Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Students are Revolting, part 13

I have lost track of the number of posts I have written about the Quebec students' boycott of classes.   it is quite clear the leaders of the groups have little interest in bargaining.  The CLASSE group even is explicit that their mandate is to demand, not bargain.  So, just a few bits and pieces on this:

  • Jacob Levy just tweeted that the groups are asking for a spending freeze by the Quebec universities.  What a great plan.  Sure, the universities can control their spending.  But what would that mean? Cutting students?  Freezing hiring? Cutting spending on maintenance?  I am pretty sure that spending is planned to rise as costs rise.  Of course, the concept of inflation seems foreign to these folks since the basic tuition increase is only designed to catch the Quebec schools up to .... 1968.
  • These students are losing the PR battle.  My post of last week is not the only one to note that more students are going to classes than are boycotting.  Indeed, the press seems more likely to use boycott now than strike since the students are not withholding their labor but their consumption of a service for which they have paid.  This represents a significant loss in the battle--the battle to frame the issues and set the agenda.
  • Polls have shown that Quebeckers are not huge fans of higher education but are even more opposed to increasing taxes.  Their view, by roughly 75%, is that taxes should not be raised to cover tuition but the other way around.
  • The folks who are demanding more democracy (which means they get what they want) are ignoring a key aspect--rule of law.  Students have gotten injunctions so that they can return to class, but these legal efforts have often met protestors who are unwilling to respect court decisions.  
One of the fun parts that remain: that if the boycott does end, it might bump into teacher unions that resist re-scheduling courses deep into the summer and/or on to Saturdays.

Oh, and this is affecting the larger Quebec game of when the next election will fall.  Speculation is rife (always wanted to say that) for sooner than later.  All I ask is that they wait until July.  I would like to get out of the province before the next election.  Please!

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