Class location changed back to Arts lounge

March 9, 2009

Hey everyone,
Indyclass still meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:30, but in the Arts Lounge as of March 10th.

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New reading posted for March 10th class

March 8, 2009

Reading on RA and TA unions in French. See “Week 8” under the readings tab.

Feb. 10th minutes

February 11, 2009

ASSE Discussion

ASSE currently in decline stage?
– consolidating membership, increasing corporatism evident in the 2007 strike, increasing ideological factionalism (NEFAC and maoists)

ASSE strategy for free education?
– a general student strike demanding it…but they usually end up being defensive

Economic disruption?
– Casino, port, SAQ depot (in Montreal) – pissing off workers?
– Also ideological: attempted occupations of the Montreal economic institute and the McGill admin office

Why strike?
– It has a symbolic connection to the strike in the labour tradition (student syndicalism)
– It has to be everyone now showing up in order for it to mean anything
– Could it be combined with tuition boycott?
– Negotiation? Rapport de force.

How do increases in tuition affect accessibility?
– a numbers game…
– HMB quotes the Montreal Economic Institute saying it won’t have an affect, omitting the part that says that it will affect the most economically marginalized

Race in the ASSE analysis?
– They talk class and gender
– Race is a big question mark, not addressed at all in terms of accessibility
– That’s the situation generally with the white francophone leftism in Quebec, and in white+settler societies generally
– And also, the gender analysis of the ASSE is very second wave
– Queer analysis completely absent

– SNCC: In order for the movement to grow, new members should have positions of leadership within the movement
– QS: within Quebec Solidaire they stress the importance of the participation of women, which can be criticized from a third wave perspective (they assume its clear who is a “man” and a “woman”) but is still good…
– In SSMU, limited knowledge of Roberts Rules could be seen as a barrier to participation in GAs
– Knowledge of how to get involved isn’t loud, people don’t know about it. But also, there is high turnover and people have other commitments (a problem with everyone – esp. with neoliberalism, people who could gain the most from movements don’t have the time or capacity to participate (race, class)

ASSE campaign against the privatization of social services and education
– A demo coming up in march
– Last year they had a problem with what had happened, and needed something new to work on…
– 3 proposals: against global imperialism, an environmental campaign, and against privatization of social services
– They chose the third option, it relates most closely to their previous campaigns, and it allows them to ally with unions opposing privatization of health and education
But Max doesn’t think they’ve been effective in connecting this to the daily experiences of students, why is public education better for students? How will privatization be detrimental to them?

Reactionary Profs
– The minister who brought forward the bill to allow more privatization of healthcare in Quebec will be teaching at McGill, there could be an action…
– Conservative party people and intellectuals teaching poli sci, and the dean of poli sci advised the reform party…

David Harvey thesis of keynsianism not being possible in the US…
It’s good that the ASSE is directly critiquing neoliberalism, but relating it to students is lacking
Imagining what could happen with an organization beyond the ASSE?
Imagining how a radical outflanking of the CFS could be informed by radical student syndicalism
The people running the show at the ASSE are the people who were behind the scenes unsuccessfully trying to run the show 4 years ago. Activists have moved on…s

Feb. 3rd minutes

February 6, 2009

CFS article by Caelie Frampton
involved in radical student organizing in the mid-1990s
Crtique of the CFS and how bureaucratic it is, how it intervenes with the locla level and serves its own interests.
Works vs. radical student organizing as it has in the past.
She talks about what has happened in the past in terms of challenging CFS
and what can be done in the future. (ie 2005 Quebec Student Strike)
What was the CFS day of action in the 1990s about?

Was vs. the Axworthy reforms that would see social spending cut.
Pan-Canadian day of action. About 100 000 students striked
And then a year after that people who’d organized the strike went on to form the radical wing of the CFS to try and push it to the left until they dissolved in 1999.
The right wing left in the early 1990s re the gulf war (CFS took position vs.). Western, Dalhousie, etc.
The article was from a far-left position. Very anti-organization.
First coherent critique of what’s wrong with the CFS.
Insidious part of CFS = campus activism tends to be people’s first exposure to activism. Education is a right, Solidarity etc. can radicalize people. But then they have to channel that via CFS: this kills activism.
CFS has an annual budget of 14 million$: goes to salaries and membership drives.
CFS still gets support from left because of smth similar to Lenin’s ideas about building the party before engaging in revolutionary action…
CFS wants to consolidate all students in Canada.
CFS gets into arguments about wroking with FEUQ, who are for tuition increases.
Plan to usurp FEUQ.

Smn asks about ideology within CFS: what’s the logic behind the movment? Lobbying? NDP connections? They think their approach within institutional leftism doesn’t work because they’re not big enough, not becuase their approach is faulty.

CFS claims to be only ones who are the incarnation of the student movement. FEUQ isn’t even claiming this for Quebec: they recognize that there’s a movement to be built.
Which one of CFS and CASA has the most momentum?

