Tuesday, March 24, will see the Revolutionary Student Movement (RSM) mobilize Trent students to organize in solidarity against the furthering increase of tuition and to rally together against austerity.
The March 24 Day of Action, endorsed by the Trent Central Student Association at the spring Annual General Meeting, will be in correlation with a pan-Canadian day of action that will see strikes, rallies, and walkouts across the country.
The rally at Trent is scheduled to start outside of Gzowski College at noon. The rally will make its way across campus in a demonstration format and will feature speakers from the RSM and others.
The Day of Action, as a broader Canadian movement, has illustrated 5 clear demands for what they are seeking to achieve.
1. Abolition of tuition at all levels of education and the cancellation of all outstanding student debt.
2. Open access to post-secondary for all.
3. Access to post-secondary education for all Indigenous people and an anti-colonial aspect to all programs.
4. Education in the service of the people and not profit.
5. Democratic control of Post-Secondary institutions.
The movement that is uniting students and workers to fight for free and accessible education has its roots in Quebec, where the last call saw 80,000 students strike on Halloween of 2014. This level of organization and militancy simply doesn’t exist in Ontario, however, where students have the highest tuition fees and the lowest per-capita funding for education.
The Day of Action is seeking to introduce this level of unification across the rest of the country as a means to effectively push back against austerity. Similar movements are happening during the same week across the country and are being mobilized by the RSM under the hashtag #redspring2015.
The RSM is still a relatively new organization; a product of a variety of like-minded organizations across the country amalgamating into one unified organization. Currently there are 14 sections across 10 cities including movements at the University of Toronto and the University of Ottawa.
RSM at Trent was founded in September 2014 and has spent the year organizing and educating while simultaneously trying to engage students. The past few weeks has seen the group preparing for the day and spreading awareness that this movement has come to Trent.
The organization has been circulating a petition of interest (which had garnered well over 100 signatures at the start of the week) and has been reaching out to students through classes, meetings, and social media to try and implement a strong level of resistance to student debt and ever-increasing tuition.
According to Ken Kollontai, an active member of Trent’s chapter of RSM, the reasoning behind this is “…I see student activism as needing to be militant. By that, I don’t mean violent but I do mean antagonistic; realizing that sometimes there is an us and a them.”
Kollontai also added that the Day of Action is in conjunction with a much larger sentiment felt amongst students across the country – the debilitating realities associated with student debt. Pushback against this has been seen with campaigns such as Debt Sentence and The Hike Stops Here.
The RSM and the Day of Action is approaching the issue with more militancy, supporting strike mandates for teaching assistants for instance. According to Kollontai, the RSM has taken the stance of “…this is our vision of education, we realize that we don’t share it [with everybody] but we’re not willing to compromise.”
Kollontai also said, “I think what people are realizing is that if they don’t take a stand now, it might be too late. We have to take a militant stand and we have to struggle for this and we have to fight – whatever that fight may be: a strike or a walkout or whatever.”
The RSM fights under the banner of socialism and communism in Canada and are truly an anti-capitalism organization. While this sentiment certainly doesn’t appeal to all, student support for fighting against student debt seems to be widely shared and accepted amongst Canadian students.