The Prince Arthur Herald

The role of student unions should be re-examined

Student unions are such a common part of our university careers that we tend to take them for granted. Student government often exists at all levels of the institution, ranging from the department, to the college or school, all the way to the collective student union. The student union levies fees on students and provides certain services in return. The representatives of the union are often directly elected by students (with usually abysmal voter turnout).

Unfortunately, student unions commonly engage in overtly political activity. Students should actively monitor their unions and speak out when they are engaging in questionable activity.  For example, Ontario’s radical student federation, the Canadian Federation of Students (Ontario) (CFS-O), was actively involved in planning the Quebec-Ontario Student Solidarity Tour. The phone number provided for the event linked directly to a CFS-O executive. The event was endorsed by a number of student unions, including those at Guelph, Queen’s, Windsor, and Ottawa. But it certainly was not by the people! At Guelph, students received no word of this decision until after the fact, and no attempt was made to consult the student body at large. The event involved student protest leaders with questionable politics. Guelph student union executives made a plea for students to join the strike movement, and even to donate money to student leaders fighting a legal challenge in Quebec.

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The Prince Arthur Herald

The CLASSE brings its radical agenda to Ontario

Samuel Mosonyi and Alex Vronces.

The CLASSE, Quebec’s most radical student federation, just finished a tour of Ontario, which started in Ottawa on July 12th and ended in Peterborough on July 20th. Sympathetic individuals from all walks of life crammed into lecture halls across Ontario to discuss tuition hikes and social movements, hoping to inspire a sense of solidarity with those who have mobilized in Quebec among the broader student population. 

The Prince Arthur Herald was fortunate enough to have attended the speaking events at Guelph and York.

Mobilization against private sector involvement in education

In both conferences, the speakers began by attempting to successfully pit private against public interests, portraying the former negatively and the latter positively.  Speaker Hugo Bonin, the CLASSE activist and political science student at the University of Quebec at Montreal, was mainly concerned that a private education system would reduce enrolment and distort the student-university relationship.

Under a private regime, with respect to the relational distortion, Bonin said  that certain fields—mainly the arts and humanities—would necessarily be underrepresented. Students in a totally privatized system, he said, would only opt for an education that promised a certain level of monetary success later in life. He argued that this pursuit of riches is somehow supposed to undermine society and to result in a net loss of some kind in terms of our well-being.

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