THE ONTARIO STUDENT MOVEMENT WILL NOT BE CO-OPTED

THE ONTARIO STUDENT MOVEMENT WILL NOT BE CO-OPTED

Yesterday the Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario (CFS-ON) launched a callout for a province wide student walkout on March 20th at noon. It is an interesting coincidence that they chose to initiate a callout for action on that specific date. This date and time is exactly the same as the Red Spring Day of Action which we made a public callout for on January 19th and have been actively organizing to promote on campuses across the country. Already the CFS leadership is feigning ignorance about this widely promoted campaign, admitting they didn’t try to reach out to us before announcing it. This is a dishonest and opportunistic move to co-opt and undermine what is and continues to be an independent, radical initiative of student organizers across Canada. Failing to mobilize quickly and effectively themselves, they have chosen to try and graft themselves onto the work of others. They hope to take the credit by throwing money at expensive promotion, photo ops with pictures of paid staffers and plastic mass-produced protest signs, all to go towards lobbying the politicians who keep on passing legislation to harm most students and prevent us from organizing. They will keep on pretending they have any semblance of relevance to the 500,000 students they claim to represent, the absolute majority of whom has never heard of the CFS despite funding it. This action cannot be swept aside as a misunderstanding, a miscommunication or an innocent mistake. Leadership of the group with a multi-million dollar operating budget, paid organizers and deep rooted networks among student bureaucracy knows perfectly well what events are organized by which student group across the country. The CFS exposes itself once again not only as ineffective and not useful to the student movement, but also as harmful to us all.

If they were simply useless, trying to foster professional careers in “activism” and secure jobs as staffers for political parties without repercussions for the lives of students it would be easy to ignore them. But they work to co-op, control and undermine every student initiative that is new, radical and bold. Their ossified bureaucratic apparatus is completely disconnected from the reality of most students and is incapable to represent us. They are rife with corruption and embezzlement scandals, as well as dishonest bureaucratic maneuvering instead of open political engagement. Our future is on the line and the CFS is part of the problem. The working class in Canada is facing harsh austerity attacks ratcheted up by every government and working class students are no exception to this. We are facing higher levels of debt post-graduation, if it is at all possible for some of us to afford attending school in the first place. Upon graduation we find ourselves pushed more and more into working temp jobs for capitalists taking a greater and greater share of the wealth that needs to be shared by us all. The situation is dire and therefore we need a movement that can fight and win. We need to put politics in command and build a genuine student movement led by the interests of the people who face the most oppression while making the most sacrifices and putting in the most work for everything around us to exist. We need to stop asking politicians for handouts. Instead, we need to strike as often and for as long as we need until we win major systemic changes. All the CFS can do is lobby and unsurprisingly in their 38 years of existence we have experienced 38 years of defeat. Their demands are hollow. They may sound appealing at times, but at best they pay lip service to the interests of most students they claim to represent. They call on the government to give us the right to organize, to protect student voices, for more grants less loans, and to eliminate tuition fees. But they are afraid of being bold, decisive and of fighting for these demands. Demands are not gifts to be handed down by benevolent lords but victories we must win on the streets, at our schools and at work. We will never win anything on the negotiating table not already won in struggle.

In contrast, our points of unity are explicitly political, they are not requests we make of a government that we already know would rather see us chained by our debt and dutifully working for them and the profit of their boss friends. And we are tirelessly organizing to mobilize more and more students around these:

  1. Education in the service of the people, not profit!
  2. Guaranteed paid internships for all students
  3. Abolition of tuition fees at all levels of education! Cancellation of all outstanding student debt!
  4. Barrier-free access to post-secondary education for all Indigenous people and an anti-colonial aspect to all programs!
  5. Democratic control of post-secondary institutions!

 

We have no illusions that the task of realising these demands is an easy or simple process. But we cannot afford to keep begging for scraps from the table of the ruling class and we have a plan to win our demands. Our task is to build a working-class student movement capable of exercising powerful, united student strikes. A movement that is only a part of a larger set of revolutionary forces which can demand on the negotiating table what we have already won. This is no small feat, but it is possible. The examples of Quebec in 2012 and 2015 most recently show us that we can win victories by strong, continuous resistance and working class solidarity. We do not see these experiences uncritically, but we also are not afraid to get our hands dirty and actually build a student movement that can fight.

