Guelph Student Mobilization Committee – Who Are We?
Wednesday, September 5, 20120 Comments
By: the Guelph Student Mobilization Committee
The Guelph Student Mobilization Committee (GSMC) was created this summer at the University of Guelph by a group of students inspired by the Quebec Student Strike. This movement demonstrates that youth today are not apathetic, and are ready to lead the popular struggle for social change. All across the world student movements have exploded: from Quebec, to California, to Chile, they are organizing and making it clear that youth are ready to take action for a better future.
Guelph Student Mobilization Committee Basis of Unity:
1 - We stand in solidarity with Québec students in their ongoing struggle against their government.
2 - We campaign for a free, accessible, public post-secondary education system; as a corollary, we also demand student debt amnesty.
3 - We oppose Bill 78, introduced by the Québec government to crack down on the student movement, and all other attacks on our democratic rights.
4 - We also recognize that this struggle for accessible tuition is connected to a larger emerging movement of resistance against the general austerity measures that are being imposed on the populations in this country and across the world.
Students in Quebec are facing a 75 per cent tuition fee increase over the next five years. They have organized on the ground in campuses across the province to combat this vision of austerity, fight to stop the hike, and provide an alternative vision that calls for free education. During the Quebec student’s battle they have come in contact with police repression which later took the form of Bill 78 which makes it illegal for citizens to demonstrate without informing police and imposes hefty fines for students that uphold their strikes with strike pickets. Here is a video with interview and protest footage that students from Guelph made about the Quebec Student strike: http://thecannon.ca/news/story/voices_from_the_quebec_student_strike
Meanwhile, in Ontario, students are facing tuition fee increases that are above inflation each year, and since 2006, tuition fees have risen up to 71 per cent. On average, Ontario students graduate $37,000 in debt. Not only are Ontario students faced with rising tuition fees (which are a sign of austerity), but we are also threatened by the Ontario Government reducing the quality of our education. In a leaked document from within the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, government policy makers have revealed they want 3 out of 5 of our classes to be offered online, and more 3-year degrees with mandatory summer semesters. In a recent report from this same ministry, titled “Strengthening Ontario's Centres of Creativity Innovation and Knowledge,” Minister Glenn Murray writes, “Ontario’s 20 publicly assisted universities contribute to the development of Ontario’s innovation economy through the education of a highly skilled workforce to meet labour market needs and research and development (R&D) activity and commercialization.” Alternatively, the Guelph Student Mobilization Committee believes that university should be emphasized as an institution where students learn to think critically.
It also must be pointed out that the use of the term “publicly assisted universities” is a sign of the times of austerity, as our universities are being increasingly privately funded. GSMC opposes this vision, and calls for Ontario universities to be fully publically funded and free.
All across the world people are now facing austerity budgets in the aftermath of the global recession brought about by greedy bankers and their neoliberal governments. This latest round of attacks includes cuts to social services, privatization of institutions (including post-secondary education through increased user fees), deregulation of environmental policies, increased spending on the military, jails, and policing as well as other pro-corporate, anti-people policies.
We are seeing such austerity attacks right now here in Canada. In Quebec, students began organizing against a 75% tuition hike, the imposition of a flat tax of $200 per citizen for access to health care, and the Plan Nord that will open up protected areas and Indigenous territories in northern Quebec for mining and gas exploitation.
Under the Harper Conservative Government we have seen reduced corporate taxes, deregulation of environmental policy, the introduction of a new program that entrenches the exploitation of migrant workers by allowing employers to pay 15 per cent less to migrant workers than Canadians, increased military spending including the purchase of F-35 Fighter jets at the cost of $29 billion, the denial of access to health care for refugees in Canada, and much more.
In Ontario, people have had to bear rising tuition fees which are more expensive than any other province in Canada, a prospective freeze on the wages of public workers, a freeze in welfare, and many other austerity measures, all while the Ontario government has moved to slash taxes on corporations down to a measly 11 per cent, one of the lowest in North America.
The GSMC wants as many students as possible to get involved in our group. We are committed to building the movement in Ontario through action. Quebec has seen the average student become an advocate for a better, more equitable society. We and many other students across the province want this to happen in Ontario. Let’s spread this energy in order to overturn the balance of power in Ontario from one that perpetuates a society that puts profit ahead of the vast majority of people, to one that is pro-student and pro-people.
Email [email protected] if you want to join the struggle. You can also find us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GuelphStudentMobilizationCommittee
and Twitter: https://twitter.com/GSMC2