Four More Student Associations Vote for Fall Reading Week Strike

The results of four additional student strike votes are in

School of Community and Public Affairs students gather at The Hive to vote. Photo by Gabriela Vasquez Rondon

Between September 14 and 16, students majoring in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, journalism, community and public affairs, immigration studies, and first people studies voted to go on strike for a fall reading week.

The Arts and Sciences Association of Associations has rallied its affiliates and coordinated plans for strike voting. The groups that voted in favor are likely to be joined by more when general assemblies are held in the coming weeks.

CUBCAPS General Assembly

Despite taking over 30 minutes to reach their association’s required quorum, students at the Concordia Undergraduate Biochemistry, Chemistry and Physics Society took their time to vote on their strike motion.

On September 14, CUBCAPS, ASFA’s third member association, voted on a fall reading week strike. After some moderate debate, particularly over the logistics and details of the strike, the students voted in favor of the motion. Nineteen voted in favour, two opposed the motion.

Rami Zemouri, the vice president of the Academy for Physics Students, reiterated the importance of voting on the motion. “For a few years now, Concordia has been saying they would be introducing a fall reading week: that was four years ago.”

“The reason why they didn’t implement it [one] This year,” Zemouri claimed, “should raise awareness for next year’s Reading Week. That’s hardly a good reason.”

Given the special circumstances of majors such as chemistry and physics, the students voted to amend the strike motion. This change would exempt labs from the strike: all students who have to attend to their lab work would not cross the picket lines.

JSA General Assembly

The Journalism Student Association held its Annual General Meeting on Thursday, September 15 at 5:15 p.m. A strike call for a reading week in the fall was passed. It was also decided to change the agenda to include a climate strike.

Since the last JSA strike was a long time ago, the association expects many questions from the students. Autumn Darey, Executive of Social, said the JSA will be posting on social media and emailing students about what they need to do during the strike.

“The reason we wanted to pass this is not just so students would vote to go on strike, but to give them the opportunity to go on strike. Due to COVID-19, participating in student life has been more difficult. We wanted to show students that they could do this and make a difference,” said Darey.

An amendment to the Articles of Association regarding conflicts of interest was passed. The change prevents members of the JSA from being managing members of student newspapers. “Voting went well as long as the students are happy,” said Darey.

SCPASA General Assembly

The Student Association of the School of Community and Public Affairs held their general assembly on September 15 at 6 p.m. at the Hive Café Co-op. On the agenda was the eagerly awaited strike motion for a reading week in autumn 2022.

“We didn’t have a history that was as active – especially during COVID – so this committee was brought together [showed] how interested people really were in the strike,” said Hana Sherafati Zanganeh, SCPASA communications secretary.

During a discussion of an agenda item regarding how best to meet the needs of students in the First People’s Studies program, one student requested that FPST be included in the vote later that evening.

The student wanted to emphasize the existence of FPST within SCPASA so there would be no question that their program would also go on strike. The motion was passed with 23 votes in favour, 0 against and 3 abstentions.

Veronica Galavis, social secretary of SCPASA, mentioned how she has been organizing these types of strikes for a long time. As an example, Galavis cites the “trial strike” last semester, during which SCPASA mobilized and went on strike to advocate for free education and decolonial climate protection measures.

“I would vote for a strike. It is important that you exercise your democratic rights as a student. I’m sick of hearing promises from Concordia that aren’t being kept,” said Ella Albers, a sophomore at SCPA.

21 students voted to accept the application to participate in the reading week in autumn 2022. Five voted against the strike, five abstained.

“[Concordia] was intimidated that we went on strike in March, just a small student union, and so the fact that we are [now] When they’re working towards the same goal with a crowd of others, they should be nervous,” added Lacey Boudreau, secretary for academic affairs and advocacy.

BSA General Assembly

The Biology Student Association held its General Assembly on September 16 in a hybrid format. Around 10 students gathered in a conference room in the Center for Structural and Functional Genomics building on Loyola’s campus, while around two dozen joined via Zoom.

The BSA joined the Urban Planning Association as the only two associations able to vote on the fall reading week strike without a single dissenting vote. Twenty-seven BSA students voted to go on strike and four students abstained.

Vice President of Finance Melissa Siclait reiterated the importance of such a strike. “Since 2019, Concordia has promised to give us a week of reading, but they have repeatedly postponed the date. Other universities have it, but we don’t.”

“We think it will be beneficial for students because people are a lot more stressed after the pandemic. You’ve earned a week off,” Siclait added.

Solidarity was a big sticking point for BSA President Max Kerby Henry Edmond. “If we are all united, the government cannot divide us. If we vote to strike, our power dynamic changes: we have more power together,” he said.

The strike motion included a provision to bar labs from striking, as was the CUBCAPS motion.

After the vote was accepted, a second motion was presented by the executives. The BSA voted unanimously to donate US$200 to the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada as a show of solidarity between the association and Indigenous communities.

Disclaimer: Zachary Fortier is a journalism student and therefore a member of the Journalism Student Association. He was not involved in the reporting or editing related to the JSA portion of this article.

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