Casa isn’t even pretending to be a movement. Minimal membership fees, lobbying, that’s it.
UBC and Dalhousie are Casa.

Frampton makes a good point: mobilization based locally; CFS doesn’t support local initiatives. Ritualized days of action. CFS has been more mobilized when there were local action committees.

CFS and youth wing of nDP are close. Layton arguably won leader of NDP via CFS support.
Federal NDP is starting to get the wind that the CFS is sketchy.
BC NDP was on the cusp of general strike: Simon Fraser…
BC NDP opposed this for electoral reasons. This quashed initiatives that the unions and students had.
Origins of CASA are Axworthy reforms: Casa supported them.
CASA’s first campaign in 1995 was titled “Education builds a nation”
Tagged themselves as the first lobby to meet with new conservative gvt though…

SDS still had
Smn says: Philip Link and Lucy Watson are calling the shots at CFS-Services. Lucy Watson is there since 1982: national organizer.
The main staff position at CFS is “organizer” at provincial level. From a union POV, organizers work sketchily behind the scenes to get new members. CFS’ only position is one that is interested in membership…
CFS’ bylaws are a huge legal trap: they give precendence to CFS bylaws.
Philip Link is a sketchbag.
He runs the show, keeps a tight rein over his staff from what Max says.
He somehow assaulted an aboriginal woman… So they moved from the BC office to National.

When Frampton identified barriers to reform CFS or to create alternatives, there were good things:
– CFS has a bureaucracy of people who have been there for decades on salaary. Whereas students have a very high turnover rate. She says CFS should itself support a radical student network but would never do this because would undermine them.
– Says we need to develop historical and institutional memory and a critique of the CFS. [Solution = Indyclass!]

Lots of surreal moments in CFS meetings:
After SSMU introduced motions at CFS to make CFS more transparent, they didn’t get a single vote in favour of motions to put bylaws online etc.
SFU people left CFS too; in 2005 a corrupt exec got kicked out of the office. SFU people talked to SSMU people and realized that they were both left-wing dissidents. CFS had been disguising the fact that opposition was not just from the right.
Phil Link was one of the first delegated to the first CFS meetings. Anytime there was a progressive consensus he’d raise a shitstorm. Had a hand in the structure at present.
If progressive people got onto CFS they could get past the bureaucracy but it’s not happening.
CFS hires really apolitical people.

Bureaucracies have an internal inertia. It would take action against it to make CFS less bureaucratic.
Key difference between FEUQ and CFS is permanent staff: FEUQ has none.
There is factionalism between associations in FEUQ. CFS is just one mass.
When SSMU got kicked out of CFS, it was really Orwellian.
SFU had a motion to be ‘let out’ of CFS… but the CFS chair ruled that there is nothing in the constitution that says that associations can’t leave without a referendum.
SSMU kicked out of CFS right afterwards with no talk of referenda.

FEUQ has staff but it’s verymuch subservient to the exec.

There’s more of a culture of student movments in Quebec. Not so in English Canada.

Smn thinks it’s CFS’s being on the defensive all the time. The right is in it to dissolve student movements in English Canada; in Quebec it’s to take it over. The CFS gets tolerated by the leftists who get involved because the right is out to get the movement…
If CFS were to die tomorrow, and if people tried to build a democratic student organization, it could be possible. It’s not just cultural.

People who do get more active and more aware don’t get active in CFS because they see through it. At McGill, there’s the prospect of getting involved in the Quebec student movement.
GAs are an institutional way of democratizing the student movement. GAs are a catch-22 (ie look at SSMU) because bureaucratic student unions are less likely to be able to do GAs because things don’t match up.

Meeting location moved

January 22, 2009

Indyclass will now take place at 3619 rue University, appt. #1. It’s the door under the stairs leading up to the other apartments at the same number. This apartment is a friends’ house. Email indyclass@gmail.com if you have questions!

January 22nd minutes

January 22, 2009

Fred talks about impetus for his paper…
Came from his onvolvement in the student movement: the failure of the 2007 student strike. Lots of police brutality. Infigthing within the movement. Sabotage of GAs by the PQ. Think through the issues a little.
PQ: sabotaged GAs. Would be to their electoral advantage is strike happened in winter vs. fall. Mobilized péquiste students to come vote.
Own experience of trying to get a day of solidarity strike in the fall. Failed since didn’t reach quorum.
Stemmed from the new right-wing regulations regarding qualified quorum in SSMU. That was a result of opposition to the 2005 strike.
People in McGill got involved in the mobilizations at the CEGEP du Vieux-Montreal: the bed-in. Law regarding public sector strikes applied to students by Charest gvt: so students turned bed-in into occupation. Entrances were barricaded. People were tazered. Mass arrests.
Winter = renewed push to have a general strike. Strong at UQAM b/c of ASSÉ. Didn’t work: too ideological?
What 2007-8 showed is that the 2005 wave is over. Severe mismanagement of UQAM funds dealt with by firing staff, courses. UQAM Striked b/c of this reason. Mvt crushed b/c of police repression. University injunction regarding no pickets.

