By Shannon Higgins
On Monday members of the Ryerson Students Union slept outside Kerr Hall for a “freeze for fees” campout to rally support for the February 7th National Day of Action. I joined them.
RSU executives Muhammad Ali Jabbar, Nora Loreto and Chris Drew, along with academic council director Rebecca Rose and education coalition member Toby Whitfield slept on a flowerbed across from Lake Devo.
Students walking out of the library were met by bundled up people, huddling around a barrel of fire and shouting chants, in weather that felt like -22. Most chuckled at us, muttering something about hippies, while some were genuinely concerned for our health.
The campout is a final push from the RSU to boost attendance at the National Day of Action, a nation-wide protest run by the Canadian Federation of Students in the hopes of freezing and reducing tuition fees.
The night began after a few somewhat pathetic attempts at pitching tents and gathering wood. Thankfully, Ryerson security was nice enough to point out several wooden skids.
We discovered that spare campus papers could be used effectively as kindling, and soon our barrel was full of warm fire.
“Mmm, tastes like the sports section,” said Loreto as she toasted a wiener. A steady diet of veggie dogs, sausages, marshmallows and fresh chocolate cookies kept the group going — along with the odd passerby.
Isaac Elfaks, second year information technology management student, hung around the fire with us for a few hours.
The Moore’s employee said that his job has taken top priority. “There are so many friends I have to cut out — thank God for facebook.”
Elfaks blames his student debt for reducing him to such an impersonal form of communication. Noorez Rhemtulla, first-year radio and television arts, lit his cigarette on our barrel.
“I think our voice does speak loud but they are turning their ears,” he said. “I’m starving right now and I have no money to buy food.”
Visits like this helped boost the campers spirits before the six of us squeezed into the tent. “I never thought I’d sleep with the Eyeopener,” mused Chris Drew.