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Student unions—minus RSU— pen letter condemning Ont. government policies

By Raneem Alozzi

The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) did not sign an open letter from several Canadian students’ unions condemning the provincial government’s recent financial policies.

The letter, addressed to Doug Ford and the minister of training, colleges and universities Merrilee Fullerton, was signed by 75 university and college student unions. It outlined their criticism of the government’s financial aid cutbacks and giving students the option to opt out of ancillary fees.

The letter, first reported by The Charlatan, was even signed by the Alma Mater Society of the University of British Columbia. It requested the government reverse the student choice initiative until further consultation is done.

“The government’s recent changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) are disappointing, to say the least for students and families,” read the statement.

The statement also outlines the unions’ strong opposition to the government’s decision to give students more choice surrounding their ancillary fees and compared the “opt-out” decision to allowing citizens to opt out of paying taxes.

“It assumes the students don’t have the choice in how their student fees are spent. Through consultation with student governments, you will learn that each of us conducts regular referendums related to student fees,” the statement read.

The letter said the policy could set a national precedent impacting student experience and culture across the country.

It also argued that by making post-secondary education less accessible to middle and lower-income families, the government would contradict its campaign slogan to make Ontario “open for business.”

The RSU’s vice-president education, Salman Faruqi, did not respond to a request for comment. He has since resigned from his position following allegations of the union mismanaging its finances.

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