[sixties-l] Buzz on campus

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Sat Apr 07 2001 - 14:26:17 EDT

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    Thursday 29 March 2001

    Buzz on campus

    In the city's colleges and universities, summit's like rallying points of
    the '60s

    The Montreal Gazette

    Montreal's college and university campuses are abuzz with
    talk reminiscent of the protest movements of the 1960s.

    Students are even invoking some of the landmark events of
    those restless times - the Vietnam War and the Kent State
    shootings - as they call for class boycotts and picket lines
    to protest against the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City
    next month.

    "Everybody is talking about it," said Heloise
    Moysan-Laplante of College de Maisonneuve.

    It's hard to miss kiosks set up in high-traffic locations
    near the entrances to college and university buildings,
    decorated with colourful banners and containing information
    about Internet sites, meetings and training camps devoted to
    protesting against the summit.

    At the downtown campus of the Universite du Quebec a
    Montreal, lunch hour is a particularly busy period, with
    debates, documentary films and the distribution of pamphlets
    filled with warnings about the impact of globalization.

    Students say they worry that the Free Trade Area of the
    Americas - the agreement that the leaders of 34 countries
    from North, Central and South America will be working toward
    April 20-22 - will erode human rights, the environment,
    health care, working conditions and education. The slogan on
    posters and pamphlets on every campus in French, English and
    Spanish is: "No Way FTAA."

    "It's going to affect society as a whole, but particularly
    students, and we have to act," said Moysan-Laplante,
    secretary of the students' association at Maisonneuve.

    "We're searching for concrete methods to oppose what's
    happening," said Moysan-Laplante, co-ordinator of a movement
    set up to press for a widespread student strike. "One of the
    ways that's most visible and most powerful is a strike."

    If that happened, students would boycott classes and exams
    in the week leading up to the weekend summit.

    Phil Ilijevski, of the Quebec branch of the Canadian
    Federation of Students, called strike action by students,
    especially at colleges, "very likely."

    "Many are calling for a general strike during the summit.
    Things are really heating up," Ilijevski said.

    Moysan-Laplante said that if college and university
    authorities refuse to recognize the protest action by
    canceling classes and exams, the students will try to cause
    enough disruption that things will shut down anyway.

    Students in some faculties at the Universite du Montreal and
    UQAM are also expected to participate in some form of
    protest during summit week.

    Concordia University agreed to defer exam dates for students
    who chose to protest in Quebec City at exam time.

    McGill University refused to follow suit, prompting some
    students to say they will boycott their exams if they fall
    during the week of the summit.

    "People are bringing up references to Vietnam and the Kent
    State shooting," said Wojtek Baraniak, president of the
    student society at McGill. "They're willing to make that
    sacrifice, and I applaud them. I found it ironic that the
    university wasn't according deferral for students who wanted
    to voice their dissent."

    Rosalie Jukier, McGill's dean of students, warned that
    skipping exams will result in "academic consequences."

    "The university was worried about creating a precedent,"
    Jukier explained after the senate voted 32-31 against
    deferring exams. "A protest is not a legitimate reason for
    not (taking) exams."

    About 5,000 Montreal-area students are expected to join
    thousands of anti-globalization activists in Quebec City.

    The Canadian Federation of Students is part of Common
    Frontiers, one of the two coalitions behind the Peoples'
    Summit of the Americas, a parallel event to the official
    summit that is to be held April 17-21.

    Francophone and anglophone student groups are working to
    together to organize bus transportation to Quebec City for
    the protests.

    Booths set up at Concordia, McGill and UQAM are taking
    reservations for seats. A total of 104 yellow school buses,
    seating 48 each, will be leaving for Quebec between April 19
    and 21.

    Bus companies initially demanded a surcharge above the
    regular rental fee of $300 per bus, Ilijevski said, "but
    they backed down."

    With hotels in Quebec City fully booked, Universite Laval
    last week announced that it will open its facilities to
    accommodate 3,000 out-of-town students during the summit.

    Protest activities planned for Quebec City include street
    blockages on April 20 and a massive march and demonstration
    the following day.

    The student movement is crucial, said Alvaro Vargas of the
    Groupe Oppose a la Mondialisation des Marches, a Montreal
    student coalition.

    "They have a capacity for mobilization that's outstanding.
    These are the people who are most critical of
    globalization," Vargas said, although he noted that not all
    of those critics are completely against a free-trade

    "Some of us want to negotiate and modify it a bit."

    To prepare for and counter the planned efforts by an
    estimated 6,000 police officers to keep the protesters away
    from the summit, student groups have organized campus
    training sessions on civil disobedience and have brought in
    speakers on safety issues.

    The police will be armed with stun guns, plastic bullets,
    billy clubs, pepper pray and tear gas, members of Vargas's
    group told students yesterday at a meeting at UQAM.

    "For us, occupying a public street means taking part in a
    peaceful, democratic process," Vargas said of non-violent
    protests. "There are other groups that are more radical and
    we respect their strategy, but we have made our decision."

    - Reservations for seats on the student buses going to
    Quebec City can be made by calling (514) 931-2377. More
    information on student anti-summit activities is available
    at http://www.education-action.net and at

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