#redspring2015 Day of Action Statement

#redspring2015 Day of Action Statement

Mar 24 PP

The #redspring2015 Pan-Canadian day of action has finally arrived!

When the Revolutionary Student Movement first called for a March 2015 day of action, we had no idea how students across Canada would respond. We hoped of course that students would take up the demands we issued –for free, democratic, liberating, and anti-colonial education- and run with them. So far we have been completely blown away by the response; literally thousands of students from across Canada are mobilizing today. There are actions taking place in over a dozen locations across the entire country, from Halifax, to Montreal, to Toronto, to Saskatoon, to Kamloops. This is truly a pan-Canadian movement.

As you read this, the administration offices at uOttawa are being occupied. In Toronto, students are standing in solidarity with striking workers at York. In Sudbury, Oshawa, and Saskatoon walk-outs are occurring. Tonight, in Montreal and Quebec, there will be “Fucking Big Demonstrations” numbering in the thousands in support of the student strike in Quebec. And these are just a few of the examples of what’s going on across Canada today.

It would be clichéd to say “this is just the beginning”, but truthfully, it’s not even that. A strike of educational workers has effectively stopped ‘business-as-usual’ at York and the University of Toronto for the past month. Students in Quebec have been on strike for nearly a week now. This day of action, in addition to the events of the past month, are simply other steps in what will surely be a long struggle to achieve liberating education in Canada. But for the first time ever, in spite of conciliatory student associations in English Canada, in spite of the attacks by the state and university administrations, we are beginning to build a movement that will shake all of Canadian society to its foundations. It’s a good time to be a revolutionary student.

So what next? What direction should the momentum from the day of action take the student movement?

Three years after the biggest strike in Quebec’s history, we are conscious that the issues are complex and the student movement’s goals numerous. The immediate task is to support the student strikes, and try to spread them as widely as possible. We also encourage people to begin preparing for a possible strike in the Fall. The more militant and radical forces, including our Montreal and Quebec City chapters, are definitely leading this struggle. The FECQ and the FEUQ do not have influence within the student movement anymore, and they have only themselves to blame; their lobbysim, their bureaucratism, their numerous betrayals and their long-time relationship with the Parti Québécois are the causes of their failure.  We have great expectations for this struggle; it’s a good occasion to learn and to consolidate stronger mass movements.

In Toronto, all efforts should go towards a strike victory for CUPE locals 3902 and 3903 at UofT and York. In order for the strikes to be successful there will necessarily have to be a continuation of the escalation of tactics already taking place. Striking academic workers must also continue to build cross-local solidarity, so that the current movement cannot be split.

In the rest of Canada, now more than ever the weakness of the current federal student associations (the CFS and CASA) is apparent. In the wake of a strike in Quebec, a strike in Toronto, and a day of action across Canada, even the ostensibly more “action oriented” CFS has been unable to do anything other than try to dampen initiatives in some locations. Local student associations continually fail to educate and organize students to effectively oppose increasing tuition and the austerity agenda threatening education. Thus, to overcome this barrier, we must organize a democratization of the current student movement. In student unions where general assemblies don’t exist, they should be fought for. General assemblies should be extended down to the faculty and departmental level. In places where they do exist, general assemblies should be given real decision making power and held more frequently.  This will be a protracted process but it is an absolute necessity; as contradictions within high schools, colleges, and universities continue to sharpen, we will need democratic structures that will allow for future struggles. The time to start building them is now. Together we can change the face of the student movement in Canada.

Finally, we encourage students across Canada to involve themselves with the Revolutionary Student Movement. We are an anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-oppressive, and anti-colonial student movement. In places where RSM chapters do exist, we encourage new members to get involved. In places where RSM chapters don’t exist, we encourage activists to get in touch with us to start new ones. Now more than ever, as austerity shows us the ugly face of capitalism, as the attack on our already limited civil liberties increases, as Indigenous peoples continue to struggle against the oppression of colonialism, it is necessary for us to get organized and to fight back.

But what’s most important is that the momentum from today is not lost, and that we continue to build a militant student movement in the weeks, months, and years to come.

See you in the streets!

U-Pass referendum launches Nov.17-21 through ACSIS

U-Pass referendum launches Nov.17-21 through ACSIS

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By Nicholas Hodge

Almost four years after University of Ottawa and Carleton students were presented with the same choice; the Algonquin Students’ Association will hold a referendum on U-Pass implementation.

The vote will take place Nov. 17 through 21 and will be accessible through the Algonquin College Student Information System (ACSIS) online. The SA committed to a referendum earlier this semester but announced its date in an October meeting with student representatives.

The U-Pass is an OC Transpo pass that is paid for with an increase in tuition. Due to the increase in tuition that a U-Pass requires, the SA is obligated to hold a referendum on its implementation. Though it will save students who purchase bus passes money, critics point out that students who drive will have to pay for a service they will be less likely to use.

