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Gabrielle Duchaine August 8, 2012
Photo caption: Garda security agents in front of UQAM Tuesday night. Photo credit: Robert Skinner, La Presse.
With less than one week before what students are calling the “rentrée forcée” (forced return to classes), CEGEPs are doing everything they can to keep things from getting out of hand. Many have hired security guards, and a meeting is even scheduled for this morning with the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) to discuss operations having to do with the return to classes, La Presse has learned.
”We want to know what police officers believe are their obligations regarding the special law,” explains Dominique Arnaud, of the Federation of CEGEPs, which is made up of 48 establishments, of which 14 are still affected by the student conflict. Representatives of the Federation and members of the SPVM will meet this morning (August 8, 2012), at 10:00 A.M.
The special law requires CEGEPs to “take appropriate action to allow delivery of educational services” when classes return. This is a real puzzle for these establishments, even before considering that strike pickets and other disruptions are already planned. They seek to avoid clashes like those at Collège Lionel-Groulx, where striking students blocked passage of other students armed with an injuction saying they were to be let through. Sûreté du Québec agents then doused students with tear gas. College directors have a mandate to report to the minister of education if parts of the law are not being respected at their facilities. A decision to call police will then be made on a case-by-case basis.
“We are teachers. We don’t want to see scenes of violence,” says Jean Beauchesne, president-director of the Fédération des CEGEPs. ”But we want for people to be able to go to their classes if they so desire.”
It is for this reason that many CEGEPs have taken measures to increase security.
“Most CEGEPs have brought on more security personnel so that the return to classes happens calmly, and so that people who want to return to classes can do so,” says Arnaud. She says there is a limit to what security staff can do, however. ”They cannot break through a picket line or do police interventions,” she explains.
At Cégep de Saint-Jérôme, many new guards have been brought on “so that all goes smoothly” when classes resume on August 16. It is expected that certain aspects of the special law will be applied word-for-word, such as the directive to stay 50 metres away when protesting and to not block access to those who wish to enter. ”If that happens, we will report it,” says Guylaine Gagné, the CEGEP’s communications service co-ordinator. Management has met with local police to discuss what kinds of interventions might be requested from law enforcement.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.