Stu­dents De­mand Com­pen­sa­tion

Pro­test and Strike Against Un­paid In­tern­ships

Le Délit - - News - Ge­ne­vieve Vande Wiele No­bert News Wri­ters

More than 58,000 stu­dents across the pro­vince of Que­bec went on strike this week, de­man­ding that they be paid for their la­bour. A re­gio­nal pro­test was or­ga­ni­zed in down­town Mon­treal by student as­so­cia­tions on Wed­nes­day No­vem­ber 21. Both Cé­gep and Uni­ver­si­ty or­ga­ni­za­tions par­ti­ci­pa­ted, with contin­gents from Cé­gep Ma­rie-vic­to­rin, Cé­gep du Vieux - Mon­treal, and Cé­gep St-laurent, UQAM, Uni­ver­si­té De Mont­réal, and Mcgill’s So­cial Work Student As­so­cia­tion. Other pro­tests were al­so or­ga­ni­zed in Sher­brooke and Gatineau on the same day.

Isa­belle, a student in So­cial Work at UQAM, present at Wed­nes­day’s pro­test, al­so echoed this mes­sage of in­ter-ins­ti­tu­tio­nal so­li­da­ri­ty: “we can see it to­day, as we’re all mee­ting at the same place and wal­king together for the same ob­jec­tive, I think that it’s ve­ry sti­mu­la­ting.” Isa­belle be­lieves the is­sue of un­paid la­bour to be a fe­mi­nist one, a sen­ti­ment echoed by ma­ny others at the pro­test. The areas of work sub­ject to man­da­to­ry un­paid in­tern­ships of­ten fall in the sec­tor of care, a tra­di­tio­nal­ly fe­mi­ni­zed and de­va­lued area of la­bour. As ma­ny pro­tes­ters as­ser­ted, ex­pec­ting stu­dents to work in care sec­tors for free fur­ther per­pe­tuates this no­tion.

Student groups re­pre­sen­ting areas of stu­dy where un­paid in­tern­ships are man­da­to­ry have been or­ga­ni­zing against un­paid in­tern­ships for some time. Mcgill’s So­cial Work Stu­dents As­so­cia­tion ( SWSA) has been ac­ti­ve­ly wor­king in col­la­bo­ra­tion with other so­cial work stu­dents at UQAM and Udem since the win­ter se­mes­ter of last year. Vincent Mous­seau, VP in­ter­nal of SWSA, told the Dai­ly that mo­bi­li­za­tion has not been ea­sy. SWSA has en­coun­te­red a strong re­sis­tance from the ad­mi­nis­tra­tion. Mous­seau said they be­lieve these at­ti­tudes to be a “com­plete dis­re­gard for the mo­bi­li­za­tion ef­forts of stu­dents, and the aca­de­mic free­dom of their own pro­fes­sors.” Af­ter pro­fes­sors in the School of So­cial Work vo­ted to can­cel their classes in sup­port of the strike, the ad­mi­nis­tra­tion or­de­red them to conti­nue hol­ding their classes. Mous­seau stres­sed how im­por­tant it was for SWSA to be wor­king in so­li­da­ri­ty with stu­dents from other es­ta­blish­ments. “There is a le­ga­cy of student pro­test in Que­bec that has, for a long time, been re­gu­la­ted to the fran­co­phone spheres of post­se­con­da­ry edu­ca­tion,” they said. “A lot of the work that SWSA has been doing over the past couple of years has been to at­tempt to bridge the lan­guage gap bet­ween us, and to si­tuate so­cial work stu­dents at Mcgill in our com­mu­ni­ties ( and thus in Que­bec). We have been wel­co­med with open arms by fran­co­phone stu­dents, who are hap­py to see that these is­sues are fi­nal­ly tra­ver­sing the lin­guis­tic bar­riers. I think it is clear that we can do so much more together than we can do in­di­vi­dual­ly.”

“There is a le­ga­cy of student pro­test in Que­bec.” – Vincent Mous­seau

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