DIRECT DEMOCRACY NOW! WHAT WE CAN DO TO BRING OUR STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION UNDER STUDENT CONTROL

DIRECT DEMOCRACY NOW! WHAT WE CAN DO TO BRING OUR STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION UNDER STUDENT CONTROL

 

The democratic pathways that students have open to them at the college are very narrow, in no way do students have a way for our voices to be heard, in no way can we make the Students’ Association (SA) reflect our interests as working class students. The representative system that we have now is anti-democratic and only serves the interests of the Algonquin College administration. We have to organize to create peoples power on our campus by waging a democratic struggle.

Students already understand just how limited the current representative system is and how the SA does not reflect working-class student interests. We can look at the student participation in the SA elections that took place to show how this true. In the last SA elections (close to the end of the winter semester 2015) less than 10% of the student population voted, about 1,495 students voted for the SA president. In contrast to this, during the U-Pass referendum that took place in November 2014, a time when students could participate in campus politics and could create campaigns, 40% of the students voted, about 6,177 ballots were cast. This shows that it is not that students don’t care or that they are apathetic, it shows the opposite – students want to and are eager to engage with politics.

It is in the interest of every working class student to join the fight for a democratic campus, the abolition of tuition fees, the abolition of all student debt, and free and open access to post-secondary education. The SA is not currently a body capable of enacting these changes and does not share these interests. When the college administration imposed a 500 dollar non-refundable deposit for tuition fees in the spring of 2015 the SA didn’t ask what students thought about it, nor did they take a stance against this unfair measure.

Students have little independence when we try to push for change on campus, and the SA places many bureaucratic constraints on student organizing. Nowhere in the SA bylaws does it say that student’s voices and interests must be considered by the SA; in essence they are not accountable to the very people they claim to represent. There is currently no way for students to directly influence the workings of the SA, since campaigns and petitions have no binding power.

All Power to the People! The Revolutionary Student Movement’s Solution

Our solution is to campaign on campus for the ability of students to call for referendums to take places, right now the SA is the only one with the power to do so. Our idea is that if students have an issue that they want to vote on then campaigns can be made and petitions can go out. There will be a minimum number of signatures that need to be collected to run a referendum, but once this is submitted to the SA they will have a constitutional responsibility to allow the referendum to go forward and be mandated to carry out the resulting tasks. This will create greater student democracy on campus and open up roads we can take to fight tuition, gain access to better services and even create direct democracy on campus making the students become the highest decision making body on our campus.

Successful struggles for democratization of campuses have already taken place at other schools in Ontario. At the University of Ottawa the Revolutionary Student Movement was able to win a democratic campaign on their campus. They successfully campaigned to establish general assemblies at the university, making the students the highest decision making body of their student union.

If we want our voices to matter, we must organize to promote the change we want to see. We must mobilize on our campus for the ability to call for referendums, to host political campaigns and to make this legally binding to the SA. To abolish tuition and student debt we have to be the ones organizing for it, we have to be the ones struggling for direct democracy, who else will have our interests as working class students but us? We have a world to win!

 

 

Find us on Facebook:                           Revolutionary Student Movement – Algonquin

Send us an email:                                                                              algonquin@mer-rsm.ca

Visit our website:                                                                                                      mer-rsm.ca

Fascists Attack the RSM, Fail Miserably

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A meeting of the Revolutionary Student Movement – Algonquin College was attacked by fascists. A group of neo-Nazis attempted to prevent the RSM’s first meeting of the 2015-2016 school year. Like cowards, they tore down a number of posters put up by the RSM before disrupting the meeting itself. The fascists then tried to enter the room where the meeting was happening. They were confronted by RSM organizers and were prevented from doing so. Shortly after, the fascists left and the RSM meeting continued.

It is now clear that there are fascists organizing on our campus. Their attempt to shut-down the RSM takes place in the context of an attack on the Queer Student Alliance’s office in 2014. This escalation, deliberately attempting to shut down a meeting, is alarming; while they were unsuccessful this time, fascists will not stop until they are stopped. This is a threat to all marginalized communities, and progressive, democratic, and revolutionary-minded people at Algonquin College.

