MONTREAL – The scene outside Vanier College resembled the strident protests during the strikes at the height of the student protest movement: administrators cancelled class, and students shouted slogans into megaphones as they gathered outside the building.
Their issue lay not with tuition or getting on the list of electors, but with a controversial new Quebec history course the provincial government is requiring colleges like Vanier to teach. The new course would eliminate one of the two elective courses – called “complimentaries” – that students take as part of the CEGEP curriculum. And administrators at Vanier worry that the course would include a political component.
While he concedes little concrete is known about the course, Eric Lozowy, a dean at Vanier, said it appears the course would undermine multiculturalism as it’s currently taught.
“There is some ideology, there’s some kind of ideological slant of that course,” Lozowy said. “That goes against who we are at Vanier College.”
“Somehow they want to pull away from a pluralistic conception of Quebec,” he said.
Students, like Omar Riaz, seem more infuriated about the loss of elective courses.
“If I’m a science student, and I want to take an arts course, or a language course, if this Quebec history course is put in place we’re not going to be able to do that,” he said. Riaz is the president of the Vanier College Student Association, and spearheaded the student protests Thursday morning.
Other CEGEPs may end up following suit. The administration of John Abbott College described the new course requirement as “problematic,” but didn’t foresee any protests.
Quebec’s higher education ministry responded by e-mail that it is taking these concerns into account.
The upcoming provincial election could make the issue a moot point if there’s a change in government. The implementation for the new course is slated for this fall.