrowed this entirely from Axis of Logic-We hear endlessly about so called protestors in Syria and their government oppression. Which is bullshit. In Canada the NATO media complies with the powers that be, therefore large protests against Austerity do not exist On an unseasonably warm day in late March, a quarter of a million postsecondary students and their supporters gathered in the streets of Montreal to protest against the Liberal government’s plan to raise tuition fees by 75% over five years.  As the crowd marched in seemingly endless waves from Place du Canada, dotted with the carrés rouges, or red squares, that have become the symbol of the Quebec student movement, it was plainly obvious that this demonstration was the largest in Quebec’s, and perhaps Canadian, history. The March 22nd Manifestation nationale was not the culmination but the midpoint of a 10-week-long student uprising that has seen, at its height, over 300,000 college and university students join an unlimited and superbly coordinated general strike.  As of today, almost 180,000 students remain on picket lines in departments and faculties that have been shuttered since February, not only in university-dense Montreal but also in smaller communities throughout Quebec. The strike has been supported by near-daily protest actions ranging from family-oriented rallies to building occupations and bridge blockades, and, more recently, by a campaign of political and economic disruption directed against government ministries, crown corporations, and private industry.  Although generally peaceful, these actions have met with increasingly brutal acts of police violence: Student protesters are routinely beaten, pepper-sprayed, and tear-gassed by riot police, and one, Francis Grenier, lost an eye after being hit by a flashbang grenade at close range.  Meanwhile, college and university administrators have deployed a spate of court injunctions and other legal measures in an unsuccessful attempt to break the strike, and Quebec’s premier, Jean Charest, remains intransigent in spite of growing calls for his government to negotiate with student leaders. So, why haven’t you heard about this yet? While the Quebec student strike is comparable in scale to student movements in Europe and Latin America, it is entirely unique in the context of Canada and the continental United States, which makes the absence of media coverage outside the province puzzling at best and disturbing at worst.  As the veteran Canadian activist Judy Rebick observed in a recent rabble.ca column, “it is incredible that there has been almost no coverage of this extraordinary uprising of young people in Quebec in English Canada,” and, save for a brief mention on Democracy Now!, the movement has been ignored by even the independent American press.  A key factor, certainly, is language: Quebec is a predominantly French-speaking province with a fully separate media infrastructure, and its famously militant student unions, which are responsible for organizing the strike, operate largely independently of the academic and activist networks that link the rest of the continent.  In this sense, English and French North America exist as two solitudes in much the same way that English- and French-speaking Quebecers once did—that is, they live in close quarters but don’t actually talk to each other very much. Still, language differences are no excuse for overlooking this important student movement.  Montreal, the province’s cultural capital, is a bilingual city and student leaders have made efforts to ensure that strike information is available on English Web sites, Facebook groups, and Twitter feeds.  Further, the English student media, based at Montreal’s Concordia and McGill universities, have provided consistent and often excellent coverage of the strike and related protests.  Even the national Canadian press has finally picked up the story, albeit without addressing the larger historical and political context of the strike or its connection to the austerity measures that are being imposed on students and workers across Canada and around the world.  More promisingly, next weekend’s Edufactory conference, The University is Ours!, is holding a special plenary session on tuition struggles in Quebec, which will help to raise awareness of the events that have fueled le printemps québécois.  At the very least, the student strike should serve as inspiration to social movements far beyond Quebec’s borders, as well as an urgent call to solidarity. […]

  4. […] Still, language differences are no excuse for overlooking this important student movement.  Montreal, the province’s cultural capital, is a bilingual city and student leaders have made efforts to ensure that strike information is available on English websites, Facebook groups, and Twitter feeds.  Further, the English student media, based at Montreal’s Concordia and McGill universities, have provided consistent and often excellent coverage of the strike and related protests.  Even the national Canadian press has finally picked up the story, albeit without addressing the larger historical and political context of the strike or its connection to the austerity measures that are being imposed on students and workers across Canada and around the world.  More promisingly, next weekend’s Edufactory conference, The University is Ours!, is holding a special plenary session on tuition struggles in Quebec, which will help to raise awareness of the events that have fuelled le printemps québécois.  At the very least, the student strike should serve as inspiration to social movements far beyond Quebec’s borders, as well as an urgent call to solidarity. […]

  5. […] This letter was published on Nov 29th in the UCDavis paper, The California […]

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