Max: last year failed not b/c of ideological fight for no tuition but b/c of ideological push for a strike. No base for mobilizations but key people were involved.

Fred: FECQ + FEUQ schools went on strike. ASSÉ exec worked asses off to get general strike across the province. 2005 ended and they started planning for the next general strike.
Radical student associations have a shelf life.
UGEQ = 1964-1969
ANEEQ = 1975-late 1980s
then MDE (Mouv. Droits à l’éducation) right before the ASSÉ: syndicalist strand in the student movement.
Material experience wears out: ASSÉ is now consolidating their membership. GRASPé: tied to the support of the ASSÉ. But tense relations with anglophone students… Controversy over translating the website.

Student movement only a solid force for the quebec left only when it has consensus over syndicalist tactics. Only when consensus exists can it make broader links to movements in Québec.
FEUQ/FECQ/CFS are the respectable students. ASSÉ are more radical.
Unfortunate aspect of lobbysit organizations… Students-as-workers approach only works when people are united by a common issue.
One day strike in late 50s across the board. Duplessis era.
Lots of anglophone students in days of old left involved in CCF, communist organizations (w/ impetus from profs)
1960s = first adoption of tactic of strikes.
Original 1968 strike in CEGEPs = not a strike? The idea matured. Really started talking of strikes. Influenced by May 68 student strikes. Only place in North America where gvt has idea that can’t fuck students over à la Mike Harris.
Strike: not just uni shut down, but also throwing a spoke in the economic workings of the province: block bridges, picket the stock exchange.
Consenus in Quebec that it’s ok to take action around issues. Media doesn’t by default portray mobilized students as a bunch of terrorists.
J-M piotte says: UQAM more militant because less professional schools. This is a big divide within CEGEPs: uni-track vs. professional track exploited by administrations.
When things are at their strongest as in 2005, things cross faculty lines. Huge changes that affect anyone.

Out-of-province students… After 1996 strike, federations negotiate legitimately with gvt.
Tuition – illegally high? McGill charges 200$ more than it can according to a gvt proclamation.

Dynamic in Quebec: as ideology related to their economic conditions.
Since quebec tuition is so cheap, people take longer to do their degrees. People are in and ou tof other movments. People develop their political sensibilites.
Brianna: Easier to point out grievances than to convince people of ideologies.
Max: ASSÉ talked about the defreeze of tuition fees and this was shut down by really ideological people. It’s ok to mobilize people around ideology as it relates to real issues.
Fred: Political climate of student movement meetings. ASSÉ has a congress: supreme decision-making bodies.
Super macho dynamic. Gender dynamics feel like the 1970s. People try and compete over whose retoric is more militant.
ASSÉ has a super good feminist analysis. Kind of second wave. Divide between Anglo and Franco feminist organizing.
Max: Identity politics is wrapped up in the national question in Quebec and in colonized countries. See palestinian student movement as it relates to nation.
Fred: As mvt become more navel-gazing it becomes more macho. CRAM = ASSE in montreal. Idea that regions are autonomous… In every meeting of CRAM there is a point-femme to talk about women’s issues. Only people who have smth to say are the people on the Comité de Femmes and even less so now. Activists get involved in ASSÉ via comittees, but as organization disingegrated the exec impinges mmore and more on the autonomous committee
Ideological wars in ASSÉ: NEFAC vs. Maoists. NEFAC organizes through ASSÉ.
NEFAC are a particular form of anarchists… How does it fit into Quebec sovereignty mvt?
Quebec wing has now separated from NEFAC. See Délit feature on anarchism.

Minutes, January 20th

January 21, 2009

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Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

We discussed readings we’ll do on future days.

Joel talked about “Une Douce Anarchie” by Jean-Philppe Warren and we discussed some Quebec history

Brianna gave a summary of the “children of privilege” reading and we discussed it some.

We talked about our meeting on Thursday. Cleve is going to get Fred to come and maybe facilitate.

(hopefully the minutes will be more substantial in the future, but the conversation was jumping around too much for the minute-taker to follow this day!)

First reading posted!

January 18, 2009

Check out the readings section for the first reading. It’s a broad overview of student movements in the sixties in Canada, the US and West Germany. Hopefully it’ll spark some debate!
I’ll keep looking for an English-language history of the Quebec student movement. Hopefully it can be online in time for Thursday’s class.

Really cool books

January 18, 2009

I found some really cool books at the library pertaining to our topic:

– a book called The Organizer’s Manual, which gives helpful tips about political self-education and has info about student strkes and organizing in universities. I took it out from MacLennan and will be posting scans.
– a book called “Taking Back the Academy: History of Activism, History as Activism”. The link is below:
http://www.myilibrary.com/browse/open.asp?ID=9883

didn't attach last time…but here it is.

January 16, 2009

indyclass-so-called-syllabus1