Occupy Queen's movement in the works

Students bring Occupy to campus, with demands surrounding government restructuring and tuition drops

Matt Shultz (centre) leads members of the Occupy Queen’s movement in a planning session yesterday.
Matt Shultz (centre) leads members of the Occupy Queen’s movement in a planning session yesterday.
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Occupy Kingston was evicted from their space in Confederation Park last month, but the movement is moving to Queen’s.

Last Thursday, Occupy Queen’s had its fourth general meeting in the Grey House on campus.

Matt Shultz, former Occupy Kingston participant, is now part of the Occupy Queen’s movement.

Shultz declined to comment on whether Occupy Queen’s protesters will physically occupy on-campus buildings.

Occupy Queen’s is aligning with the province-wide Drop Fees campaign, which strives to stimulate the change needed to make Ontario tuition fees more affordable.

The campaign has been a national movement in response to rising tuition fees across Canada.

Occupy Queen’s participants will take part in an on campus Drop Fees protest on Feb. 1 as part of the National Day of Action.

“[The campaign is] really an effort to kind of shame the university administration and provincial governments into really doing something about this,” he said.

Communicating with administration will be an important step, he said.

“There’s been some talk of trying to crash the meetings, but of course the administration’s meetings are not open unless they choose to let you in,” Shultz said.

“It’s not a democratic structure at all, it’s very closed-door, very secretive.”

A main point being addressed, he said, is the creation of a more democratic government structure at Queen’s.

“As it currently stands, the dean of Arts and Science, [Principal Daniel Woolf], the Board [of Trustees] – they kind of make these dictatorial decisions regarding university policy,” Shultz, PhD ’15, said.

“Even if the entire faculty is against them on that, they just kind of go ahead and do it.”

Shultz said decision-making power shouldn’t be in the hands of businessmen.

“Queen’s is a university. It’s not a business. It’s not meant to make money,” he said. “It’s meant to educate.”

In its current stages, the main goal of Occupy Queen’s is to spread awareness.

“We’re starting out really just trying to get that conversation started because it’s not something that anyone’s really thinking about or talking about right now,” Shultz said.

Another focal point of Occupy Queen’s is to challenge the 30 per cent tuition rebate, announced on Jan. 5 by the Liberal government.

Shultz said this tuition drop doesn’t apply to many students who need it.

“Students whose parents make too much money, they’re out. Mature students can’t access it. Graduate can’t access it.

Out-of-province students can’t access it. Out-of-country students can’t access it,” he said.

Shultz said he doubts the administration will directly address Occupy Queen’s.

“I really doubt that [administration] would be open to that, and I doubt that they would be open to any suggestions that we have,” he said. “They have absolute power. Why would they give that up? Why would they even start a conversation about ways they could give it up?”

Working with the AMS is a possibility if the Executive shows interest, he said.

“If the AMS feels that their own goals are compatible … of course we will [work with them],” he said. “But if they don’t want to, that’s obviously not going to stop us.”

Matt Thornton, a member of Occupy Kingston, told the Journal via email that the group has met with the City to discuss arranging for a currently unknown permanent location.

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