The Revolutionary Student Movement (RSM) is excited to see that so many students across the country participated in November 2nd Day of Action, demanding an end to an education system which is unaffordable and inaccessible to most working class people and people from marginalized communities. Seeing this mobilization is truly inspiring, especially since most students who participated did not have an academic amnesty and many had to skip classes in order to demonstrate that they want these changes to be made now. Members of the RSM across the country have joined the actions in their cities with enthusiasm and have been involved in organizing in support of this initiative – we took part in marches and demonstrations, handed out leaflets outlining our position, promoted today’s events, and organized walk-outs.
However, despite today’s Day of Action being a success in mobilizing a large number of students across the country, we maintain our critiques of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). We maintain that it is an ossified, anti-democratic, bureaucratic, and reformist organization that serves as a barrier to the creation of a combative student movement in English Canada. The CFS did not call for a day of action out of a genuine desire to launch a truly mass-based anti-tuition campaign, nor out of a desire to increase the level of militancy in its current activities against the rising cost of tuition. Instead, it will again use the day of action as part of its lobbying efforts, as a means of cynically using the mobilization of students to provide weight to the annual meetings that CFS bureaucrats have with politicians.
The actions of CFS bureaucrats today proved our critique to be correct. At many rallies, organizers made the call to vote for politicians who would supposedly bring us free education, and to vote out the ones who do not support this demand. Organizers who sought to put forward the necessity of a strike were, in some places, barred from speaking. The CFS has used mobilizations like today as part of their lobbying efforts for more than a decade, and meanwhile tuition fees have steadily been on the rise across the country.
Furthermore, the demands of the CFS do not go far enough. The current campaign and day of action is directed only against tuition fee increases. The RSM stands for the complete abolition of tuition and ancillary fees, the cancellation of all student debt, and for complete open access to all post-secondary institutions in Canada. Only by eliminating fees and entrance requirements can education become truly accessible for the working class in Canada. The RSM stands for access to post-secondary education for all Indigenous people, and an anti-colonial aspect to all education programs. Not just the Indigenization of programs and institutions that aim to continue to dispossess Indigenous people from their land, but independence of all Indigenous departments and students from settler organizational models. The RSM stands for education to be put in the service of people and not profit; we argue that research should be for the benefit of all people and not the benefit of corporations, and that education should serve struggles for justice and liberation.
But now that the Day of Action is over, where do we go from here? The RSM proposes the following concrete steps as a program for building a fighting student movement across Canada:
- Students should fight for General Assemblies as the highest decision making bodies of their student unions. In turn, where General Assemblies already exist, students should fight for General Assemblies at both the campus and faculty level.
- Revolutionary students should campaign and promote the idea of a one-day strike against tuition.
- Votes for a one-day strike against tuition should be held in General Assemblies where they exist as a means of building a culture of striking.
- These sorts of activities should be continued and escalated, until it is possible to coordinate strikes between campuses.
- Strikes should serve as a way of forcing social crises where possible: we will force the state and ruling class to act, rather than simply beg them for table scraps.
The end of tuition, debt, the bourgeois education system, and capitalism are all possible. But in order to win, we need to be organized, and we need revolution.
In just over a week the RSM will be holding its Sixth Pan-Canadian Congress in Montreal. We invite all revolutionary youth and students, who agree with the political perspectives we uphold as well as the concrete steps we propose, to attend either as members of the RSM or observers.
For a truly democratic student movement in English Canada!
Towards a student strike for the elimination of tuition fees!