Students in Quebec are rising up and fighting back against tuition increases. For over three months there has been a strike comprising of as many as nine percent of the province's students, with marches and rallies night and day against the March 2011 decision to raise tuition by $325 a year for five years. The largest of these occurred on May 22 with estimates ranging from 250,000 to 500,000 students and supporters taking the streets to celebrate the 100 day anniversary of the strike despite laws making such demonstrations illegal. It has been said to be the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. Of course, news coverage of all this in the United States is scant, at best, and in Canada tends to have an interesting violent spin in what are widely called peaceful protests. In fact, there is evidence of unprovoked police violence in the area around the protests, with police pepper spraying bar patrons.
This struggle over tuition is nothing new.
Not for students in Montreal, who have been successfully fighting government cuts and tuition increases for years. Not in London where students marched against fee increases and privatization of the university system in 2011. Not for students in the United States who have been facing their own issues.
At Florida International University, where I am a senior, tuition and fees have increased in every budget, at least, since 2009 and is expected to again on the upcoming budget, set to be approved next month. This is in addition to the already approved fee increases which were passed despite student representatives voting no across the board. University of Central Florida just approved a 15 percent hike in tuition and fees as well for the upcoming year. These increases come at a time when there is less money available to help students pay for their classes, not to mention books and other costs associated with being a student, forcing them to take loans and hope that they can find a job, in an already full job market, when they graduate.
The air is getting warmer here in the United States; we are feeling the warm air flowing down from our brothers and sisters in Canada. As spring comes to an end and summer approaches, students are getting organized. We are looking at what is happening in Canada and we are taking notes from professors in a new form of radical education. The ubiquity of social networking and citizen journalism has made mass media repression more and more of a moot point. We see what is happening despite it not being reported. We are hearing the calls for international solidarity. Pleas, not for help, but for hope that we may follow in their path and join them. We see that the Canadian students are winning the battle and we see what we need to do. We have been provided a framework for success and it is up to us to use it.
On May 27, we will gather to show solidarity for the students in Quebec, we will attempt to make the general public more aware of what is going on, and show Miami that we are watching, we are learning and we are growing impatient.