Who’s to Blame for the Student Strike Mess?

Does anyone know where this image originated? If so, please inform me.

Until now, I haven’t commented on the madness happening in Montreal streets concerning tuition hikes.  I haven’t commented because my feelings about the tuition hikes, and the resulting student strikes and protests, are, as a friend recently described his own, “nuanced.”

I am not in principle opposed to tuition hikes in Quebec.  I AM opposed to wasteful government and university spending, and I am most certainly opposed to the ludicrous Loi 78, a “special law” passed a few days ago which severely restricts the public’s right to protest.  This law, an attempt to quell increasingly fevered demonstrations around the city, has made things much, much worse, and it’s hard to believe that the provincial government actually thought the effect would be otherwise.  (Everyone else in the province seemed to understand, as soon as the law was proposed, that it was a really bad idea.)

I mostly haven’t commented because I haven’t felt clear enough about the issue to put my feelings into words, especially my feelings that I wasn’t entirely on the side of the people protesting.  So I was relieved, today, to come across this elucidation by (formerly local) curmudgeon, protesters’ darling, and wonderful writer Mike Spry.  He’ll break it down for you:

100 Days of Blame

At the end of his post, he explains the problems with the student argument and the perspective that the students needed to take from the beginning in order to win public sympathy.  It is helpful to anyone who feels conflicted.  I’m still not entirely clear about my position (except my position that Loi 78 is a stupid, stupid law – who does that?)  Spry’s article, however, has articulated a few things I wasn’t able to straighten out for myself.


8 thoughts on “Who’s to Blame for the Student Strike Mess?

  1. Dear blogger,

    I am a teacher in Brasil ( yes, we write with an S) and completelly agree with almost all your comments, mostly when you mention how difficult it is sometimes to grade papers. I followed the comments you had on that specific topic. People , students in general, and here in Brasil it is not different, have the tendency to take things too personal, when we, as teachers try to make them general. Some of the images used in response to that post “ten reasons I hate….” were frankly ridiculous, like the one which suggested that (we) teachers should be more understanding ( get off the high horse, said one)…. That´s why education is a field that does not attract many professionals…. Together with all the problems one has to face with sensitive egos….. Give us a break !

    All the best,



  2. Seems to me.. being from another province… that even if they argued and were on strike to protest a rising student debt, most provinces still may not sympathize with their cause due to having the lowest tuition fees, thus the lowest student debt – supposedly! Who knows if their actions will help their cause. Time will tell. Personally, I’m against anything that may incite violence, but if they want to protest peacefully. go for it.


  3. For me, it is the lawless thugs who ruined it for me — I care far less about students who want frozen or rolled-back tuition than I do about students who tried going to classes (before and after court injunctions) and were prevented from doing so. I care more for the many citizens inconvenienced — and worse — by those who have created such chaos that people missed work, missed other important appointments, and much else. The radicals, the anarchists, the far leftists, have killed it for me. I’m empty.


  4. I think that the whole thing has completely blown out of proportion. First student indignation, now a popular movement expressing whatever grudge one may hold towards the authorities. A rising new social consciousness? Allow me to laugh!
    The law 78? A joke! What is all the ado about? Anyone can still take up any cause and demonstrate for or protest against it. The only thing one has to do now is to announce it a few hours ahead of time (understandable for logistic reasons!). No masks? Of course! If you want to voice your opinion or smash things up, have at least the guts to take full responsibility for it! Fines for transgression of the law? Of course, it’s a law – you disobey, you pay, that’s just natural. Anyway, considering that 77% of Quebec’s student population has normally and quietly finished their winter/spring term, I wonder why the rest, a blatant minority, was allowed to make such a wind in the first place. In terms of demographic democracy, they obviously should have just shut up and take up again their pens and papers to see their terms through instead of making life for so many others more difficult. It wouldn’t surprise me if the so-called student movement is part of some kind of covertly orchestrated scheme with a hidden agenda.
    I feel that the government has proposed several fair deals but was always bugged down by the stubbornness of student leaders. Institutions of public education are subject to economic competition and have to be substantially financed to persist, the general costs rise continuously, and students and their parents (if applicable) are not except from providing their share. There is financial mismanagement and corruption? Perhaps, but, in my opinion, they should be handled independent of the students’ demands. Like it or not, these are the dynamics of the prevalent capitalistic system. You want to change the system? Come up with a viable alternative first! Just making noise and stutter platitudes is not enough!
    And even with the tuition hike, Quebec students will continue to pay the lowest fees in the country. You want a totally free post-secondary education like it is available, for example, in some northern European countries? Then you must be lucky enough to be sponsored by a socially minded citizenry who is willing to pay about 50% of tax. In North-America, on the other hand, people seem only to want more and more public services and freebies while refusing to also pay more into the communal pot that finances all.
    The best model would be the one suggested and recently initiated by two profs from Stanford University – free higher education for all and via the net, no more or only a very few physical universities worldwide. So far and grudgingly consented to by Stanford, they offer free online courses on AI.
    And banging the pots in streets? Boy, if I would still live in Montreal and the crowds would disturb my cherished tranquility, I would sniper them with a pellet gun! Anyway, when I see the manifestations on TV, I can’t avoid the feeling that, for the most part, it’s not people who are out there because they have a serious message to pass but people who enjoy themselves and the hullaballoo because it makes their lives a little less boring. WTF? Geeze, guys, get a grip…
    That’s my take of it.


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