In 2012, Quebec student unions led by ASSÉ launched a strike that involved over 300,000 students, shutting down the provincial university system for seven months to block a proposed 75% tuition increase. They won. They won not by lobbying politicians to come to their rescue, and not by made-for-TV actions by small numbers of activists, but through escalating direct action based on expansive solidarity across the working class. Organizing spread from campus into the community and workplace with neighborhood assemblies and flickers of a general strike. At its peak, the movement involved over 400,000 people, 5% of Quebec’s population, taking part in illegal demonstrations against the government.

The success of the Quebec student movement stands in stark contrast to the fate of students in the United States, who have seen tuition increase by more than 1120% in the past 30 years. [1]  With one year at a public university now costing an average of over $15,000, higher education has slipped out of reach for millions of working families.[2] As US activists seek to build a mass movement for accessibility to education, and as corporate influence on politics and the erosion of the juridical framework for student associations lock students’ voices out of the halls of power, the Quebec student unions offer a model worth emulating.

Inspired by the Quebec student movement, we are a new network of student and labor activists devoted to building student unions based on direct democracy and direct action in the US and Canada. Join us!


[1] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-15/cost-of-college-degree-in-u-s-soars-12-fold-chart-of-the-day.html

[2] http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=76

Comment ( 1 )

  1. Madavascus

    Dear Student Union Sisters and Brothers, The Red T Movement at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick stands with the ASSÉ, and all student unionists and labor activists representing their various groups and collectives in their respective universities and colleges at the National Student Power Convergence. We welcome this rapprochement made between Québécois and American students, and look forwards to a time where the international student movement can coordinate a massive direct action campaign together on the continental and global scale. We join you in this struggle in perfect and unequivocal solidarity. Solidairement, Madavascus Red T Movement Fredericton, NB (Canada)

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