The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

A rioting good time: some perspective on the ongoing student protests in Quebec

By in Opinions

For the past several weeks, whenever people talk about the ongoing protests in Quebec regarding post-secondary education, the comments seem to be more often than not soaked in bitterness about the ingratitude, disillusionment and entitled attitude of the protestors.

I understand this perspective, but I don’t share it.

As part of a university whose tuition annually increases with no respect for my accumulating student debt, I get it. I think the majority of university-going Canadians understand this perspective. However, I can’t help but worry that we are missing something in our frustration with the protestors.

Upon hearing of the cuts and drastic, seemingly careless changes being made to my own program at the U of S, it is difficult to nod and smile as I pay 4.4 per cent more tuition each year for a degree whose value is diminishing. I begrudge Québécois students less and less as I increasingly desire to regain my own voice as a protester, activist and individual.

Unfortunately, the idea of creating a protest of any sort in our community seems almost laughable. The apathy of our society can feel palpable at times.

Social media and new technology are supposed to make us more connected to the world but most of the time I cannot help but feel trapped in this world-wide web. I have causes that I care for and reasons I want to fight but I feel powerless as an individual and it seems impossible to truly unite the vague online acquaintances that I have and to promote interest in an idea that translates into action beyond a heated debate on an online forum.

I cannot agree with all the methods or demands of the protestors in Quebec. But the reality of a protest is that it is not always clean-cut and presumably there is fall-out that the protesters never could have predicted as part of the outcome.

Even so, I do not believe it is unreasonable to feel some envy for those involved in the Quebec protests. What I covet is this: to be a part of a community inspired to take action and desperate to make a change for what they believe will be a better future.

Photo: Shahk/Flickr

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