By Carolyn Turgeon
Associate News Editor
The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) are stubbornly digging themselves deeper into the ground.
You got something wrong, admit it and move on.
In an article published in our Nov. 23 issue, we called the RSU out for telling students that only general arts and sciences would be eligible for the Ontario Liberal’s new tuition grant.
The RSU responded with cries of “shame” and accused us of falsifying facts.
Then, late Sunday, in a downright Orwellian change in rhetoric, the CFS sent out a press release “applauding” the Liberals for their “recent” decision to extend the grant to all first-entry students, including those in programs deemed “professional.”
Except, that was always the case.
“The intention has always been that students enrolled in first entry professional programs such as nursing or engineering would qualify for an Ontario Tuition Grant if they meet the other eligibility criteria as well, such as being four years or less out of high school and their family income being less that $160, 000 a year,” said Tanya Blazina, spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, College and Universities, in an email.
The fuss started when the Eyeopener participated in a campus media phone conference with Glen Murray, Toronto Centre MPP and recently appointed Minister of Training, College and Universities on Nov. 17.
Professional programs were not at all mentioned.
When we dug deeper into the issue not only did we find the expected annoyance at the restrictions and request for a real fee drop, we found out the RSU seemed to believe some of our undergrads would be excluded.
Turns out that every single mention of the Liberal platform regarding the grant was a reiteration of the same CFS-written press release that simply listed “students in professional programs” as one of the many ineligible groups.
Why did no one bother to ask the Liberals what that even meant?
RSU vice-president of education Melissa Palermo spoke on record saying that at Ryerson, only general arts and sciences students would be getting cash back because our school considers many of its programs “professional.”
We decided to clear the confusion with our article.
Caitlin Smith, RSU president, came into our office to personally try and set us straight, claiming that they had never said which programs could get the grant because the Liberals had not specified.
Too bad we have Palermo on record.
Sandy Hudson, a CFS chairperson, was quick to tweet about how she was looking forward to a correction to our article and is featured in the self-congratulatory press release.
Don’t hold your breath. We admit it when we’re wrong, but this time we aren’t.
The Liberal grant is not perfect. Among those currently excluded are grad students, part-time students and financially independent students. But this is how progress begins.
Keep lobbying, keep asking for an actual tuition reduction or freeze. Take advantage of the fact that they’re actually listening. Don’t be satisfied just because you may qualify for $1,600 on January 1, 2012.
Just don’t claim we haven’t checked our facts if you haven’t checked yours.