“I would say no, I wouldn’t want (a U-Pass),” said Steve Lairade a TV broadcasting student. “I have a car now and I drive to school. So, I don’t want my tuition to increase and I don’t want to pay for your bus passes.”

The Algonquin chapter of the Revolutionary Student Movement (RSM) kicked off their Yes for the U-Pass campaign on Nov. 4. They say that the U-Pass is essential because students need be able to get to their classes.

“OC Transpo can cost seven dollars per day,” said Regina-Maria Neppel, RSM chairperson. “More than half an hour of work for someone with a minimum wage job.”

The RSM is critical of the SA’s handling of the U-Pass issue, citing a lack of transparency, a failure to fully inform students about the U-Pass and the decision to make the referendum online among their concerns.

“We hope it succeeds but we have never heard of (a referendum) happening online,” said Dmitri Shklar, a member of the RSM.

The RSM plans to hold meetings and information sessions leading up to the referendum date.

“We invite every student that can attend to learn about the U-Pass and volunteer with us in the campaign,” said Shklar.

Former SA president Sherline Pieris had a tense relationship with the city on the U-Pass issue, once stating in an email to a city councillor that a dialogue on the U-Pass would happen at the college on the condition that the city reinstate a student pricing option on OC Transpo passes. She also wrote that if the referendum was to happen it would not take place until completion of the construction at Baseline Station in 2015.

Current SA president Christina Miller seems more open to the U-Pass, writing in a September letter to the student body that the SA was working hard to get it.

Originally published in the Algonquin Times on 05 Nov 2014

http://algonquintimes.com/news/u-pass-referendum-launches-nov-17-21-acsis/

Algonquin’s RSM Takes Back The Night

Algonquin’s RSM Takes Back The Night

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By Steph Hulse

Participation in a downtown “Take Back the Night” rally by five Algonquin students has spurred them to seek to begin a similar movement here.

The Algonquin College Chapter of the Revolutionary Student Movement attended the Take Back the Night Event on Oct. 8, and the rain, men and women of all ages gathered in Minto Park at 6:15 pm to rally and then march down Elgin Street. Once at city hall the group opened into an info centre, with different organizations and programs setting up tables.  Many organizations were represented including Oxfam, Hollaback!Ottawa, the Ottawa Coalition To End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW) and The Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC Ottawa), who ran the event.

“I was really happy with the event” said Regina Nebel, the chairperson for RSM:ACC.

The RSM:ACC not only strives to create a conversation about different gender oppressions but also works on ways in which to counter them.

“The point isn’t just to talk about history but to change it,” said Nebel.

Five RSM Algonquin members attended the event and joined in with the cheers and chants of around 150 other fellow activists.  The rally was comprised of a MC, musicians, and three guest speakers. During the rally organizers handed out cards with chants in both English and French while young volunteers handed out glow-sticks.  Signs were also available in case activists had come empty handed, and were made by CALACS Francophone d’Ottawa.

However, there was something missing from the event.

“It should never just end there, we need to be able to walk at night without fear but we should also be able to go to work without fear and walk to school without fear, and I think that discourse was lacking,” said Nebel.  “As much as Take Back the Night is essential, it’s important to take back all aspects of our day to day life.”

The RSM:ACC hope to hold a similar Take Back the Night event at Algonquin sometime this school year, and encourage students to join their open discussions held at 6 pm every Wednesday in the E building meeting rooms.

Originally published in the Algonquin Times on 22 Oct 2014

http://algonquintimes.com/socissues/9803/

Campus revolutionaries look to feed hungry students

Campus revolutionaries look to feed hungry students

By Lauren Khalil

Algonquin’s Revolutionary Student Movement (RSM) had to postpone the unveiling of its new People’s Stone Soup (PSS) initiative due to recent changes in policies regarding safe food handling.

The initiative was expected to be up and running for Sept. 17, but has been rescheduled to kick off Sept. 24.  The RSM is hoping to have the necessary safe food handling documents in time for the rescheduled date.

“We came to a bunch of new policies that had been adopted coincidentally as soon as PSS started to be a thing,” said Regina Nebel, acting chairperson for the RSM.

“It’s kind of like an official paper that is important to have because it’s important to regulate food but it’s a lot of time and a $50 course,” Nebel says.

According to Patrick Newell, clubs and community coordinator for the SA, the policy change was enforced this year as a liability issue to protect students from getting ill. He says students will be reimbursed for acquiring this certificate, which is necessary for serving hot food.

The goal of PSS is to provide lunch service to students in the form of a soup and sandwich combo.  While a weekly serving was the initial goal, lack of donation is making a biweekly serving look more plausible.

The RSM received about $600 from Ontario Public Interest Research Group for necessary equipment and has secured bread they would need from multiple sources.

