Quebec’s Criminal Students

Last night, a video was brought to my attention that shows a Concordia University classroom taken over by students on “strike.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eVJjs-0d9w (And this is not the only one!)

(“Strike” is in quotations because student associations, as the corporations that they are, do not have that legal right, but that’s a topic for another day.)

This is a clear case of people substituting their view of what is right for the view of others. Some students believe that the proposed tuition hikes in Quebec (that will become law in just a few days) merit going on “strike” and not going to the classes that they paid for. They believe that it is smarter, wiser, and more mature to skip these classes, thereby not getting credit for them, and then taking them again in a future year where the cost for the same class will be higher. If this doesn’t make sense to you, you’re not alone. This completely illogical, childish decision is reason enough that this juveniles should get their asses back to class and get their learn on.

That I disagree with the strike action, despite my logical backing, does not make me right. Students have the right to not attend their own classes, even if they paid for them, if that is their wish. However, as a great quote rightly notes, “one person’s freedom ends where another person’s freedom begins.” These students do not have the right to prevent others from going to class, learning, and getting value for what they paid for.

So, what should be done about instances like the one shown in the video? Well, these kids (a term I believe appropriate given their behaviour) believe that it’s okay to shock and be loud to make a statement. I think we should shock them, loudly, to make a statement of our own. I propose that the police be called in to arrest each person who participates in preventing a fellow student from learning in a classroom. Arrest them, you ask? What law did they break?

A simple reading of the Criminal Code of Canada shows a clear violation of the theft statute. Have a read:

322. (1) Every one commits theft who fraudulently and without colour of right takes, […] anything, whether animate or inanimate, with intent

(a) to deprive, temporarily or absolutely, the owner of it, or a person who has a special property or interest in it, of the thing or of his property or interest in it;

By barging into a classroom in session and preventing fellow students from participating in classes they paid for, not only are these demonstrators guilty of extreme selfishness and horribly bad judgement, the above statute clearly shows that they are guilty of theft, as they are depriving, even temporarily, the owner of the right to an education of their interest in that education.

So come on, Montreal Police and Crown Prosecutors, you have arrested people on crazy, creative charges in the past, the difference this time is that the law actually supports you here. So use the clear video evidence, identify the education-thieving perpetrators and arrest them immediately so that the smarter, more mature students can get what they paid for and what we as society need them to have, an education.

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17 Comments

  1. So what happens if a professor cancels a class due to illness. Should the professor be arrested since he/she is technically “stealing” from his students’ ability to learn for a class they already paid for?

    • Seeing that I have multiple spelling errors in my previous post, I will repost with corrections.

      I was not being serious about arresting teachers. Of course a sick teacher has a legitimate reason to cancel class. But it can also* be argued that the protestors, whether you agree with them or not, also have legitimate reasons.

      What I was trying to convey is that by taking the law so literally, you can basically arrest anyone without legitimate cause of action.

      Imagine how costly it will be*, in terms of time and money for the police to investigate these videos, tract down the “criminal” students and arrest them. Those resources could be better spent to arrest real criminals.

      • Nick, I wish you would have started with a sensible argument like this one, because then the conversation would have looked quite different. Now, I don’t know what to believe. First you call for the arrest of teachers who call in sick, then when pressed, you maintain your position saying that it is comparable to my argument and now you say you were not serious? What are we to believe?

        My comments about arresting the students who disrupt class is a comment that reflects the frustration I have with society’s progress or lack thereof. We are so politically correct and careful that, while we are busy looking out for people’s rights, many of those people care only about trampling on the rights of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens who just want to live (and learn) in peace.

        We need police and law action that happens in real time. Action like the tickets on the bridge yesterday. The fact that students ran like hell when they found out they were being ticketed is proof that immediate, real time action will have an effect. We must uphold the laws. I do not see a problem with “taking the law so literally.” That’s what it’s there for. The most ironic part is that students who ran told the media that they were right to block the bridge. If they were so sure they were in the right, why run?

        And yes, it would be costly to investigate these videos. But that cost is one the society bears to show people that there are consequences to their actions. I submit that the common view of letting this type of thing go unpunished because of x or y reason is why this type of action is so common these days.

        Any time you’re willing to make a comment to advance the conversation, Nick (and everyone), I welcome it, even if we don’t agree.

  2. You sir, are completely out of your mind. Prosecuting people for stealing class time? Why not sue people who make you wait in line for concerts? Better yet, sue the STM everytime your bus is late. You want people found and arrested for minor reasons? Why not send them to Guantanamo Bay, that will teach them. I was against the strike but it’s people like you, who generalize, categorize strikers as hippies and act like you’re a kid and someone just stole your lollipop by preventing you to go to class that make me proud to be on strike.

