How should we respond to an administration that does not want to respect a student strike?

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As student strikes approach, many administrations have threatened to send security or call the police in the event of a picket. People who have exercised their right to strike on their campuses have shared experiences that facilitate the application of strike mandates.

The following are the responses received from people in the HUB community.

Prepare in advance

Have a strike protocol signed “It all depends on the association's relationship with the administrator, but a strike protocol signed between the two parties is the best option because it gives the best possible relationship. But that requires an opening of the admin and the concessions of the associations."
Prepare a strategy in case of hostilities “Yes it has been seen by admins who have refused picketing, in this case you have to decide on the strategy in the association, how far you want to go, we can consider other forms of picketing aka not one hard picketing, but other forms of disruption (easier to enforce than hard picketing which could be broken by an injunction for example)."

See examples below.

Possible strategies in the event of hostilities

Negotiate a strike protocol

By making significant concessions, such as excluding certain programs or activities from the strike mandate.

Picketing anyways

"If we have motivated people, we can still go there for picketing, but it's not the best option knowing that [people] expose themselves to consequences either from the admin or from the police."

Contact journalists

“Honestly, we had had a simple experience of censorship at [our institution in connection with our mobilization] and our best option was to contact the media to denounce the practices of the university."

Waive lessons yourselves

“For me the best option is to end classes first by encouraging staff and students to respect the strike mandate. Teachers sensitive to the cause will not have the right not to show up, but they will be able to rearrange their courses to avoid penalizing students who respect the strike mandate."

  • It takes people: “Again, it takes people, but the advantage is that the police will not intervene unless a student has a court order. The reason is that you are not preventing access to the premises (AKA the property of the institution). 'You ensure compliance with the strike mandate, which is really different."
  • Inform students of the end of classes: In the email sent following a strike vote, explain the end of classes to students and invite them to participate. It's easy to include information about the end of classes in a strike day schedule. This makes the involvement of people in raising courses more accessible. I.e.“9:20 a.m. Leaving classes , meeting in front of the [LOCAL]”
  • Go through the classes one by one: tell the students that the course is suspended, because a strike has been voted. Associations have a list of courses (and their location) that can be used to find out which courses to waive. Make teams to divide the task and note the courses surveyed so as not to forget any.
  • In case of a problem... Make sure that the people who waive classes have the email address of the person responsible for academic affairs (a role in the student association). Contact them in the event of a problem with teaching staff when classes are waived.

Reaction of the administration to strike votes

You can anticipate (and inform the student community) that the administration will send a message following a strike vote.

Here is a model message as an example of what may be sent by university administration:

Faculty associations passed strike votes for [details].
The management of the [institution] would like to remind you of the following instructions:

  • The University will remain open and continue its activities [...]. The Management will take the appropriate measures to promote access to the pavilions.
  • The teaching staff must give their lessons according to the methods and schedule provided, if the normal teaching conditions are met. 
  • Support staff, including those who are students, must also be at work, according to the terms and schedule provided.

In the event that members of student associations demonstrate or boycott classes, respect for the rights of other members of the community must be observed and any conflictual situation avoided, in accordance with the Charter of Rights and Responsibilities of Students of the [institution].

A few considerations:

  • Management will probably say that everything will go according to plan, although a strike has been voted.
  • Teaching staff will be required to report to their class. If students are present, “the normal teaching conditions are met”. However, if no one comes to class OR the class is closed, the normal teaching conditions are NOT met.
  • Some people within the faculty will invite the student body to respect the strike mandate while others will scare them if they respect the strike mandate. This is why the lifting of the courses makes it possible to ensure the greatest respect of the mandate.

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