November 10, 2011 5:31 am

Students block Dawson College entranceway in province-wide strike

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MONTREAL – Dawson College students blocked the entranceway into their school from the Atwater métro station Thursday morning to kick off a one-day provincewide protest by CEGEP and university students against rising tuition fees

Other entries to the college remained open.

Thousands of students are expected to gather downtown on Thursday afternoon for a protest march through the streets of Montreal.

More than 165,000 students have already voted to support the boycott, which aims to send a strong message to Liberal Premier Jean Charest that his plan to increase tuition fees is unacceptable to students.

The students are to meet at 2 p.m. at Berri and Ste. Catherine Sts. They will then make their way to Charest’s office and plan to end with a rally at McGill College and Sherbrooke Sts. Motorists are warned that the throngs of students lining the streets will probably interfere with the traffic

“We are expecting thousands of people to send a clear message that a tuition increase is unacceptable,” said Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, a spokesperson for the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante.

Students are upset about Quebec’s decision to raise tuition by $325 a year for the next five years, bringing fees to $3,793 in 2017 from $2,168 now.

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Most universities and colleges say they will try to proceed with classes, but that will be a challenge given that some teachers support the movement against hikes.

The Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association has called on its 1,200 members to join the students if they can and to be tolerant of those who miss classes or are late in submitting assignments.

However, they are not cancelling classes, said spokesperson David Douglas.

Concordia media relations director Chris Mota said students should not expect academic amnesty, although the provost has encouraged faculty to exercise leniency that day.

McGill University said it will be business as usual, and Dawson College posted a notice on its website saying although students have voted to support the boycott, they cannot block access to the school and the college expects to operate normally that day.

“Thousands of students have strike mandates and many more will skip classes to join in,” said Lex Gill, president of the Concordia University Student Union.

“The next generation is headed into a debt bomb,” said Douglas. “We could soon be a society where only the upper middle class can go to university.”

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