In Solidarity With Ryerson Students
On November 17, at 4:00 pm, Ryerson students held a rally and started an occupation in front of Ryerson’s Administrative building. Guelph students of the Pay More Get Less Campaign stand in solidarity with the Ryerson Student Union’s occupation to demand a freeze in tuition fees and end to budget cuts.
Students are demanding a freeze in tuition, for international student tuition to be brought down to domestic levels, and no cuts to departments’ budgets. To date, over 4,000 students have signed onto a petition supporting these demands and the university has yet to make any firm commitments to work towards them. Similarly, at the University of Guelph, students are facing another set of tuition fee increases this year, as well as the completion of 25.4 million dollars in budget cuts over the next 2 years. Students at Guelph are also demanding the University of Guelph Board of Governors freeze tuition fees and stop budget cuts.
Government underfunding and creeping privatization of education in Ontario has resulted in students paying the highest tuition fees in the country, and upper level administrations focusing on programs that generate more revenue while neglecting program diversity. Programs that are “unprofitable” have suffered at the University of Guelph. Women’s studies was shamefully cut in 2009, and courses in German Studies, Environmental Sciences, Math, and more, have been cut in 2014.
The Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities has started the “differentiation” process of Ontario Universities, “encouraging” universities in Ontario to ‘specialize’ in certain programs, which will result in less program diversity and less choice for students wishing to get a post-secondary degree. The “differentiation” process is leading to a danger of the creation of a two-tiered university education system in Ontario, where students who can afford massive tuition fees go to private schools, and students who cannot go to underfunded, public universities.
Students and workers at universities across Ontario reject the idea that Post-Secondary education is a private product purchased by an individual. Instead, PSE should be a public good, and an investment for all of society to improve and prosper. We are calling for the freeze, reduction, and elimination in tuition fees, because no one should be locked out of Post-Secondary Education because they cannot afford it. We are also calling for education with a comprehensive curriculum and no budget cuts, because “less profitable” programs are valuable.
Guelph students organizing the Pay More Get Less Campaign commend the creative action by Ryerson Students and recognize that Ryerson students’ demands align with Guelph student demands. Coming on the heels of impressive student mobilizations in BC, Saskatchewan and Quebec, this action shows that students will not accept continuing attacks on the quality and accessibility of education. Mobilizing like this is the only way to make our voice heard and stop these attacks.