Thursday, January 14, 2010

Education is a right! Take the fight to the street!

As the danger of privatization and cost continue to threaten public post-secondary education there are new threats from both within and without of the student movement.

Right wing Conservative and Liberal governments continue to increase tuition and ancillary fees. The majority of post-secondary students come from working class families and refusing even a moderate increases in minimum wage or any other relief has pushed student debt well above 13 billion dollars.

Students must stand up against these attacks and fight for a better education system, including:

- The reduction and elimination of tuition fees.
- Accessible post-secondary education funded by a progressive tax system.
- The opening of public apprenticeship programs with a guarantee of work.
- Increasing the minimum wage.
- A living stipend for students.
- The cancellation of student debt.
- Research directed by the people, not by corporate investment interests.

These and other progressive demands can only be won through mass, united mobilization and fight back. Victory is in the streets!

But the right also has more devious and destructive tactics on campus. Progressive student organizations are harassed constantly by Conservative Party activists intent on disrupting and destroying the student movement. Some even pose as progressives to confuse and destroy the unity of youth and students.

Students can’t wait for the next election. Immediate change is needed to relieve the massive costs and escalation of debt. Real, lasting political results must come from the democratic expression of protest in the street. Lobbying is not enough, and concessions cannot continue. Students have nothing more to give but to further go in debt!

Unwillingness to take action can only hinder the fight of students. Young progressives must take it upon themselves to bring fellow students together against regressive government policies and cuts. Inaction only aids these government as well as the dangerous anti-CFS campaigns which have reared their the past few years and especially in recent months.

Recently, a group called Progressive Students 4 CFS has publicized a letter calling for a more active student movement. The letter, which was signed by over 60 progressive students from across the country, also describes some of the issues facing students in Canada and the actions of the right on campus. Other active online student progressives can be found at or

Soon the massive, nationwide campaign to defederate schools from the Canadian Federation of Students will come to a head. If these destructive campaigns are successful the students of Canada will be left with no united representation, and will be vulnerable to attacks from the far right. The fight for free, universal, accessible post-secondary education cannot be won without the voice and movement of students. The YCL-BC opposes the defederation campaigns and the attacks from the Conservative Party on campus.

Another tactic of the upper class in disrupting the student movement is enforced inactivity. Schools like Kwantlen Polytechnic, where defederation campaigners hold seats or maintain control of the students union, have seen a marked decrease in political activism. At Kwantlen, student elections have dramatically lower turnout then schools with active, progressive student leaders.

Strangely, the activity of campus conservatives is in some places defended by confused left wing students. Whether the case is that these students reject the CFS because it is not a revolutionary organization, or feel that some of the services or campaigns go beyond the mandate of student representatives, they fail to understand the issue at hand. There is a real threat to post-secondary education in Canada, and now is not the time to tear down all that students have worked for.

The questions of direction and unity in the student movement are serious ones. The CFS is not only a unified voice for post-secondary students, but is often quick to support international struggles including the fight of the Palestinian people. The YCL-BC calls on students to support the CFS against these defederation campaigns. Progressive students must be active in this struggle. Nothing is perfect, but we must work to build and strengthen a united student movement, not to destroy it.

It is important that post-secondary students question their elected leaders on this issue. A united student movement is the only thing preventing the complete deregulation or privatization of schools. As the fight goes on these right wing forces will further attempt to disrupt and corrupt student politics. The only way to reverse these attacks is to stand united against the defederation campaigns, cuts, and tuition increases.

- YCL BC Committee, January 2010

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