The Algonquin PSS model is based on the success of People’s Republic of Delicious, an OPIRG initiative Nebel was involved in.

“We actually didn’t get as many donations as anticipated. I don’t know if that was because our PSS committee didn’t do as good of a job as they could have or if it’s just like there’s been a decrease in donations,” said Nebel.

So far donations have been done through person-to-person interaction and talking to businesses.

The RSM Algonquin chapter is in its first year as an OPIRG action group.

“Only groups whose activities fall within OPIRG’s are eligible to become OPIRG action groups,” said Maria Basualdo, OPIRG community research coordinator.

OPIRG action groups are made up of students and community volunteers working together toward social, environmental, or economic justice.

“It’s providing cheap food for students on campus,” said RSM member, Brendan Copegog White.  “It would be really nice to have actual affordable food to eat on campus because students don’t have a lot of money.”

The PSS will accompany a small charge or donations.

Originally published in the Algonquin Times on 25 Sep 2014

http://algonquintimes.com/news/campus-revolutionaries-look-feed-hungry-students/

RSM Takes Vandalism Blow

By Devin Orsini

A new Algonquin political club called the Revolutionary Student Movement, has had 41 posters torn down off of billboards across campus.

“It’s reprehensible; it should never happen. The nature of politics is oppositional, but something like this is not alright,” said Faris Lehn, clubs and communities co-ordinator.

“It’s very rude, they’re wasting our time and money. It’s just making more work for us,” said Regi Neppel, founder of the movement.

Since the posters were put up the group has seen an uproar from different people, which is not a surprise since the movement is the first political club the college has seen.

“We’re an explicitly anti-capitalist group,” said Neppel.

Algonquin security have been notified and shown where the posters have been torn down. Security is currently looking into it, and is taking the matter very seriously. So far there haven’t been any leads, but the investigation continues.

“It just feels like certain people are deciding what should and should not be shown, which is not right,” said Brendan White, co-founder of the movement.

The movement has been around since November 2013 but only became an official club this past January.

According to its Algonquin Facebook page.

“The movement’s goal is to create a Canada-wide combative and militant student movement to educate students towards the interests and service of the working class. They are an anti-reformist group and push for an education system that is scientific in nature and focused around the interests of the working class.”

Neppel was involved with student initiatives prior to coming to Algonquin. When she finally came to the college, she was determined to create a group here, which eventually materialized into the movement. Co-founder, Brendan White, came to Ottawa and eventually Algonquin with similar objectives and teamed up with Neppel to create what is now the Revolutionary Student Movement.

“What we’re hoping to do is to create a student movement that isn’t going to end when people graduate,” said Neppel.

The movement consists of 20 people and growing. They meet every week on Wednesday to develop political education for anyone that’s willing to listen. They wish to help fellow students as best they can.

“We want to be part of the change that folks want to see happen,” said Neppel. “There’s always room for improvement.”

The movement hopes to continue with their campaigning, movie nights and to work with other clubs.

 

Originally published in the Algonquin Times on 09 Mar 2014

http://algonquintimes.com/news/rsm-takes-vandalism-blow/

Algonquin’s revolution

By Aidan Cullis

 

The college could see a new voice given to the student body in the form of the creation of an Algonquin chapter of the Revolutionary Student Movement.
Regi Neppel, a 20-year-old horticulture student, became one of the lead organizers of the Algonquin chapter in early November. Neppel and fellow RSM organizer Brendan White, an 18-year-old marketing student, have been papering the school in bright red posters to attract attention to their weekly meetings.
“The RSM isn’t explicitly a communist group, it’s really more anti-capitalist and about building a student movement that is in line with the broader working-class, and not just something that ends at making tuitions more affordable,” said Neppel.
Part of communist student activities at an early age, Neppel saw the college as the perfect environment for the development of a Revolutionary Student Movement, and is optimistic about its future.
“Algonquin is one of the first college campuses to have an RSM group, and the class background is a lot more promising because it’s people who come from more of a blue-collar or working-class background,” said Neppel.
The group’s third meeting of the month on Jan. 22 saw the finalization of their constitution and a step towards a revolutionary course of action. The first step is organizing, educating, and forming a dialectic through which various anti-capitalist ideologies can come together.
Faris Lehn, Algonquin’s clubs and communities coordinator, welcomes the new revolutionary presence on campus.
“The RSM is not a club, but I have been meaning to establish contact with them to see if they want to become more formal,” said Lehn.
For many years, the college would not allow political clubs on campus. However, after learning of Lehn’s proposal and discovering the recent change in rules, the members of the Revolutionary Student Movement welcome the possibility of becoming a legitimate organization in the coming months.

 

Originally published in the Algonquin Times on 06 Feb 2014

http://algonquintimes.com/news/algonquins-revolution/