The Quebec Tuition Hike

The Quebec Tuition Hike

Submitted by William Letellier-Black

Here’s Bill’s take on the Quebec Tuition Fee Increase:

I’ve been avoiding this topic for weeks now, because I’m not someone who enjoys conflict, and this subject is riddled with it. I’m talking about the tuition increase.

First, I believe it’s in my personal nature to fear bandwagoning, and that’s why I’ve always mentally sided with the green squares whenever I was surrounded by red squares, and vice-versa. I’m not someone who enjoys researching on debates, or trying to find arguments for and against. And honestly, what I’ve come to realize is that no one can be totally sure of 100% of what they’re saying. No one knows their stuff that well. Objectivity doesn’t exist, all viewpoints are biased because we’re emotional beings from the start. Just wanna get that out there, because it just seems to me that whenever I think I’ve found the arguments that win me over, someone comes and fouls it up with something smarter, better-sounding and generally better. And that’s why this has been one big mental clusterf*&k, and to be honest, I’m tired of thinking about facts and detail.

It’s been hard to get totally unbiased information, because it is such an emotional debate; it is the Underdogs vs The Man, it is the brave soldiers versus the greedy suits, it is the voice of thousands versus the voice of the few.

Of course, if you’re a green square, it’s about trying to restore peace and order in a land of violent conflict and destruction. But in any case, it’s definitely become something that is fueled by images: images of police brutality, violence in the streets, of hypocritical politicians lying through their teeth while the people demand truth. But more than truth, I think they demand equality. Now, I believe the main point that red squares are trying to raise is that education is a right, and not a privilege. As in, we’re all equals and our chances to go to university should be treated as such. I’ll admit that in my idealistic little heart, I thought that University was the place to go when you earned it.

As in, it’s the due-paying days of learning and living and that’s why you need to pay more for it because you need to prove to it that you can go out there and earn your higher education. That’s what I’d like to believe in. But then again, university can’t be a job factory: you need people to go there just to go there.

Because what I just described about University being for the driven, motivated, success machines is a part of fascism: it is an idealistic vision of a world where everyone is out there to be the best they can be, to contribute as much as everyone should. It seems nice, but it’s not realistic. You need your grass-lounging hippies to just chill at university, because that’s realistic. You need people in all kinds of different fields, as practical or as theoretical as they go, because in that sense, university can’t be a privilege, because privilege means exclusivity for the elite, in this case the rich, and not necessarily the hard-working middle or poor-class guy. University being a privilege is something we should feel about going to it, but it’s not something we can put down on paper in financial terms. Because then we fall into high-class snobbism.

Slowly but surely throughout this crisis, I’ve fallen under the spell of the red squares for a couple of reasons. First, one can’t deny that it is damn cool to see apathy get its ass kicked by people willing to give a stuff. Second, the arguments I’ve heard against the tuition hike far outnumber and outsmart the ones for it. I’d talk about them in detail, but that would be extremely long and boring. Videos like “Les 7 mythes de la hausse des frais de scolarité” were very interesting and got me thinking that maybe red squares had some good ideas that put Charest’s to shame. Indeed, the green party seemed to repeat many of the same topics: Quebec already has a low fee, we owe a lot, we’re entitled, etc.

Yet these arguments have been countered time and time again by the red squares, and in any case, Bill 78 takes the cake when it comes to “a law that is sure to cause revolt”. Bill 78 is ridiculous, and yet another testament to the power of Quebec “minor official regulations”; a party of 50 is now dangerous, and now the comedy of the situation arises.

I could rant on and on, but my main point is this: I admit to having been converted into a red square, and I hope you will too, because enough is enough, and whether you can afford the tuition fee hike or not is besides the point now. Bill 78 is atrocious, and demands that it be cancelled, because it is something clearly conjured up “solve a situation”, but it will only create more annoying governance issues in a province that already has enough bureaucratic nightmares.

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