The state of student engagement in activism has been sorely lacking recently, at least in my opinion. Call it blowback from the city's SLAAP suit on the Hanlon Creek protestors, call it apathy, or call it a student population too busy with the reality of being a busy student, but I thought that maybe the protests in Quebec last spring might have roused the sleeping giant in Ontario.
Better late than never, I suppose.
Below, please find a press release regarding a protest led by the Guelph Student Mobilization Committe, who will demonstrate tomorrow about the rising cost of tuition and accessible education in Ontario. Considering that the rate increases being fought in Quebec would see them pay roughly the same amount Ontario students paid 15 years ago, it's honestly a wonder why students weren't out in the street sooner.
Here's the press release:
STUDENTS TO RALLY FOR ACCESSIBLE EDUCATION
University of Guelph Students Rally Against Sky-Rocketing Tuition Fee Increases and the Provincial Prorogue
On Thursday, November 1st, the Guelph Student Mobilization Committee is coordinating a rally to expand access to post-secondary education. This event is designed to tell the provincial government that despite it’s recent anti-democratic prorogue, action is needed to alleviate student debt and expand accessibility in order to protect quality, affordable, public education.
Who: The Guelph Student Mobilization Committee (GSMC) – a coalition made up of University of Guelph students, workers and community members. This organization was formed in the spring of 2012 with and carried out solidarity work with the Quebec student strike. It has now become an active group on campus working to mobilize towards free, accessible, quality, public post-secondary education.
What: Guelph students will assemble on campus to hear speeches and walk to Liberal MPP Liz Sandals office to unveil their “access denied wall” representing the barriers preventing potential students from attending post-secondary education.
Where: Branion Plaza (the cannon), University of Guelph campus
When: 4:30pm - Thursday, November 1st, 2012
Why: Despite what we are told, high tuition fees and heavy debt loads do affect the accessibility of post-secondary education in a crucial way. Namely, they create barriers to education for low income and marginalized students. The promise of an educational system that could provide equal access and opportunities to anyone eager to learn has been trashed by years of government policy that push a high-fees and high-debt system for post-secondary education. Rather than encouraging access to education, these policies have actually reinforced economic inequality and systemic discrimination within society.
The average undergraduate student in Ontario graduates more than thirty-five thousand dollars in debt. The Ontario government last year implemented its “30% Tuition Grant”, which was sold during the election as a 30% reduction in tuition to students whose parents earn less than one hundred and sixty thousand dollars. In fact, this grant leaves out more than two-thirds of students in Ontario, including part-time students, graduate students, international students, students not who are not dependant on their parents, and many more.
The Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities has been circulating discussion papers that are designed to cut funding to post-secondary education further. Proposals include large increases in online education, three year-degrees, and more privatization and corporatization. The plan is to drastically reshape our colleges and universities and decrease quality.
Under Dalton McGuinty, tuition fees were raised up to 71% in 7 years. But his anti-democratic proroguing and resignation is nothing to celebrate. The next provincial election is around the corner and students are mobilizing now to demand accessible education in Ontario.
GSMC article on equality and tuition fees: http://guelphstudents.org/2012/09/14/fight-for-equality-down-with-tuition-fees/
About the GSMC: http://guelphstudents.org/about/