SSMU stands with and in support of the Social Work Student Association (SWSA) decision to join over 55,000 Quebec students striking against unpaid internships this week. The Comités unitaires sur le travail étudiant (CUTE)’s Campagne sur le travail étudiant is grounded in principles of dignity and equity and cuts to the very heart of an unjust system that has students—the majority of whom are femme-identifying—pay for degrees that require them to work for free. Teachers, nurses, social workers, and others engaging in internships in professions of care should not be denied protection under the Loi sur les normes du travail. They should be paid for their work.
Through this campaign, the CUTE has produced a number of resources (in French) and SWSA has been holding a week full of programming and events that force us to stop and reckon with questions of power imbalances and injustices and to consider the layers and dynamics of oppression that have helped sustain this system for so long.
SSMU recognizes and appreciates the teachers and professors in the School of Social Work that decided to stand with their students on this clear and fundamental question and, at the same time, is disappointed in the University’s decision to ignore and disrespect these professors expression of support.
Finally, it is important for us to recognize and apologize for the delay in this statement. Social Work students voted in favour of a strike on October 24th. Since then, the Arts Undergraduate Society voted to stand in solidarity with SWSA’s strike on November 14th, and the Medical Students’ Society voted to stand in support of the CUTE Campaign on November 18th. The Daily released its statement of support on November 16th, and The Tribune issued its editorial on November 20th. SSMU has a policy against unpaid internships and a responsibility to have acted sooner. Moving forward, we will be reaching out– through our campaigns coordinators– to members of SWSA, other McGill faculty associations, and other Quebec student unions in order to ensure that SSMU better represents its mission, members, and mandate.
SSMU Executive Team
Sophia Esterle, Vice-President (Student Life)
Jacob Shapiro, Vice-President (University Affairs)
Matthew McLaughlin, Vice-President (Internal Affairs)
Jun Wang, (Finance)
Tre Mansdoerfer, President