The CFS-Ontario can definitely recognize they are at the brink of total collapse, as they cannot exist without money. And their only response is to attempt to pretend they have been at the helm of the work students across the country have been doing since January for the upcoming Red Spring actions on March 20th. We need to reject their insufficient demands and go beyond trying to prop-up the same failed strategies of the last 38 years. That union bureaucrats would stoop to grafting on to existing work speaks to their own pathetic desperation. Calling for an action to conflict with an already existing organizing efforts of many students across the country is an attempt to damage the student movement and assert their dominance in a hostile way. The government and the ruling class couldn’t have gotten better help than this – seeing a major student organization step on toes of independent, radical organizing to try to split students apart must make them really happy.

We reject any attempts to water down the politics of the student movement. We call on all of our comrades and supporters to completely abandon any kind of engagement with every CFS-aligned initiative. The student movement needs to get rid of this dead weight by building a genuinely radical resistance and organizing. We must fight knowing that it is right to rebel and it is even better to make revolution. We will continue to resist and to build a movement that can smash the current system of for-profit education and oppressive anti-people governments and we will unite the students across this country to build a new, better system in its place.

In Struggle,

Coordinating Committee of the MER-RSM

Ontario Students Rise Up! Red Spring is Coming

Ontario Students Rise Up! Red Spring is Coming

Ever faithful to protecting capitalist interests, the enemies of the people in the government of Ontario have struck another blow against the interests of working class students. This time, it is by increasing the cost of education through a particularly conniving scheme: first, they leaked an announcement about a 10% tuition fee decrease for the 2019-2020 school year. They even promised that tuition fees will be frozen at this level for the following year as well. However, this is a diversion from the real news. The far more significant changes are in the structure of loans through the OSAP program. As always, when we delve deeper we find that behind every such announcement, whatever the rhetoric, the goal is for the government to structure education to train a generation of workers equipped only to take on the jobs they desire to exploit us through, and be pacified both through debt and propaganda.

What are the nuts and bolts of these changes? First, the 6-month post-graduation grace period has been eliminated, making repayment process and loan interest start immediately after graduation. This will result in students being forced into deeper debt, faster than before. It will also push more students into jobs outside of their field of study. This will lead to an increase of the class divide between working class and bourgeois students: working class students bear the brunt of student debt and will not have time to pursue work in the field of their study before they are forced to pay their loans. The second change is the altering of the way available funding is calculated, with the maximum cap put on the portion of funding offered in grants to 50%. This change hits working class students the hardest, since they are predominantly low-income. Previously, the grant-to-loan ratio was scaled to income and the number of dependents an applicant has. Now, while this is still the case, those with minimal income will be saddled with a higher debt load. Ultimately, this will push working class students who have the least ability to pay for the loans to have the greatest amount of debt. These changes should remind us that our education system is constructed to serve the interests of capitalists. These changes will entrench the class divisions amongst students and hurt those of us from the working class especially hard. None of us should be so naïve as to think that any politician today can create an education service that is in our interests. But we can fight to build one both in resisting these changes in the here and now and building a movement that can fundamentally restructure society. We can build a movement that can make revolution.

In addition to these decreases, one of the other changes is the so called “Student Choice Initiative”. The choice, of course, was made for the students by this government, without asking for our permission or opinions. The aim of this initiative is to alter the rules around ancillary fees. When realized, it will direct post-secondary education institutions to let students choose to opt-out of “non-essential” fees. This will be realized in two ways:

1. Student union or association fees will be made optional. We need to remember, that outside Quebec these organizations are not democratic, accountable or connected to serving the interests of most students. Corruption scandals and toothless actions are the order of the day for most student unions across this country. But let us be clear on this: this is an issue that working class students need to solve on our own, by organizing to rebuild our student movement in our interests. Politicians need to keep their filthy hands out of our affairs! And the same goes for school administrations, constantly working to sabotage our future.

2. Other fees and levies that predominantly serve working class students will be undermined. We can think of many examples from food banks to daycare services. These fees, while “non-essential”, primarily help working class students who are in need of assistance. What this change will functionally achieve is to further privatize the provision of services that may not be essential to the school as a whole, but are certainly essential for working class students. These meager handouts are not even enough to adequately help most people in need of assistance, but the attack on it cannot be seen as anything other than an attempt by capitalists to profit further off of the misery they create for us.

Most student groups, including those on the left that oppose this tuition increase have adopted a stance of laying all of the blame on one bad man – Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario. He is certainly a bad man, but the changes we fight against aren’t the result of one man’s actions – they are a result of the governing Conservative party’s policies. But even more so, they are the result of how the Canadian state works, on the federal, provincial and municipal levels. It is the result of it serving the ruling class of the wealthiest capitalists and their interests. We do not have universal, barrier-free and accessible post-secondary education. We do not have an education system that serves the people, we only have a system where we take on a huge debt to be able to qualify as sufficiently-trained workers for the capitalist bosses. Our education system only constantly reproduces society as we know it – a society built on oppressive and outright criminal system of capitalism, colonialism and imperialism. It does not help to bring us towards a better future, towards a different kind of world. And those who cannot afford to take on education get forced into increasingly precarious, low-paying, back-breaking labor that can barely suffice for survival.

