The Revolutionary Student Movement at the University of Winnipeg is currently occupying the office of the president of University of Manitoba, David Barnard. They have taken the space as an act of protest against tuition hikes, including the 6.6% increase scheduled for the fall, the university’s complicity with healthcare cuts to international students, and as an act of solidarity with actions at York University where students have reclaimed senate chambers and CUPE3903 workers are on strike. In solidarity with their movement, we post below the statement they have released regarding their ongoing occupation.
Statement from Revolutionary Student Movement-UWinnipeg in support of #ReclaimYorkU and solidarity occupations across the country:
The last few years have seen an uptick in the intensity of the ongoing ravaging of public education by university administrations and provincial governments, acting on behalf of the whole bourgeoisie. After cooking up the lie that deficits are a scourge on the economy that must be swiftly eliminated, Canadian corporate interests have worked in tandem with the media and political interests in all major parties to use deficit elimination as a wrecking ball with which to demolish the public services working-class Canadian residents rely on.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, universities have seen millions of dollars cut from their budgets for years in a row. Last year, Nova Scotian institutions increased twice as much as the national average. Students in New Brunswick are facing 7% tuition hikes this year, in Saskatchewan, 5%. Last week, students at the University of Alberta stormed their President’s office to protest a simultaneous 4% budget cut and increases of student fees specifically targeted at international students and working class students living on campus, groups who are singled out for relentless exploitation by university administrations.
As many of you know, here in Manitoba, we are not faring any better. We not only face tuition hikes of up to 6.5% at institutions across the province, but have also seen tax measures to support students rolled back, increasing privatization of student aid and operating grant increases slowing to a trickle and finally being cut back for the first time in years. All of this comes on the heels of years of consecutive budget cuts at the U of M, which have been fiercely opposed by the faculty union and the Revolutionary Student Movement’s U of M chapter.
Perhaps most outrageously, International Students in Manitoba are being cut off from Manitoba’s public health insurance. This not only cements the dehumanizing idea that these students are second-class members of our community, not deserving of the same rights and opportunities of their domestic student peers, but it also represents an attack on public healthcare itself, laying the ideological groundwork for future erosion and eventual destruction of the public system, the ultimate goal of Pallister and his corporate allies.
It is within this national climate of reaction and austerity that the bad-faith negotiation and undermining of students and faculty at York has occurred. The conduct of York administration towards the members of CUPE 3903 has been absolutely unacceptable, anti-democratic and in some instances questionably legal. We stand in unwavering solidarity with our comrades at RSM York and commend them on the incredible success of the reclamation of the Senate chambers they have successfully maintained.
It is for all these reasons, and for the sake of all working-class students in this country, that Winnipeg chapters of the RSM have joined in solidarity occupations occurring across the country today. Organizers from our chapter and UManitoba Student Action Network – Revolutionary Student Movement have occupied the office of David Barnard, President of the University of Manitoba, and will hold the occupation for the duration of today, regardless of any attempted repression by unaccountable private campus security forces. Visit the UMSAN Facebook page for updates on the occupation and to find out how they can be supported.
Red salute to all comrades across the country fighting to defend the interests of working-class students, faculty and staff on campus!