While Americans have over a trillion dollars in college debt and 50 percent of recent graduates can’t get jobs, Quebec students are demanding the right to get to the dole office a lot cheaper. They’re currently striking, and rioting, violently, to protest a proposed tuition increase of $1,625. Spread out over seven years. Or about 232 bucks per annum. Or about the cost of one fair-trade macchiato a week. Nevertheless, they’re not gonna swallow it:
Students in Quebec are like no others, we’re told. We need to understand that tuition fees are not the real issue. The real issue is social justice. The real issue is the promise made during the Quiet Revolution that universities would eventually be free. The real issue is the fight against the ruling class, the greedy corporations, the tar sands, and the entire capitalist, neo-liberal elite. Of course, since universities actually do cost money, somebody will have to pay. Who? The greedy corporations!
The most militant protest group, the CLASSE (whose handsome spokesperson, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, has become a celebrity on French TV), has lots of other ideas about social justice. It wants a boycott of Israel’s “apartheid regime.” It wants courses, lesson plans and reading lists to be “feminized.” It wants an end to free trade. You get the idea.
According to Pierre Martin, a political science professor at the University of Montreal, Quebec’s students dwell in a world of their own. They neither know nor care what’s happening in the rest of Canada. “The Quebec education system is a distinct system in the sense that very few students would contemplate the option of going elsewhere,” he said on As It Happens. “The system is very self-contained.” Now I get it: The kids are on another planet.
Whoever writes the epitaph of Western civilization will marvel at the thoroughness with which higher education led to mass delusion — indeed, mass moronization.