By Irene Papakonstantinou
If you get enjoyment out of paying more and more each year for tuition, take Wednesday off and catch up on the soaps.
But if tuition increases have you teed off at Mike Harris, RyeSAC is asking you to revolt Wednesday at noon at the corner of Gould and Victoria Streets.
“Students are concerned about tuition hikes,” says Gord Tanner, v.p. education .” We have to show we do have a voice and we have power.”
Tomorrow’s Student Day of Action rally is part of a nationwide protest against rising tuition fees, organized by the Canadian Federation of Students.
Student anger in Ontario is fueled by provincial Finance Minister Ernie Eves’ decision to allow universities to increase their tuition by 20 per cent over the next two years. In his Dec. 15 announcement, he also allowed the deregulation of professional and graduate programs.
“Universities are becoming inaccessible,” said Wayne Poirier, CFS Ontario chair. “We need an immediate tuition freeze, a national system of grants, and an end to ICLRPs.”
The provincial government is looking into implementing ICLRPs or Income contingent Loan Repayment Programs. These funding mechanisms require students pay back their loans as a percentage of their income after graduation , for a 20 to 25 year payback period.
Ryerson’s rally will have representatives from CFS, RyeSAC and CUPE, as well as the band The Flamejobs and performances by Ryerson theatre students.
Students will march to King and Bay Streets, and meet with students from York University, the University of Toronto, and high schools for a rally at 2 p.m.
“We want to hit the financial district of Ontario, and Canada, so that the banks will listen up,” said Tanner.
“King and Bay represents the power behind Queen’s Park, so we’re going there to highlight the direct role that banks are playing in making a profit on student loans.”
Students are centering on the financial district, “Instead of going to Queen’s Park and standing on an empty lawn and staring at a building where nobody listens to what you have to stay,” Tanner said.
Linda Grayson, Ryerson v.p. Administration, called the RyeSAC office and asked if students were going to be targeting Claude Lajeunesse’s office during the protest.
Last spring, students stormed the president’s office after a day of protesting tuition hikes. Security and Metro police were called in to control the crowd.
Tanner said he hasn’t heard of any students planning a sit-in this year.
“I think (Grayson’s call) was just a ploy to find out what we were up to.”
Ryerson v.p. Academic Dennis Mock wrote a letter to all faculties asking there be no academic penalties for students who miss class to attend the protest.