Student Protests

Student Protests

Depending on where you are, you may or may not have heard about the student protests here in Montreal. Basically the government is going to raise the cost of university tuition and the students are protesting against it. The protests have involved almost daily marches, the blockage of streets and bridges, the disruption of Metro commuter service, and clashes with police.

Since moving to Quebec, I’ve become more of a believer that government should play a large role in our society. As a society we seem to have lost a sense of community over the years and I think government needs to pick up the slack. It used to be that the community would provide for the needy and those in distress. It would also ensure that everyone is educated. I believe that education is fundamental toward us becoming better people and a better society. Access to education should be unhindered. I agree with those who say that today’s generation has big entitlement issues. And yes, making kids work for their education should be fundamental. I did it and felt it contributed to both my education and who I am today. But raising tuition is a slippery slope. Even though I worked through school, I finished with 30k in debt. That was a huge obstacle considering my first job paid only 22k per year. It was a huge burden and even after 20 years we are feeling the effects of that debt. Raising tuition should be incremental and relative to the increase in the cost of living.

So from the beginning, I have sided with the protesters. School should remain accessible while at the same time holding the students to high standards of performance. I’m not saying that everyone should go to university, but everyone should get an education relative to their abilities. I find it impressive that the students have mobilized to this extent and have kept up the pressure. They may feel entitled, but at least they have ideals that they are actively standing up for.

But I am a pacifist, so I found it disheartening both when the protests became violent and the student leaders did not immediately renounce the acts of violence. They should renounce the acts and state that anyone who commits such acts are not part of the cause. Damaging public and private property or actively engaging police will not win you points with anyone. Sustained protests and active negotiating would get farther toward ending the impasse and the public would remain on their side.

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~ by Frank on April 29, 2012.

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