Agitate (and have fun too)

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By Douglas Cudmore

It’s been one of those weeks when everybody is pissing me off. OSAP is continuing to bleed me dry. The stream of rejection letters from potential employers is starting to seep into my mailbox. And, even with the results of Tuesday’s megacity referendum showing an anti-Conservative landslide, it’s obvious that Toronto will soon amalgamate. So, in the spirit of the noble Serb students, who this week marked their 100th day of protest against harsh dictatorship, I offer my spoiled North American student guide to protesting against things that bother me.

1.Write rejection letters to prospective employers. People who are looking for meaningful summer employment or, even worse, are foolish enough to graduate without a master’s program in mind, will start facing reality right about now — there are no jobs.

Now I know that everybody’s heard a lot of things about selling yourself, the brave new employment world, home officing and contract work, but one fact remains — there are no jobs.

And for those of you who are stubborn enough to cling to optimism, your world will soon be crushed by an influx of insipidly worded letters from downsize survivors living in the human resource bunkers. Through the purple prose they will tell you one thing — there are no jobs.

But don’t give the gainfully employed all the fun. Show the initiative of a true worker and send off your own letter to prospective companies.

Most business you apply to won’t bother giving you an interview, but many will send you a letter informing you that they are not hiring (non-relatives) right now. So send them a letter stating that, “Although your business certainly appears qualified, I am unfortunately in a working freeze right now. I will be collecting welfare for the coming months, but will keep you on file.”

Some companies will grant you an interview, but don’t be fooled into thinking this gets you any closer to the workforce. Instead of waiting for that phone call, sit down and write them: “It was a pleasure to talk to you, but unfortunately I have decided not to come to your business. Please remember that I’ve sent resumes off to at least 500 companies, and you should feel honoured just to interview me. Good luck in your chosen career of keeping the shareholders happy.”

2.Sop up the student loans, then declare bankruptcy. Over 7,000 graduates can’t be wrong. That’s how many recent students went belly-up last year. So why not do it yourself?

Several major banks offer student loans above and beyond OSAP. So you can cash in, live like your parents did when they first left high school and then go broke right after you leave school.

Canadian banks won’t suffer that much. Apparently, they can handle Edwards Books going belly up and Eaton’s filing for protection. If every full-time Ryerson student took out $20,000 in loans (according to an Eyeopener survey, almost 20 per cent of us have already) and then don’t pay it back, that’s a loss of $260,000,000. Taking bank profits into account, that’s not much.

Think of it this way. If you’re paying off your loan, you’ll be doing it for the next 10 years, meaning you’ll push off major car loans and mortgages at least that long. If you declare bankruptcy, you’re credit is blown for just six years. So don’t pay off your loans and buy yourself four years.

  1. Simply decide that the Progressive Conservatives aren’t in politics anymore. Monday’s referendum on the megacity had a giant turn-out and it was a landslide for the No forces — 75.6 per cent of voters said they don’t want Toronto to amalgamate.

But protests don’t seem to phase the Harris government. They have ignored protests before and I’d put money down that they’ll do it again.

So, if the PCs decide to pass on democracy and dump our elected mayors and alderfolk, then we should pay the same game. Keep going for surgery at closed-down hospitals (or even perform surgery there, if you like). When an officer tells you to stop driving 216 kilometres per hour down the 401, respond with a simple no. Take a bunch of friends to the Queen’s Park lawn and declare yourselves the government. And you can be speaker of the house — when security tries to move you off, shout “You’re out of order.”

Don’t believe democracy can be dumped that easily? Give it a try. Some people already have.

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