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Revolutionary Student Movement to call for student strike 

Photo: Robert Smith, courtesy of the Mcgill Daily

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa’s (SFUO) first general assembly (GA) is slated for Nov. 17, after a year of campaigning.

GAs now act as the highest decision-making body of the SFUO. Discussion and voting at the GA will be based on student-submitted motions. To have their motion discussed, students must organize a petition with 100 signatures and submit it to the SFUO office in the University Centre by 4 p.m. on Oct. 30.

“It will be a very open discussion,” said SFUO president Anne-Marie Roy. “Any issues students want to talk about will be heard.”

The GA effort was introduced by the Revolutionary Student Movement (RSM), then known as the Marxist Student Association, and was backed by the SFUO.

It saw two referendums before it was passed; the first referendum held last October failed to meet quorum, while the second held in February saw the motion pass with 69 per cent of voters in favour, and 9.1 per cent of the overall student body casting a ballot.

For a motion to be successful, one per cent of the undergraduate population—400 students—must be present.

The SFUO has been meeting with the RSM during the process of setting up the GA. “It’s a way of getting support,” said Roy, “and I hope to see other student groups come to us in the coming weeks for discussion.”

“(GAs) are an important step toward a more democratic and politically active campus,” said RSM chairperson Alex Lépine. “We can be more democratic, more militant, and ready to challenge the administration on important issues.”

GAs have a strong tradition on Quebec campuses, and the University of Toronto  and Ryerson University are a couple of Ontario schools that have implemented them.

Alex Boettger of the Board of Administration (BOA) led the formalized campaign against the GA last year.

“It’ll be hard to mobilize students and there aren’t that many spaces that can accommodate these students,” he said in a previous edition of the Fulcrum, adding that 400 people still does not adequately represent the student population of the U of O.

“The best way to be represented at a General Assembly is to show up,” said Roy. “The SFUO will not prevent anyone from participating.”

Cost and space availability were other issues during the campaign, as there is no building on campus large enough to house 400 students.

“Space is an issue,” said Roy, adding that options off-campus were carefully considered. “We want students to be able to actually attend, so it should be close.”

The first GA is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 17 at the Shaw Centre (formerly the Ottawa Convention Centre).

RSM petitions for student strike

The Revolutionary Student Movement (RSM) will call for a student strike at the first general assembly to address the cost of tuition and a code of conduct proposed by the university administration that “will hurt students,” according to RSM chairperson Alex Lépine.

The RSM hopes to initiate a one-day strike in the near future “to build up the culture of militant action,” said Lépine.

“Students would not attend class to show solidarity. Students who chose to attend class would be considered as crossing the picket line”.” said Lépine. 

“We imagine it looking a lot like it works in Quebec,” said Lépine, “and it may be the case that only certain faculties go on strike.”

Student strikes have been called several times in Quebec since the Quiet Revolution in the late 1960s, with the most recent having taken place in 2012.

Dubbed the “Maple Spring,” the strike was called in protest of the provincial government’s proposed 82 per cent hike in tuition fees. The strike lasted from February to September 2012 and drew international attention.