WLUFA sends support to students in Quebec

With the student demonstrations in Quebec reaching a whole new level, it is beginning to spark various responses from outside the province, including one from the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association (WLUFA). At their general meeting on Thursday, WLUFA approved a motion to donate $10,000 to the striking students in Quebec.

The money will go towards aiding the students with legal fees if they are arrested under Bill 78, a response to these protests made by the Quebec government that enabled them to deem protests without their prior approval illegal.

“I think the major concern for us and many other people is that Bill 78 was introduced by the Charest government in Quebec,” explained Judy Bates, the president of WLUFA and a geography professor at Wilfrid Laurier University. “It is an attempt to curb human rights and people’s freedom to express themselves in a public forum.”

Quebec university students, for the past few months, have been protesting a proposed rise in tuition costs, but, according to Bates, it wasn’t until Bill 78 came into effect that WLUFA felt the need to show their support.

While various organizations and groups from different provinces have been supporting the movements in Quebec, Bates believes that any form of physical protest to materialize in another province such an Ontario is unlikely.

“I was asked if I thought these donations would prompt students to protest and my feeling is unlikely. Tuition fees have been rising about five per cent each year for the last ten to 15 years, and we have not witnessed significant protests in Ontario regarding those huge fee increases,” she said, adding that other faculty associations have donated as well.

To Bates, the lack of engagement in Ontario, as she sees it, is unfortunate.

“It always surprises me that [students] continue to pay the increases, I mean obviously the universities need their money, but the amount of money coming from government is shrinking and the amount of money students are paying is increasing,” she continued.

“I see no efforts by Ontario students to complain too much about their rising tuition fees. It’s interesting, that’s all.”

Bates added that the culture and political climate of Quebec, especially with what happened during the Quiet Revolution in the 1960s, is one of the reasons why a movement like this is occurring. She noted, however, that she does not condone any form of violent protest.

“I don’t think it’s at all helpful to behave in a violent way. But I see nothing wrong with protesting peacefully in the streets,” she added.

According to Bates, the university has not commented on the decision made by WLUFA. She also added that around 50-60 of WLUFA’s members were present at the meeting on Thursday.

For more on this, check out next Wednesday’s issue of The Cord.

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