CÉGEP St-Laurent student protest over
Administration suspends activities for the day after student block access to school
About 200 students at a Montreal junior college blocked entrances to the building Friday, prompting the administration to cancel classes for the day.
Police were called in to the CÉGEP St-Laurent Friday morning, but there were no incidents.
It was just one more flashpoint in the battle over Quebec's planned tuition hikes, pitting the provincial government against student groups.
Ève-Claudel Valade, a CÉGEP St-Laurent student, said she and others were "locked out" by the administration on Thursday night, when students started picketing the building.
"They refused to give us any negotiations . . . and they refused to communicate with us," she said. "They said they did, but really hard to communicate with someone inside the CEGEP if you're locked out."
The administration wanted the students to sign a contract outlining the negotiation guidelines before talks started, she said.
The students refused to sign it because they wanted more representation than the administration proposed.
Tensions at the school eventually ramped down when the group of students was allowed to meet with college representatives to discuss their concerns.
The students voted in favour of joining the tens of thousands of others declaring themselves on strike, and they began their pressure tactics Thursday.
An estimated 60,000 students across the province are on "general strike" in opposition of proposed increases to tuition fees.
Tuition protests multiply
Amid the clash over tuition fees, there have been large, peaceful protests but also run-ins with police and the temporary shutdown of a Montreal bridge earlier this week.
On Thursday, thousands of students marched through downtown Montreal, demanding a stop to the tuition fee hike.
While that march was peaceful, the police riot squad was deployed to remove a smaller group of students who proceeded to block the entrance to the Jacques-Cartier Bridge at rush hour.
Three people were pepper sprayed and one was charged with obstruction of justice.
The proposed increase would see tuition rise by $1,625 over the next five years, equivalent to a $325 annual increase.
The government has defended the proposal, saying that even with the increase, Quebec students would be paying some of the lowest tuition fees in the country.
A non-confidence motion filed earlier this week over the tuition hike issue will be debated in the national assembly.
Students say they intend to take their protest to the provincial capital next week.
Student protesters call it a question of principle and argue that the hikes will deter some people from pursuing their education.
With files from the Canadian Press