We take the threat of fascism seriously. Fascism –be it in the guise of explicit neo-Nazis, racist skin-heads, the KKK, anti-immigrant groups like PEGIDA, or the so-called “Men’s Rights” movement – must be stomped out before it is allowed to take root and fester.

As the RSM, we commit ourselves to meeting this threat head-on, and preventing the Nazis from organizing on campus. The only way to stop fascism is through solidarity. Together, we are stronger than the fascists could ever dream of being. In the coming days, RSM Algonquin College will reach out to all progressive students and organizations to come together and collectively stop this threat. We all deserve to feel safe on our campus.

Let’s take Algonquin College back!

Nazis off our campus!

 

For more information check us out on Facebook: Revolutionary Student Movement – Algonquin

or email:  algonquin@mer-rsm.ca

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

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

IMG_2986

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

DSC_0666

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/

RSM Algonquin Statement on 2014 Trans Day of Remembrance

According to a prominent GLB organization, Pride Toronto, Trans Day of Remembrance ‘serves several purposes’ from ‘raising public awareness of hate-crimes against trans people’ to mourning and honoring ‘the lives of our “brothers and sisters” who might otherwise be forgotten.’

We, the Revolutionary Student Movement: Algonquin College Chapter, understand Trans Day of Remembrance to be a day to mourn victims of misogyny and trans misogyny who face a spectrum of violent attacks daily, and a time to memorialize the courageous resistance that trans communities have been showing through struggle since the inception of brutal patriarchal class economic relations. We also believe it is a time to reflect on our structural and personal anti-trans tendencies and actions in order to dismantle our internalized misogyny and trans misogyny.

On this day, we remember the words of the Radical Caucus of the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations spoken in August of 1970, “ We see the persecution of homosexuality [and we understand this to extend to all queer and trans people] as a part of a general attempt to oppress all minorities and make them powerless…. A common struggle, however, will bring common triumph.” We remember that within a week after the Stonewall Rebellion, the Gay Liberation Front formed – naming itself to honor the National Liberation fronts (the national resistance movements) in Algeria and Vietnam –, and demanded in solidarity with the Black liberation movement, “Power to the People!”

We remember that our comrade Huey P. Newton, while Chairman of the Black Panther Party, worked for there to be full participation of the gay liberation movement and the women’s liberation movement in the BPP’s revolutionary conferences, rallies, and demonstrations. We remember that he urged revolutionaries to excise any historical anti-gay references because it is the bourgeoisie that are the enemies of the people. He reminded revolutionaries then, and he reminds revolutionaries now, that it is against the bourgeoisie that we must struggle, and it is standing in solidarity with revolutionary LGBTQ* people as well as all oppressed communities that we will achieve freedom.

This particular day, the 20th of November, was chosen to honor Rita Hester whose murder on November 28th, 1998, lead to the first candlelight vigil in San Francisco in 1999.

We urge all revolutionaries to support the initiatives that exist on your campuses and in your cities to memorialize the trans people who fell victim to trans misogyny. We believe we must struggle to build with our queer and trans comrades relationships of support and solidarity, of communal action and common struggle, not unlike the relationship the Young Lords had with Silvia Rivera and STAR. “It was just the respect they [the Young Lords] gave us as human beings, Silvia Rivera said. They gave us a lot of respect.”

We remember the historical legacy of communal action and close-ties between anti-capitalists and queer & trans folks. We remember that we are here to learn from one another and to struggle with one another; let us not forget the words of Lilla Watson, “If you come here to help me, you’re wasting your time. If you come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

Politicians Are Liars, And Trudeau Isn’t Any Different

Tomorrow, on March 28th 2014, Justin Trudeau is coming to the ‘Gonk to try to convince students to vote (presumably for the Liberals) in the upcoming election, to become politically involved, despite the falling voter turn-out due to a general disenchantment wand loss of confidence in our bourgeois parliamentary ‘democracy.’ All over Canada, it’s plain to see that folks know that politicians lie when they claim their Party is fighting for them and has their interests at heart.