    • John, I fail to see how waiting in line or late STM buses are “fraudulent”, “intentional” thefts, as the law clearly describes and as I have clearly explained. How would you feel if you paid for a concert ticket and security personnel stood idly by as protesters came in and disrupted the concert? No refunds and, when you wanted to see the concert again, the price had gone up! Misrepresenting someone’s argument just so that you can ridicule it is called a straw man argument, and it’s a logical fallacy. Forgive the big words, but if you were in class last week you would have learned about them. And I love how you accuse me of acting like a kid. Which of us are throwing a tantrum because the government wants them to pay a fair share of their EDUCATION??? Yikes. Projecting, much?

      • Sure, try to accuse someone of theft because they are blocking your class. That will work, you might even put them in jail for a few years. Are you a law student? You appear to be, since you are such an expert on the matter. Next time people are blocking your class, just call the cops and tell them about this “theft”. I’m sure they will be all ears. Btw who pays for your studies? Is it you or your parents? And is this your last year? It’s easy to talk about fair share when you will not be exposed to the full increase.

    • Thank you for this insightful comment, Jon. I’m sure my readers will appreciate a view that is as intelligently justified and clearly explained as yours. You definitely don’t need to be in class, as you’re smarter than everyone and will obviously be a huge success in life. Speaking of shortsighted, how is it worth blocking bridges, disrupting classes, and pitting yourself against fellow students for $325 a year? If you had any long term thinking capabilities, you’d know that that is a drop in the bucket for what you should make with your higher education that you value so much. Can you also explain how you can justify not going to class this year when it’s cheaper only to make up the class in a year with increased tuition? Or how you can walk out of a class that is already too expensive, according to your arguments. I wonder if you can explain to Quebecers why they should invest in your education when you clearly don’t.

  3. Yes I do think it’s a comparable situation. The teacher has a legitimate reason for canceling class. But so do the student protestors for reasons that have been stated thousands of times over, in which, I will not waste my time explaining to arrogant people who think the solution is to arrest everybody.

    “Also, let us remember that as with the Sir George Williams Computer riot, civil disobedience in violation of university regulation has helped make Concordia University a more accountable and accessible institution. Likening their actions to [theft] is an irresponsible and baseless accusation.”

    You state: “extreme selfishness and horribly bad judgement…”
    I can argue the same for you. You are selfish for attending classes while not giving two sh*ts about the future of Quebec’s eduction and accessibility to low income individuals.

    • Nick, just to be clear, the solution I am proposing is NOT to “arrest everybody.” It is to arrest those who prevent others from getting what they rightfully pay for. You can strike if you like, but you do not have the right to disrupt others’ learning. You do not have the right to block bridges. You are not the center of the universe, and your opinion does not matter more than everybody else’s. Sorry to burst your bubble. (And it’s bizarre of you to make a personal comment about my “attending classes” – which I don’t do. I have graduated from the make believe world of university life and am a successful businessman who fears that people like you will have the responsibility of continuing the evolution of society; people who believe in entitlement over community and who completely ignore personal responsibility. Finally, stop pretending that this is about accessibility. Students can lower their debt load simply by drinking less and buying fewer expensive items. It’s about living within one’s means and working to expand them, not believing that society owes you something. On the bright side, though I completely disagree with your view, I thank you for sharing it (well, except for the namecalling).

  4. We should also arrest people that make a single spelling mistake because by forcing you to respond they deprive you of your precious time. I think we should arrest more people whenever possible, that way we will live in a nice little clean society. By the way have you ever read Nineteen Eighty-Four? I think you’ll like it quite a lot, it might give you some good ideas.

  5. “Finally, stop pretending that this is about accessibility. Students can lower their debt load simply by drinking less and buying fewer expensive items. It’s about living within one’s means and working to expand them, not believing that society owes you something.”

    I can only speak for myself but I am living within my means. I pay my own rent, food, my own tuition and books ect. I don’t have my parents to pay for these things. I also work countless hours and I don’t spend it on drinks, partying and expensive clothes. Of course, I can work more, but then that will effect my studies. Maybe you had it easy when you were in school, but thousands of students don’t. So I can understand how you may lack empathy for low-income individuals. Try to put yourself in other’s shoes.

    Also, you acknowledged that perhaps some students should live within their means, by adjusting their budgets. I do agree with you on that. However, if students can adjust their budgets why can’t the government adjust theirs? They are guilty of spending copious amounts of money on ridiculous matters but can’t come up with the funds for something as important as education? Anyways, this is not only besides the point but also off topic. What I’m saying is that maybe blocking students from entering class is not the best way to go about the strike but arresting them for doing so, I think, is ridiculous.

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