By Jackie Hong
Members of the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) interrupted a speech by Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Reza Moridi at the Digital Media Zone (DMZ) earlier today.[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMCivt-CV0k&list=UUsC_SCgA56zYWgYwpcd6cyA[/youtube]
Moridi was at the DMZ to help announce that the Ontario government is investing $1.2 million into Magnet, a job-hunter and employer networking service founded by two Ryerson graduates that aims to help reduce youth unemployment. Moments after Moridi began to speak, four RSU members, including Vice-President Education Jesse Root, walked to the front of the room. Two members held up a banner that read, “Ontario: Connection students to debt,” a reference to the Twitter hashtag used to promote the announcement, “#jobschaseyou.”
— Vajdaan Tanveer (@VajdaanT) September 24, 2014
“Students in Ontario pay the highest tuition fees in the entire country,” Root said, cutting Moridi off. Audible groans could be heard from the audience.
— Noah Parker! (@noahmcparker) September 24, 2014
“We’re trying to understand that government needs to really connect students with jobs, which is important, but first they’re connecting students with debt. That’s not acceptable and the Liberal framework that’s currently in place, three to five per cent increases will happen for tuition fees,” Root continued, as someone in the audience yelled “Shame.”
Throughout Root’s speech, Ryerson President Sheldon Levy repeatedly said, “Thank you,” in an attempt to stop the group as Moridi stood quietly in place.
— Rabbia Ashraf (@DubsAsh) September 24, 2014
The RSU group left after Root finished his speech. The same audience member who yelled, “Shame,” earlier clapped.
“Yes, I was saying, this Magnet always attracts,” Moridi said immediately as soon as the four began to leave, continuing the rest of his speech without interruption.
Levy said afterwards that he didn’t know the RSU was at the event, which was being live-streamed on the Internet.
“I thought they could have found a better occasion, but at the same time, the country is made on the ability for people to protest and have a voice. And our country is stronger because we allow that to happen, so it was okay,” Levy said. “I wish it didn’t happen, but it’s okay.”
The announcement that Magnet will receive the $1.2 million investment came the day after the Ontario ministry of research and innovation announced that GTA universities and colleges will receive more than $6.8 million as part of the provincial government’s youth jobs strategy, with Ryerson receiving $2 million.
Below is Root’s full speech:
“Students in Ontario pay the highest tuition fees in the entire country. We’re trying to understand that government needs to really connect students with jobs, which is important, but first they’re connecting students with debt. That’s not acceptable and the Liberal framework that’s currently in place, three to five per cent increases will happen for tuition fees. Also, international student pay unregulated fees. This makes education unacceptable, so even if people connected with jobs afterwards, they’re not even getting here in the first place. They can’t pay for their education, they can’t be connected with jobs because they can’t be here. The problem is, is that we’re connecting students to debt, not jobs, and that’s the focus of the current Ontario government, and it lets me have a strategy that’s focused on reducing tuition fees for students. It’s not going to matter what job they’re connected to. Thank you.”