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Report from the Nov. 2nd Student Day of Action and Next Steps Forward! (Revolutionary Student Movement - Sudbury Chapter)

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Report from the Nov. 2nd Student Day of Action
and  Next Steps Forward!
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The November 2nd National Student Day of Action, called for by the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), drew an energetic crowd of students and supporters on the Laurentian University campus. The day’s mass walkout, march and rally were successfully organized by a mobilization committee (mobcom) launched by the CFS, which brought some LU student associations together with other campus groups, and in which RSM-Sudbury was a leading participant. See the full photo album from the action here.
Students converged at the School of Education building after walking out of classes at 11am. RSM members and supporters assembled as part of an anti-capitalist Red Contingent. With chants, leaflets, banner and flags, we called for the unity of revolutionary and working-class students in the movement to abolish tuition. We urged attendees to intensify the struggle and build the Day of Action into a student strike across the country, and called for democratization of campus politics and student unions as the means to achieve this.
The march took the streets and made its way around campus, ending with a rally featuring reps from various campus groups and associations. Speakers expanded on the mobcom’s demands for free, accessible, democratically-controlled and anti-colonial post-secondary education for all. An RSM organizer spoke for the Red Contingent, stressing the need to break with the lobbyist practices, bureaucratic structures and reformist politics that trap our fighting potential, and ending with a rousing call for proletarian students to unite, organize and lead the fight.
RSM-Sudbury strove to do just that through our work in and beyond the mobcom. We successfully argued for adoption of perspectives which guided the work of the mobcom afterward. In the weeks leading up to the Day of Action, we used all means to promote it among students on the LU campus and in the community, framing it as just one step in a longer march. This included a successful movie and pub night organized together with the mobcom and themed around the student strike, where we screened documentaries on the 2012 Québec student strike and the role of anarchists and revolutionary communists in it. Perhaps most importantly, we did not shy away from launching sharp criticisms of the existing student movement both within the mobcom and in our broader agitational work.
Barriers to a Fighting Student Movement
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The Day of Action was an overall positive experience at LU, but it also served to flesh out RSM’s critique of the CFS as an ossified, anti-democratic, bureaucratic and reformist organization that serves as a barrier to the creation of a combative student movement in English Canada. Before this semester, most members of our local chapter had no contact with the CFS due to its relative inactivity at LU for many years. For us the pan-Canadian RSM’s line on the CFS was only confirmed by our concrete experiences working in the mobcom – although we were fortunate not to have faced the kind of severe sectarianism from them that was reported by militant organizers elsewhere, like at the University of Manitoba, where militant organizers who advocated for the student strike were prevented from addressing the crowd.
We must also highlight how the biggest student union at LU, the anglophone undergrad Students General Association (SGA), refused to participate in the mobcom or the Day of Action, even just on paper. But it was no surprise that the right-wing executive clique that has entrenched itself at the head of the SGA for years would again fail to take up any position that sided with the students rather than the administration. The SGA will never serve the struggles of those students who have the most to gain from fighting, until it is democratized by replacing the bureaucratic power of the execs with a direct-democratic General Assembly representing the popular power of all students in the union.

Moving Forward: What is to Be Done?

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Following the Day of Action, the pan-Canadian RSM proposed the following concrete next steps as a program for building a fighting student movement across Canada:
  1. Students should fight for General Assemblies as the highest decision making bodies of their student unions. In turn, where General Assemblies already exist, students should fight for General Assemblies at both the campus and faculty level.
  2. Revolutionary students should campaign and promote the idea of a one-day strike against tuition.
  3. Votes for a one-day strike against tuition should be held in General Assemblies where they exist as a means of building a culture of striking.
  4. These sorts of activities should be continued and escalated, until it is possible to coordinate strikes between campuses.
  5. Strikes should serve as a way of forcing social crises where possible: we will force the state and ruling class to act, rather than simply beg them for table scraps. [Read the full statement.]
Along these lines, RSM-Sudbury will be working with other campus groups and individuals to launch a General Assembly campaign at LU in the Winter semester. We invite everyone who participated in the Nov. 2nd action to keep up the momentum and contact us to start planning next steps immediately. You may also drop by our weekly meetings: every Thursday, 7-9pm in room C-318 of the Classroom Building at LU.
The end of tuition, debt, the bourgeois education system, and capitalism are all possible. But in order to win, we need to be organized, and ultimately we need revolution.
For a truly democratic student movement in English Canada!
Towards a student strike for the elimination of tuition fees!

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