Answers don’t lie in march

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By Amit Shilton

Do you support global warming? Big fan of mass genocide? All for drowning kittens?

No, of course not. Nobody is.

Asking students if they’re in favour of higher tuition fees is just as ridiculous a question. No student, no matter what socioeconomic background they come from, wants to pay more for their education.

With the Reaching Higher plan coming to an end, Ontario universities really have no clue what tuition will look like next year. It’s a frightening thought.

That’s why this year the RSU has been planning what will surely be the most aggressive Drop Fees campaign yet. The union executives and their loyal minions have been spraypainting banners and flags overnight in the Student Campus Centre for several weeks.

All this is in preparation for Poverty Free Ontario Day of Action on Nov. 5, when thousands of students from universities across Toronto will march to Queen’s Park and protest the rising cost of our education. It’s a worthwhile and important cause, but one that obscures more than it educates.

The truth is most students who join the march don’t really understand the issue. They don’t know what the Reaching Higher plan is or the politics behind coming up with a figure for tuition. Most just want to save some cash and let out some angst. And hey, who can blame them?

Tuition fees are not a simple concept. It can be really confusing. Unlike the Close Gould Street campaign, it’s not physical. There’s nothing students can see every day on their walk to school or notice when changes are being made before their eyes.

And to be completely honest, after four years at this school and two years working as a news editor, I don’t understand the issue inside-out either. Is marching up to Queen’s Park every year really going to prove a point? Should the government give a damn about students if a number of them either can’t vote or just don’t? Will other people, who do vote, care about our issues if we march? Is it really the provincial government we should be harassing or should we be bugging the feds instead?

If the RSU really wants students to become more engaged members of this community, I think there needs to be either far more education done on the topic or a new game plan for getting shit done. It’s really tough to come up with a solution and to be fair, and I don’t have any of the answers either. But I don’t think the answer lies in using grabby words like “province-wide poverty” or a having silly mock demonstration that comes off as an inside joke between people in the know rather than a strong attempt to educate the masses.

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