The Charlatan is Carleton University’s independent student newspaper run separately from the School of Journalism.
Students at McGill University gathered Nov. 14 for a rally to speak out against the behaviour of police, university administration and campus security guards during the Nov. 10 demonstration against a rise in tuition fees.
A student-led movement took place Nov. 10 at post-secondary schools across Quebec, opposing the tuition hike that will kick in next year. Tuition fees in Quebec will increase by $325 every year until 2016, according to the 2011-12 provincial budget. Currently, undergraduate students in Quebec pay about $2,168 per year in tuition fees.
The protests began peacefully, but later that evening, riot police were called onto McGill’s campus.
“Some of us were pepper-sprayed and others were violently manhandled by police officers,” said McGill student Laurent Bastien Corbell, who was present during the riots.
The Nov. 14 rally was a combined public forum, which began with approximately 200 students, who marched from the main campus towards the James Administration Building, where the riot police clashed with students the previous week.
“The aim of the rally was to protest against the behaviour of the administration and to discuss what happened [Nov. 10],” Corbell said.
A series of speakers, including members of the faculty and representatives from the various graduate and administrative unions, presented for several hours.
Some students also offered first-hand accounts of the tuition hike protests, according to Alexander McKenzie, another McGill student who was also present at the rally.
“The atmosphere was tense but I think healing,” McKenzie said. “We [had] a frank discussion over what we perceived as being the contributing factors that caused [Nov. 10’s events] to escalate.”
“I can’t speak for everyone, but I went to the rally because I want the administration to stop acting so repressively, not just towards students but towards members of the entire McGill community,” Corbell said.
The McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA) has been on strike for months now and aren’t allowed to protest on campus, Corbell said.
“They haven’t been paid in months, and meanwhile, the school is spending thousands of dollars on power washing the Redpath Museum,” Corbell said.
The rally was tame enough for McGill’s principal, Heather Munroe-Blum, to attend, McKenzie said. However, she chose not to speak, and she didn’t look “engaged in the entire process,” he added.
“I would stress that this is just the beginning of a more concerted and inclusive campus activism on McGill campus,” McKenzie said. “We’ve managed to start plenty of debates about policy . . . in the wider community, and we’re trying to turn this momentum into a movement that can set and achieve set goals.”