Madison Raye and Galvin Zaldivar, News Reporters
Students province-wide collectively left class to show the Ford Government they’re serious about opposing the changes to the OSAP program.
Ontario students left class on March 13 to emphasize to Ford the changes to the OSAP will not be accepted.
The walk outs consisted of students gathering in large groups with their school and walking among the campus area chanting and protesting the changes that were announced January.
A total of 19 colleges and universities agreed to take part in the walk out. Humber College was not one of them.
Many feel threatened and unappreciated by the government and are stressing about their next moves regarding their education.
The University of Toronto, St George campus, participated in the walkout. Many students spoke and gave speeches about how the changes are and will affect them. Many chanted while walking the streets downtown, making their concerns known.
The walkout was organized by the Canadian Federation of Students Ontario (CFSON) and Noor Alideeb who has been present since the very beginning of the protests towards the changes.
Alideeb started the group off with chanting, “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Tuition Fees Have Got To Go.” Protesters held their signs while shouting their chants awaiting for the action to take affect.
“Education to me is something that is so freaking important,
because here in Canada we have the ability to make education free,” said Alideeb, sharing her thoughts among the students of U of T.
She said she believes that the 10 per cent cut in tuition fees is a step in the right direction but feels it isn’t enough. She feels attacked by the Ontario government and refuses to let the impact of debt become much more.
“Faculty are impacted by this. Our TAs are impacted by this. Staff are
impacted by this, and an attack on one of us, is an attack on all of us, and we are not going to stand for it,” Alideeb said.
“The Student Choice Initiative is effectively trying to eliminate every student group that actually advocates for student issues,” she said. “Who actually advocates for the mental wellbeing of students? Who actually advocated for sexual violence and harassment supports here at U of T? Who has pushed forward free education?
It’s been us,” Alideeb said, adding students won’t stop until they win.
Simran Duhnna, a U of T student, spoke and lead the majority of the walkout at St. George. Duhnna lead the group from Sydney Smith Hall, where opening speeches where made, to Simcoe Hall where the rest of the chanting and protesting took place and finished.
Standing outside of Simcoe hall, Duhnna shared her frustration of U of T’s funding.
“There is an abundance of money here, and as I was saying earlier, William Moriarty, the CEO of UFT’s asset management fund, earns over $1 million per year,” Duhnna said.
She and the other students U of T are frustrated and disappointed with the way the school is handling the changes to the OSAP program and feel it is difficult to turn to their school for help even during a time where mental health and sexual violence are becoming a crisis.
“Just in 2006, international students contributed to seven per cent of UFT’s additional funding and today, it’s reaching up to 40 per cent,” Duhnna said.
“While they’re in there we need them to know, we need to send them and the Ford government a strong message that we are the students, we are the people, we are the future and we also want them to know that we don’t want a private institution,” Duhnna said.
“We don’t want our funding, our universities to be funded by tuition fees at all. What we want is a public free education,” she said.
The NDP’s Chris Glover attended the St. George walkout and shared an announcement with the group.
“Next Thursday, the NDP will make a Private Member’s Bill asking the government to convert all student loans to grants and to eliminate interest on student debt,” he said.
CFSON is asking students to support the NDP bill by gathering outside of Queens Park on Thursday.