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Normand Baillargeon August 7, 2012
Original French Text: http://voir.ca/normand-baillargeon/2012/08/07/pensees-sur-la-possible-rentree/
As you may know, I am a professor at UQAM.
Students in my faculty, as in many other CEGEPS and universities, have been on strike for a very long time. They are now subject to a law forcing a return to class and forcing me, as their professor, to teach them. The law in question comes with very severe penalties for those who do not comply.
The situation is, I think, a first, and it is daunting and worrisome on many counts. Here, in no particular order, are a few of my thoughts and feelings on the subject.
For starters, I am outraged at the idea of being ordered to learn or teach. On top of all of the good reasons already invoked by other professors, I would add that education is an activity that presupposes a certain degree of consent, for those learning as for those teaching, and I fear the direction we are headed falls very short of that goal. It is hard to imagine teaching under these circumstances, and I completely understand my colleagues’ initiative concerning the “impossibility of teaching under Bill 78” (in French, also here, in English) and their invitation to protest at the Ministry of Education (Recreation and Sports: the name always irked me, but maybe it refers to the fact that teaching leaves little time for recreation and is hard work!).
Blandine Parchemal July 7 2012
In the July 6 2012 issue of Le Devoir you can read an op-ed entitled “Student movement: the electoral challenge”. In addition to raising some important points regarding the risk of a PLQ electoral campaign bearing the themes of law and order and realizing itself on the backs of the students, it seems to me nevertheless that the verdict put forward regarding the student movement is profoundly unjust in relation to the totality of the work that it has accomplished among Quebecois society during the last few months.
The author starts his text in effect by speaking about “defeat in public opinion”, “big disappointment” and ends by declaring that this could be “the biggest defeat of the Quebec student movement” if the Liberal party is reelected. Of course, if the PLQ are reelected in the next election, we will have a very bitter taste in our mouths. Nevertheless, even if this situation has to be, I won’t necessarily speak of the defeat of the student movement but rather the defeat of Quebec society as it was, and this, because it’s the student movement has always strived for a popular challenge to the current government.’
As for the question of public opinion, listen to us say that we have never really known what they think and that it’s probably not one more survey that will allow us to know more. Also, above and beyond general public opinion on the movement, what interested me much more, is analyzing the evolution of the population’s participation in the movement. And yet, when I see the beauty of the casseroles movement for example, all these people who came out into the streets with us many nights in a row, these children, these grand parents, I can’t resign myself to speak of defeat and still less of disappointment. When I see the popularity of the large protests on the 22nd of each month, the flowering of neighborhood assemblies or simply the totality of these red squares worn proudly, I can’t speak of defeat either.
Jean Baillargeon July 6 2012
Original French text: http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/353974/mouvement-etudiant-le-defi-electoral
After its defeat in public opinion, will the student movement lose the electoral war? The question must be asked. Léger Marketing’s most recent survey from June 16th is merciless with regards to perception of the student movement. You can’t dispute the fact that it’s a big disappointment, despite the good performance of its leaders, who have literally become media rock stars.
In effect, as the survey reveals, 56% of respondents are in favor of the government’s position, against 35% who are instead favorable of the students’ position. With a 21% gap in favor of the government’s desire to increase tuition fees for $254 each year for the next seven years, for a total increase of $1780, the student movement has fallen into the trap of anarcho-spontaneity (the infantile illness of the student movement), of eternal victory of respect, which, for the students, represents a clear economic and social detachment.
Must it be surprised then, in a pre-electoral context, that the student movement is becoming, without being aware and against all expectations, the principal ally of the current government in getting itself reelected during the next election? The stars seem to have aligned, as if by chance, so that the launching of an election coincides with the beginning of the next catch up session at the collegial level planned for August 11th in 14 cégeps still on strike.