Protest season begins again

In Editorial /

By Lori Fazari

The colourful posters went up on the walls a year before the actual event, teasing students with the promise of something big.

The planning became feverish as the months rolled by, and soon Access 2000 was on the lips of every student activist.

The campaign, a year-and-a-half in the planning was a carefully orchestrated piece of work that ate up almost all the Canadian Federation of Students’ $2 million lobby budget.

The publicity machine was in full drive as members at schools across the country hyped their local protests against deregulation and pricy tuition fees.

Then the day finally arrived — Feb. 2, 2000 — and in the end, last winter’s day of action in Toronto went out with a whimper, not the bang of previous protests.

In February, 1998, students stormed the CIBC at King at Bay Streets and barricaded themselves in the bank overnight.

This year, some 2,000 students marched peacefully to Queens’ Park, then went to a concert at the Phoenix to see Maestro perform.

Maybe all the publicity jinxed the protest to its ho-hum climax.

By that theory, the lack of hype for this Friday’s CFS-organized protest might make for a rowdy turnout.

The student protest movement takes to the streets once again for the main events of the school year’s activist season.  The scene is the Metro Convention Centre on Front Street, where the provincial Conservative government will be holed up for the weekend hatching policies at their annual convention.

But this protest isn’t about high tuition fees or student debt loads, although in the end it all comes down to the accessibility of postsecondary education. This time, the protest slogans are being formed around the introduction of private universities in the province, an announcement made by the provincial government last April.

With so little lead time to rally the troops, you have to wonder if enough students are even aware of what’s going on this weekend.

The Ontario CFS branch picked its target in June, but the real planning doesn’t begin until students are back to class and waiting in line to pay their tuition fees.

So the lobby group has only had the past six weeks to tell students why they should care about skipping class on Friday to go to Ryerson’s rally and march down to the convention centre.

Judging by the apathy usually displayed by students here, the CFS has had its work cut out for it if this is going to be the marquee event of the school year.  Besides last Sunday’s World March of Women and events planned around the federal election campaign, the CFS simply plans to support locals at each university in their own campaigns throughout next semester.

That makes this Friday Ryerson students’ one shot at a decent protest.  Maybe since all the hype has been neglected in the planning of it, we’ll see some real action on the day.

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