It’s increasingly clear that due to the cowardly and tentative nature of the self-professed liberal, progressive, radical middle-class elements in this bourgeois parliamentary game; it’s necessary for the working class to organize independently to safeguard our own class interests. Canadian parliamentary ‘representative democracy’ is in fact just another instrument of the ruling class to remain in power, and their elections are elements in this parliamentary game that aims to convince us that is true democracy. However, as soon as elected officials are shown a chance to bring about any systemic change in the interests of the working class through electoral politics, to act in the interest of the people so to speak, they defend instead time and time again fiercely the interests of the bourgeoisie.

True democracy, the dictatorship of the Proletariat, will not come by casting ballots during election season but by struggling to smash capitalism. Come out tomorrow, Friday March 28 to the Algonquin Commons Theatre to express your dissatisfaction with bourgeois parliamentary politics, and your desire for a real alternative to capitalist drudgery.

Doors open at 12 pm, the event begins at 12:30 pm

Look for the Red&Gold swag (banners and posters).

QSA Under Fire: Rally for Support

Against homophobia and trans*phobia! Against capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism!

The struggle against homophobia and trans*phobia is part of the struggle for socialism!

The Revolutionary Student Movement: Algonquin College Chapter (RSM), in light of the attack on the Queer Student Alliance (QSA) office, wishes to express our solidarity with the QSA and outrage against what is rightfully being called a hate crime. The RSM is totally in support of LGBTQ+ folks in their struggles for liberation and for basic democratic rights; we consider these struggles to be an important part of the broader fight against capitalism as a whole. As we say in our mandate, “We will end exploitation, alienation, and all oppressions by supporting struggles against institutional and individual oppressions in their various forms. We strive to support externally and maintain internally a strong anti-racist, anti-ableist, anti-homophobic, anti-trans*phobic, and proletarian feminist culture in both word and action.” We denounce the cowardly attack made against our LGBTQ+ comrades and wish to offer our support in any efforts to fight back against hate.

Why is support for LGBTQ+ struggles important for the RSM? Within this capitalist system, each and every person is no more than a cog in the machinery that uses humans to constantly produce wealth. Our relations to one another are meticulously pre-determined and plotted out by the ruling class, and our movement within this hierarchy is limited by unbreakable glass ceilings (with very, very few exceptions). Consequently, ‘traditional’ gender roles, including but not limited to sexual preferences and exterior presentation, were crafted to support this system; and strict, rigorous, and immutable social norms have, through blood, sweat, and tears, been enforced – and continue to be.

We maintain that the gender-binary is a pillar of social and class relations and capitalist oppression. The unpaid labour of women, in the form of domestic work, is necessary for capitalism to exist; if women were to be paid for this labour, it would undercut the ability for capitalists to profit. Therefore, if members of society cease to relate to each other through a rigid structure in one area, all areas are seen as under attack by the ruling class. By engaging in homosexual and trans*behaviors and ‘life-styles,’ some individuals fail to fulfill prescribed roles and functions (and to relate to one-another based on these artificial constructs); they fly in the face of this pre-determined mold. While being LGBTQ+ is not in-and-of-itself an act of resistance against capitalism, homophobia and trans*phobia certainly have their root in the attempt to enforce the strict gender roles necessary for capitalism to continue. And because of this, the RSM is proud to struggle against misogyny, homophobia, and trans*phobia alongside capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism; we see these struggles as necessarily bound together.

We call for this hate crime committed against the QSA center to be treated with the seriousness it deserves. We call for direct action showing our resolve as a campus to fight back against hateful attacks. Algonquin security and the police will not admit that these attacks were a hate crime against the LGBTQ+ community at Algonquin College; if the establishment will turn a blind eye to hate on campus, we will not. We call on all LGBTQ+ folks, and straight allies to come together next Friday, February 14 (Valentine’s Day 2014) at 14:00 in the second floor of the Student Commons for a rally against the hate attacks on the QSA. Let’s show the perpetrator that Algonquin students are watching. Let’s show strength in the face of cowardice. Let’s show solidarity with our queer comrades. And most of all, let’s make this a day to celebrate all forms of love, straight and queer.

“At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.” – Che Guevara