Outrage against the actions of this government is justified. However, things will not change through expressions of moral outrage and knee-jerk reactions to every terrible measure that this government announces every few weeks. Students and workers need to organize around longer-term goals instead. We need to unite in a fight for a better world, the way we want to see it. Not just be scattered and on the defensive all the time.

This government has already launched an attack on every working class person in the province, by depriving us of the small, overdue, minimum wage increase. It has attacked us by stealing the much needed guaranteed few paid sick leave days and other basic workplace necessities. In a show of adherence to colonial oppression, it has canceled all work to include the general practices, customs and traditions of Indigenous peoples in geography, history and social studies courses in both elementary and high school curriculum. It has forced our high-schools to revert back to an outdated sex-education curriculum, reversing years of improved understanding of healthier relationships. It has deprived the Francophone communities in Ontario of the funding for their education programs. There is much harm this government has done, and much more it will do.

This is why we call on all the communities, groups and individuals harmed and outraged by all these attacks on the people to join us in taking matters into our own hands. We are calling for a one-day Strike and marches on February 15th at noon. We will organize a walk-out of classes across the province, and we are looking for every bit of solidarity and support!

We aim to increase the resistance further, and we call on all the students in Ontario to join our Red Spring Day of Action on March 20th! Students across the country will mobilize for a one-day strike to shut down the schools and make the following 5 demands:

 

  1. Education in the service of the people, not profit!

Education must serve the interests of the people, not corporations and profit. Everyone needs to have access to post-secondary education. Research has to be done for the benefit of all, not the benefit of capitalists and their wars. A democratic and scientific education must replace the imperialist, settler-colonial and patriarchal curriculum. Education needs to prepare us to struggle for justice and liberation, not simply prepare us to be exploited on the job.

  1. Guaranteed paid internships for all students

Interns are workers and must be paid equally for the same work as other workers in their field. Over 300,000 interns across the country do not get proper pay. The times when employers could exploit intern workers without pay must end now!

  1. Abolition of tuition fees at all levels of education! Cancellation of all outstanding student debt!

Banks and the government keep using students as cash-cows while tuition fees and debt become unbearable for most of us. We will not be held hostage to the scam of having to give an arm and a leg for a basic necessity such as education!

  1. Barrier-free access to post-secondary education for all Indigenous people and an anti-colonial aspect to all programs!

Canada, as a settler-colonial state, is built on stolen land and the genocide of Indigenous nations. All Indigenous people must have barrier-free access to post-secondary education. We support the creation of independent faculties, colleges and universities controlled by the Indigenous people. The education system needs to foster the cultures and languages of Indigenous people within it and include mandatory anti-colonial components in all programs.

  1. Democratic control of post-secondary institutions!

Universities and colleges should be run by the people they serve, not by unelected boards of governors and administrators filled with representatives of the big banks and large corporations. We demand the abolition of boards of governors. Instead, schools must be run by committees elected at a general assembly composed of students, faculty, support staff, and members of the community.

 

We can fight and we will fight, but in order to win it is not enough to just push back against the harmful changes constantly being hurled at us before we can effectively organize to resist. The only way we can hope to win is by building a movement of students and workers capable of putting up a fight. This movement will grow in each and every struggle until we have realized a world where education serves the people, not profit and where the governing rules of society are not exploitation and oppression, but mutual support and solidarity among the working class. In order to achieve this, we need to end capitalism and the capitalist education system. Today, this means gathering together and striking back.

On February 15th join us across Ontario and on March 20th join us coast to coast to coast. Let us be the spark to start a prairie fire and burn down this old system, clearing the way for a new one to grow!

 

No fees, no debt, no barriers to education!

Dare to struggle – dare to win!

Coordinating Committee of the MER-RSM

For more information about getting involved, email: info@mer-rsm.ca

Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RevolutionaryStudentMovement/

 

RED SPRING IS COMING: LET’S SHUT THE SCHOOLS DOWN ON MARCH 20TH!

RED SPRING IS COMING: LET’S SHUT THE SCHOOLS DOWN ON MARCH 20TH!

