By Carolyn Turgeon
Associate News Editor
Rob Ford’s first year in office has been a controversial one in the news: his Pride Parade snub, the 911 call in which Ford allegedly swore at dispatchers and his brother’s face off with Margaret Atwood.
“I can’t say I’ve seen Rob Ford do anything for students or anything for Toronto,” said Eric Scura, a third year business management student.
Ford has been very vocal in his intent to shut down library branches, his determination to eliminate the Yonge-Dundas scramble and his planned privatization of childcare and housing, all of which will negatively affect the student population.
“The mayor does not always have a clear understanding of what it means to be a young person living downtown,” said Ward 27 councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.
Scura said that “two of Toronto’s universities are downtown and we just kind of get [ignored], Maybe York would have a different opinion.”
Wong-Tam explained that Ford doesn’t take into account the student struggle to balance school with work.
“With a full time job often [they] are living below poverty level,” she said. “The mayor has never once spoken to students.”
Many students simply haven’t seen any difference since he came into office.
“He could help out a bit with everything. Nothing has really changed,” said Moe Mourad, a third year mechanical engineering student.
Santina Macri, a master’s student in public policy and administration, doesn’t know if anything has been done for the student population on a municipal level, but thinks Ford has changed perspectives.
“He’s shown people how much they enjoy having services funded,” she said. “[Toronto is] a huge city and it costs a lot of money to pay for it.”
She concedes that there can be obvious improvements.
“They could make transportation a bit more affordable because a metro pass is still really expensive,” said Macri.
“Many students rely on public transit,” said Wong-Tam, pointing out the mayor’s move to remove bike lanes as well.
She encourages students to let Ford know what they need.
“They can write to him and explain in their own words why it’s important to them to have cycling infrastructure, affordable housing and libraries.”
She also believes the mayor should speak with students, and that it’s not too late to turn things around.
“There are councillors willing to work with the mayor,” said Wong-Tam. “Only if he’s willing to listen.”
Her overall thought is that Ford needs to be more aware of the students.
“He has children and some day they’re going to require these things [as well].”