Quebec students denounce education minister's "directive" to continue classes during boycott

March 1, 2012

Students are accusing Quebec Education Minister Line Beauchamp of giving a "directive" for classes to continue even when a large majority of students have voted to boycott classes in protest of planned tuition fee increases. An aide to the minister confirms a letter went out but says it was not intended as a directive. "It's up to each institution to judge how to handle it," she says. The letter, from the assistant deputy minister, says that unlike an employee strike, the student strike is more about freedom of speech and pressure tactics, and each student is free to attend classes if they are being offered. Still, the letter was like "putting oil on the fire," says the president of the Fédération nationale des enseignantes and des enseignants du Québec, adding that "it may not have been a directive but it was a political gesture." The president of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec says the letter is causing many campus administrations to "become more aggressive" by not recognizing strike votes, noting that it doesn't help that the Université de Montréal -- Quebec's biggest university -- "has said the strike is not being recognized." uMontréal has sent a notice to students stating that all courses and evaluations will continue as usual and instructors have been asked to be in class. A uMontréal official says students who boycott classes can express their views, but "those who wish to pursue their studies also have a right to do so." Dawson College's student union argues that administration attempted to influence the outcome of yesterday's student strike vote, citing e-mails forwarded to the student union's attention showing the administration offering advice and council to representatives from the committee opposing the strike. Montreal Gazette | Dawson Student Union News Release