In a second referendum held last February 4, a large majority of uOttawa students finally voted in favor of the authority of general assemblies on the campus. This time, the quorum was easily met; the General Assembly officially became the supreme decision-making body of the Student Federation.
The proposal to support general assemblies was first introduced last Fall by the Marxist Students’ Association (now the Revolutionary Student Movement at uOttawa) and was inspired by the experience of the Québec student movement, which has repeatedly demonstrated the usefulness of this type of organization to foster the emergence of a combative and working-class oriented movement. General assemblies allow rank and file students to better control the decision-making process, instead of leaving all the power in the hands of a handful of student officers and bureaucrats.
After the launch of a petition whose number of signatories forced the holding of a referendum, the first ballot was held in late November. A majority of voters then supported the proposal, but the turnout was insufficient for the decision to be considered valid. This time, however, the quorum was largely met. University of Ottawa has now become one of the few campus in Ontario where the student union is subject to the authority of the General Assembly.
According to the Revolutionary Student Movement (RSM), the holding of general assemblies should foster the building of a new student movement that will go beyond the limits of current student politics: “One of the challenges of the present period is precisely for students to take into their own hands the ideological, political, practical struggles which would enable the emergence of a revolutionary political and proletarian orientation among the students.” The RSM comrades will therefore seize this new opportunity to bring forward a proletarian standpoint on any issues facing the students.