This story is over 5 years old.


UQAM Won’t Extend Semester Despite the Student Protests That Have Disrupted Classes

Tensions have been mounting at the university, where some students have been on strike since March against the Liberal government's austerity measures.

Students occupying UQAM despite a court injunction. Photo by Keith Race

The Université du Québec à Montréal's (UQAM) board of directors decided not to prolong the winter semester after a series of protests and extended injunctions against students blocking classes.

Tensions have been mounting at the university, where some students have been on strike since March against the Liberal government's austerity measures.

The board of directors at UQAM decided on Thursday night not to amend the semester in spite of a recommendation from the university's senate to extend the semester until June 19.


"The 2014-2015 university calendar is therefore unchanged. The winter semester will finish May 3 and the summer semester will begin May 4," said vice-rector Diane Demers in an email to students.

The board asked that the senate find a solution so that students who have been affected by the strike can still complete their studies by May 3—even if they have not been in school for over a month.

"A very large majority of students at UQAM are not affected by or are no longer affected by the strikes," wrote Demers.

The decision comes after two volatile weeks at UQAM, including a protest on Wednesday that quickly devolved. Protesters, dressed head-to-toe in black, forced the cancellation of a French class at the J.-A. DeSève pavilion. Students were there to complete their final exam of the semester when demonstrators disrupted the class.

Marc-Antoine St-Yves is a business student who was forced out of the class. He needs the exam to complete his undergraduate degree at UQAM.

"If I do a master's degree then I will never do it at UQAM," said St-Yves. "We respect them and we're penalized."

St-Yves' faculty is not on strike but the class is a cross-faculty course.

"We voted not to have a strike while others voted to have a strike so they can go outside on the streets," said St-Yves. "Leave the person who wants to study alone."

Earlier this week, a Quebec Superior Court judge granted an extension of the injunction against five student faculty associations to prevent protesters from blocking, disrupting or forcing the cancellation of classes on campus until June 21.


The extension followed a particularly tense few days at UQAM where police were involved in a pair of protests and arrested more than 20 people. Police intervention on campus has led to both calls for rector Robert Proulx's dismissal and support for the decision.

The head of UQAM's board of directors called for inclusive dialogue and support for Proulx in an open letter this week.

"While they may be unpleasant, the disciplinary procedures, the injunction that was asked for and obtained, do not only conform to the law but they are courageous," wrote Lise Bissonnette.

Bissonnette also criticized the attack on freedom of thought, writing that the expression of various opposing beliefs should never be hindered, especially at a university campus.

Follow Kalina Laframboise on Twitter.