As we sit in the depths of winter, the many hardships that working class students are faced with seem to have no end in sight, and only get worse as time goes by. But as spring comes to replace this difficult season, so too will the masses rise in defiance to bring about change! It’s time to turn the spring red with the fury of students! For too long we have been forced into a crushing debt, only to be pushed into a world of precarious jobs and unemployment after graduation. For too long we have been denied control over our own education and future. Nevertheless, there is a way to build a better tomorrow: we can organize, resist and fight for a better world! Governments and school administrations can no longer be allowed to keep robbing us through unbearable fees and loans with no repercussions.  We will take control and ownership over our own education, instead of being treated both as clients that need to pay or get out, and obedient subordinates to an education system created without our involvement. We will support national self-determination struggles of all Indigenous people across this part of Turtle Island against the long history of colonial oppression, which must end now. We can and will take action to make this clear. We won’t let the capitalists and their government lapdogs sabotage our future for profit anymore. We will not stop until we win!

The Revolutionary Student Movement has long been at the forefront of struggles against the evils of capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy, racism, imperialist wars, destruction of the environment and more. We are once again staging a coordinated action across the country. In the spring of 2015 we acted in solidarity with the striking Quebec students and mobilized across the country for a Red Spring, to build a wider, more combative student movement. This year, we are launching a series of coordinated actions across the country to grow our resistance further!

We call on all of our comrades, supporters, and anyone who finds this call to action to resonate with them to join us in organizing for a shutdown of every school across Canada this March 20th! At noon local time – walk out of your class and join the actions on your campus! Let us unite into a force to be reckoned with! Let us make this spring a Red Spring of combative resistance, solidarity and change!

We organize with broad, yet clear, political demands. We do not need to do the work of the government and school administrations for them in figuring out how exactly to meet these. Other student groups have been producing detailed plans and fruitlessly lobbying hundreds of politicians for decades, and we are not interested in going down this dead-end path. We are angry and we will not stop until we win.

 

Our 5 core demands are:

  1. Education in the service of the people, not profit!

Education must serve the interests of the people, not corporations and profit. Everyone needs to have access to post-secondary education. Research has to be done for the benefit of all, not the benefit of capitalists and their wars. A democratic and scientific education must replace the imperialist, settler-colonial and patriarchal curriculum. Education needs to prepare us to struggle for justice and liberation, not simply prepare us to be exploited on the job.

  1. Guaranteed paid internships for all students

Interns are workers and must be paid equally for the same work as other workers in their field. Over 300,000 interns across the country do not get proper pay. The times when employers could exploit intern workers without pay must end now!

  1. Abolition of tuition fees at all levels of education! Cancellation of all outstanding student debt!

Banks and the government keep using students as cash-cows while tuition fees and debt become unbearable for most of us. We will not be held hostage to the scam of having to give an arm and a leg for a basic necessity such as education!

  1. Barrier-free access to post-secondary education for all Indigenous people and an anti-colonial aspect to all programs!

Canada, as a settler-colonial state, is built on stolen land and the genocide of Indigenous nations. All Indigenous people must have barrier-free access to post-secondary education. We support the creation of independent faculties, colleges and universities controlled by the Indigenous people. The education system needs to foster the cultures and languages of Indigenous people within it and include mandatory anti-colonial components in all programs.

  1. Democratic control of post-secondary institutions!

Universities and colleges should be run by the people they serve, not by unelected boards of governors and administrators filled with representatives of the big banks and large corporations. We demand the abolition of boards of governors. Instead, schools must be run by committees elected at a general assembly composed of students, faculty, support staff, and members of the community.

 

While these demands are more radical than the demands of any other progressive student group, we do not see them as end-goals in and of themselves. We believe that we need to grow the power of the masses to change the root causes of the hardships most people around us suffer from today. To us, these root causes are: capitalism, colonialism and imperialism. They shape the main aspects of the world around us. Protests and walk-outs to disrupt the usual order of things at schools is just the beginning. We are organizing towards a country-wide student strike in the coming years, because strikes are one of the most powerful tools we have in fighting for our interests. But even that is not the end goal our organizing. We don’t stop when the demands we are fighting for are met. We will continue to organize until the root-causes of most of our problems and hardships will be eliminated: when we make Revolution, united with all the revolutionary forces across society, and achieve a genuine socialist society. Only then can all of us be truly free.

This may sound like a long way from where we are all today, so where should we start? It all starts from students organizing to fight back against the rotten capitalist education system as it currently stands. Come out to organizing meetings on your campus, reach out to us if you want to organize them, spread the word – we need to rise up together, so we can win together!

No fees, no debt, no barriers to education!

Dare to struggle – dare to win!

In Struggle,
Coordinating Committee of the MER-RSM

 

For more information about getting involved, email: info@mer-rsm.ca

Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RevolutionaryStudentMovement/