Reconceptualization of values needed to achieve free education

Photos from the rally follow the article.

Last Tuesday, the Revolutionary Student Movement, in collaboration with the TCSA as part of Fairness for International Students Week, organized the Red Spring Day of Action at Trent.

Boykin Smith, TCSA’s Vice President Campaigns and Equity, was present at the event and showed support for the day of action. The TCSA was active in helping organize this event.

The goal of the Fairness for International Students week at Trent University was to raise awareness about the struggles that International Students within Ontario endure in terms of access to healthcare, unregulated tuition and also Immigration Law. The day of action was part of the events that took place last week that offered numerous opportunities to have open discussions.

The protesters met at Gzowski and walked around campus voicing demands such as: “Revolution is the only solution,” and “Open access education, Trent is not a corporation.”

The Revolutionary Student Movement (RSM) distributed handouts that outlined their main objective: democratic, liberating, and anti-colonial education.

They explain that the student movements across Canada are taking place three years after the biggest strike in Quebec’s history.

The movement argues that they are aware of the complexity of issues and the number of goals that the student movements have but that urgent action is needed.

Their immediate task is to support the student strikes and to attempt to spread them as widely as possible, they voiced.

The movement also describes itself as an anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-oppressive, and anti-colonial student movement. Their statement argues that in the context of austerity and as the attack on the already limited civil liberties increases, Indigenous peoples continue to struggle against the oppression of colonialism, so it is necessary to get organized and to fight back.

Among the protesters, there was a soviet flag waving. The Revolutionary Student Movement’s logo features the same hammer and sickle.

To an extent, the flag and the symbols previously described are said to describe the revolutionary nature of the movement. However, is it really beneficial for the movement and its demands?

The red Soviet flag is used to represent many different things, and waving it does perhaps more harm than good to the realization of the movement’s demands. Does it represent communism?

What about the struggle of Russian peoples in the early 20th century? Is it a symbol of Stalin’s rule? Using these highly convoluted symbols has the effect of evoking different reactions to the movement, which could detract attention from the actual demands.

In order to achieve free, liberating education that is seen as a right and not as a commodity, a reconceptualization of what we value is needed.

In turn, this needs a reevaluation of our priorities as a society, as a global society. This will need the elaboration of new symbols and new methods to contribute to today’s fight.

The fight for social justice is certainly strengthened by student movements such as RSM, which must take advantage of the momentum being built to push forward their demands.

These types of movements are gathering momentum given the unjust and enormous inequalities that our society is facing. Engaging in meaningful and innovative discussions about the possible alternatives is needed if the current structures that perpetuate inequalities are to be challenged.

Social justice is not going to crystalize itself and those privileged enough to have the ability to respond to the challenge have the responsibility to do so.
For more information on the RSM statement please visit:

All photos by Keila MacPherson